Gynecomastia is the enlargement of breast tissue in boys and men. It can affect one or both breasts. Commonly occurring during infancy, puberty, and old age, it is fairly regular in occurrence. It often goes away on its own, failing which it may have to be treated with medication or surgery.
Gynecomastia occurs due to an imbalance in the estrogen and testosterone levels in a man’s body. It may sometimes also result from certain medicines, health conditions, and drug abuse.
Corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, antibiotics, opioids, herbal products like tea-tree oil and lavender, estrogen included in soy products, heartburn medication, and anti-anxiety drugs can also often cause swelling of breasts in men.
Hyperthyroidism, chronic kidney failure, liver cirrhosis, obesity, and low testosterone levels are all also potential culprits.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of gynecomastia include the following:
• Swelling of glandular breast tissue
• Sensitivity of the breasts
• Increase in diameter of the areolae
• Pain in the breasts
• Nipple discharge from either or both of the breasts
Apart from a physical examination, the condition can be diagnosed with the help of blood tests that check liver, kidney, and thyroid function. Measurement of hormones in the bloodstream can offer results as well.
When gynecomastia persists for over six months, it is time to consider medication or surgery to treat it. Medication is effective in the early stages before scarring has had a chance to occur.
• Testosterone replacement has been shown to have a positive impact upon those lacking in testosterone and suffering from gynecomastia, especially among older men.
• Clomiphene has been prescribed in certain cases.
• Severe or painful cases of gynecomastia are treated with Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) tamoxifen (Nolvadex) to bring about a decrease in the volume of the breasts.
• The synthetic derivative of testosterone, Danazol, decreases the production of estrogen by the testes. This medicine is less commonly used in gynecomastia treatment than the others are.
Male Reduction Mammoplasty
Male reduction mammoplasty, or male breast reduction, has been used in several cases where drug therapy has failed. Liposuction and excision are the two techniques that can be involved in this procedure.
Liposuction removes excess fatty tissue and is conducted by inserting a small tube through an incision. Excision cuts out excess glandular tissue and is conducted with a scalpel. Excess sagging skin can also be excised in this way.
Although there are no related long-term risks associated with gynecomastia, men who generally suffer from it are at a five-fold risk of developing breast cancer. This is due to the hormonal composition that results in the condition.
A few steps can be followed to decrease the likelihood of gynecomastia. These are:
• Avoiding alcohol intake
• Refraining from using illegal drugs such as steroids and amphetamines
• Reviewing your medication to check if it has a chance of causing the condition
Learn More During a Consultation
Would you like to learn more about avoiding or resolving gynecomastia? If so, your best option is contacting Dr. Charles Wallace for a consultation. Dr. Wallace, a skilled board-certified plastic surgeon, will be happy to tell you more about the condition and the solutions we offer.