For men, having noticeable breasts can be embarrassing. But this is something that many men experience, and it’s known as gynecomastia. The right approach to treatment involves understanding the symptoms and causes of your male breasts. At eSSe Plastic Surgery in Fort Lauderdale, FL, our doctors have a deep understanding of this condition, and we’re ready to help you find the right treatment.
Men’s breasts don’t develop the same way as those in women, and experiencing this condition can affect your self-esteem. We are here to help you explore your treatment options through effective diagnostic services and surgical treatments.
As noted before, gynecomastia is a condition that causes breast tissue swelling in boys and men. It can affect one or both breasts, and it happens when there’s a hormone imbalance in your body. Naturally, all boys have a small amount of breast tissue, so when there’s a hormonal imbalance, this tissue swells.
Boys have a hormone known as testosterone that largely controls sexual growth during puberty. But they also have some estrogen, which is the primary sex hormone in women. During puberty or when an older man’s body produces less testosterone, a hormonal imbalance occurs. When this happens, the breast tissues swell.
What Are the Causes?
Several things can lead to hormone imbalance in men. It’s vital to understand what causes your male breast growth to determine the ideal treatment approach. Here are the potential causes of breast tissue swelling in men:
After birth, boys are usually still under the effects of the estrogen hormone of their mothers. This is the reason why almost half of the newborn males have enlarged breasts. In this case, however, the condition is natural and goes away after two to three weeks.
During puberty (usually when boys are 12 to 14 years of age), hormone levels change, leading to breast tissue swelling. For most boys, the issue often resolves after about six months to two years. Men aged 50 to 80 also tend to experience this issue due to low testosterone levels.
Certain medications can affect your hormone levels, resulting in male breast growth. In this case, discontinuing the use of such medications can be the first step towards treatment. Usually, you’ll need to find alternative treatments or drugs to replace those that are affecting your hormones. Such medications include:
- Diazepam for anxiety
- Metronidazole for bacterial infections
- Ketoconazole for fungal treatment
- Cimetidine for heartburn
- Calcium channel blockers
If you’re using such medications and you experience enlarged breasts, reach out to your doctor.
Enlarged breasts in men have also been associated with different conditions that affect men’s hormones. For example, diseases or injuries in the testicles usually affect testosterone levels. Thyroid problems also can lead to enlarged men’s breath since the hormones from the gland affect sexual development.
Some conditions, such as cancer, kidney failure, hypothyroidism, hypogonadism, and liver disease, have also been linked to men’s breast swelling. Addressing these conditions can help reduce the appearance of your enlarged breasts. Bear in mind that obesity also causes gynecomastia since it leads to increased estrogen levels in men.
Street Drugs and Alcohol
Illegal drugs, such as heroin, marijuana, methadone, and anabolic steroids, also increase your likelihood of experiencing enlarged breasts. Excessive use of alcohol is also a primary culprit. Quitting the use of such drugs is essential in managing the condition.
Signs & Symptoms
The first symptom of the condition is usually a lump of fatty tissue underneath the nipples. You might be worried that it’s breast cancer, which affects about 1 percent of men. Keep in mind that this condition is not necessarily a symptom of cancer, and you can always consult a doctor to rule it out.
Occasionally, boys with the condition experience tenderness in the breast area, and this can be managed using medications. Breasts also tend to look larger but uneven. You also need to note that the symptoms can be for another condition, such as Klinefelter syndrome, cancer, and organ failure. That’s why it’s always vital to consult professional doctors if you have such a condition.
How Common Is the Condition?
It’s not unusual for adolescent boys to experience breast swelling. This happens naturally due to hormone changes, but it goes away after one or two years. About half of boys aged between 12 and 16 will have some form of swelling in one or both breasts. In this case, medical intervention is only necessary when the issue doesn’t clear on its own.
In older men, the condition affects about 1 in every four men aged between 50 and 80, and it can lead to sore tissue in some cases. As men age, it’s natural for their testosterone levels to drop due to several reasons, such as testicular cancer, accidents, damaged cells in the testes, cancer treatments, and diseases that affect the brain.
We might need to conduct tests and ask you questions to understand your case. It’s vital to know your medical history and any conditions that run in your family. Physical assessments are also essential to evaluate your breast tissue, genitals, and abdomen.
Our doctors will review the supplements, medications, and herbal products you’re taking. We will also want to know how old you were when you first noticed the change in your breast size. If you experience other symptoms, such as pain and discharge, it essential to let us know.
