The word gynecomastia comes from the Greek words for “woman” and “breast.” It describes a condition in which a boy or man develops large breasts that resemble a woman’s. Gynecomastia can affect one or both breasts.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is caused by an imbalance of the hormones testosterone and estrogen. The patient has too little testosterone and/or too much estrogen. That imbalance can have multiple causes, and they can vary depending on the patient’s age.
For example, newborn boys are sometimes born with the condition. They have been exposed to their mother’s estrogen and absorbed too much of it. Their breasts generally return to normal within two or three weeks after birth. Gynecomastia is also common in teenage boys. It is caused by the hormonal changes that accompany adolescence. The condition typically goes away on its own within six months to two years.
Gynecomastia can also affect men, especially if they are over 50 – and the causes aren’t always benign. Many medications and drugs can cause the condition, including the following:
• Ulcer medications
• Heart medicine
• Some antidepressants
• Chemotherapy drugs
Medical conditions that increase the chances of developing the condition include the following:
• Tumors affecting the pituitary gland, testicles or adrenal glands
• Liver disease
• Kidney failure
Hypogonadism is a condition in which the body produces too little testosterone. It can be caused by several different disorders, such as Klinefelter’s syndrome.
How is Gynecomastia Treated?
Since gynecomastia has many possible causes, the first step is determining which one is responsible. If a cause can’t be determined, or if the breasts don’t respond to other forms of more conservative treatment, our doctor may recommend surgery.
Several different techniques can be used in male breast reduction surgery. In some cases, the excessive breast size is caused by a lot of fat. Our surgeon will, thus, remove the breast fat during the procedure. In other cases, the patient may also have sagging skin and excess glandular tissue. In such cases, the excess tissue and skin can be surgically removed along with the fat.
While the results of male breast reduction are supposed to be permanent, weight gain or using medications like steroids can cause the gynecomastia to return. As such, maintaining a healthy lifestyle after the procedure is very important.
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