Whether you’re over at a beach on the Cape or at a neighborhood pool party, we’ve all heard people snickering about so and so having “man boobs.” Having enlarged male breasts isn’t unusual at all. Unfortunately, most men are confused about what it really is all about, so they don’t do anything about it. Instead, they avoid situations where they would otherwise take their shirt off in public, turning down the beach invite or even not removing their shirt when mowing the lawn on a sweltering August day.
But enlarged male breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia, deserves more respect and education. This isn’t a handful of people, either — 40 to 60 percent of men are affected by gynecomastia — and it can really impact a man’s self-esteem.
At UMass Memorial Medical Group, our board-certified plastic surgeons perform male breast reduction surgery to reduce enlarged breasts, so let’s spend a couple of February’s blogs getting into the details of this condition.
What is gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia, a word of Greek origin meaning “woman-like breasts,” can affect one or both breasts. It’s surprising, but it’s believed that around half of all men suffer from gynecomastia, having enlarged breasts. Most of those men never do anything about it or even suspect it of being a “condition.”
What causes gynecomastia?
There isn’t a direct cause/effect with gynecomastia. The condition is very common in teenage boys going through puberty, affecting up to 70% of them. In these younger patients, the cause is hormonal. Both estrogen and testosterone surge during this time, dictating changes such as enlarged breasts. In teens, this condition passes with the end of puberty.
A variety of factors are thought to possibly be behind enlarged breasts in middle-age and older men. Hormones shift again during this time of life. Also, regularly taking certain medications is linked to gynecomastia: antibiotics, anti-anxiety drugs, steroids, heartburn treatment drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, and AIDS treatment drugs.
Heavy drinking and use of marijuana and heroin can trigger the condition, as well as use of certain herbal products such as tea tree oil and lavender oil. This isn’t true gynecomastia, however.
What are the benefits of gynecomastia surgery?
When a man develops larger than normal breast tissue, it can be a real drag on his self-confidence. Invitations to head to the coast or just poolside get turned down. Taking off a shirt in public becomes something to avoid.
This surgery with our board-certified plastic surgeons at UMass Memorial can change all that. These aren’t difficult procedures and recovery is pretty easy. Afterwards, your chest will be back in proportion, and you’ll be happy to take your shirt off when mowing the grass on a hot summer day. Gone will be the “man boobs” comments. These surgeries at UMass Memorial can really change your outlook.
In February’s second blog, we’ll get into male breast reduction surgery. Until then, if you’d like to schedule a consultation for potential breast reduction surgery, give us a call at (508) 334-5990 to schedule your appointment.