You’ll need to have blood tests, urine tests, and mammograms to help us determine the cause of your condition, especially if your breasts are unusually large. Depending on your initial results, we may need to perform testicular ultrasounds, tissue biopsies, CT scans, and MRI scans to rule out different causes. Our doctors will help you understand the results of each test to ensure the right treatment for you.
These tests aim to ensure that your breast swelling is gynecomastia and not other medical conditions, such as breast cancer, abscess, and fatty breast tissue. Keep in mind that some boys and men have breast fat that might be mistaken for swelling.
Treatment and Management Options
If your enlarged breasts don’t resolve with time, it’s vital to consider treatment. Our doctors will suggest ideal solutions for you based on your age, overall health, and preferences. It’s vital to note that every case is unique, and we strive to get to the bottom of each case to ensure a successful treatment.
As noted earlier, boys experiencing swollen breasts during puberty should wait for the issue to resolve. Usually, boys find it hard to cope with the condition. It’s difficult for them in public environments such as swimming pools and locker rooms. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.
In this case, counseling is an essential step. Reminding them that the experience is natural and that it will go away on its own is important.
Quitting Drugs and Discontinuing Medications
For older men who have enlarged breasts due to drugs and medications, it’s advisable first to stop their use. If you’re using medications for a particular condition, you need to talk to your doctor to get an alternative medication. You might also need to visit an endocrinologist to get help with your hormone-related problems.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol, particularly if you drink beer. Most beers have a plant-derived chemical known as a phytoestrogen, which has an estrogenic effect on men’s bodies. The compound leads to an increase in the hormone estrogen, leading to enlarged breasts.
Treatment for Low Testosterone Levels
In addition to treating enlarged breasts in men, it’s also essential to get treatment for low levels of testosterone. The good thing is that there’s testosterone replacement therapy to help with that. This treatment is available in different forms, including patches, skin gels, and injections.
Receiving therapy can help you in different ways. You’ll notice an improvement in muscle mass, sleep, erections, sex drive, and energy. It will also improve your mood and outlook. The treatment can also resolve the breast issue if the main cause is low testosterone levels.
For some patients, surgical options are the most effective treatment for enlarged male breasts. The surgery is simply known as male breast reduction, and it works by removing the excess granular tissue and fat to deliver a flatter and firmer appearance. These procedures usually offer long-lasting or permanent results.
Following the surgery, patients usually feel confident for the first time in years. Our doctors will guide you to understand the two options and help you pick one that best suits your case.
If your case is due to excess fatty tissue, our doctors will recommend liposuction. We perform the procedure using local or general anesthesia. Our doctors will make small incisions on each side of your breasts. A cannula–a thin tube–will then be inserted into the incisions to loosen the excess fat and remove it using vacuum suction.
During the process, our doctors will sculpt a new chest contour that complements your natural body. After the surgery, you’ll wear a compression garment for a couple of weeks to speed up the recovery process. You’ll need to avoid intensive exercises for about three weeks, and we’ll provide personalized guidelines for recovery.
Also known as tissue excision, mastectomy is a procedure for removing the breast gland tissue. This procedure is ideal for more severe cases of gynecomastia, and it’s suitable if you have saggy skin around the breasts. It allows our doctors to remove a considerable amount of fat tissue. This is an outpatient procedure, and its performed under local or general anesthesia.
The location of the incisions depends on the specific condition and your surgical preference. The recovery process is similar to that of liposuction, and you’ll be ready to return to your routine within one week. You should also avoid vigorous physical activity for at least three weeks following the procedure. In most cases, you’ll notice an immediate improvement in the appearance of your breasts.
Consult Our Doctors Today!
Enlarged breasts in men can have an emotional impact on your life. If not addressed, you’re likely to suffer from low self-esteem. While most cases of the condition will resolve on their own, treatments are available if you want immediate results. This is particularly important for men who suffer from persistent cases of enlarged breasts.
At eSSe Plastic Surgery, we have extensive experience in treating gynecomastia to help our patients restore their chest appearance. Dr. Tracey Stokes and Dr. Laura Sudarsky are passionate about helping their patients, and they’ll work with you to determine the right treatment methods that offer long-lasting results. When you’re ready for consultations, be sure to call eSSe Plastic Surgery in Fort Lauderdale, FL at (954) 533-1671 to schedule an appointment.