What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is the medical term used to describe male breast enlargement. Though rarely talked about, gynecomastia is actually a fairly common condition. Up to 70% of boys in early to mid-puberty develop gynecomastia due to normal hormonal changes that occur at this time. Middle-aged and elderly men are another age group that commonly experience gynecomastia, with up to 65% of males in this population affected.
What causes Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is typically the result of hormonal imbalance. While androgen is commonly considered to be a male hormone and estrogen a female hormone, both sexes produce both types of hormones. A shift in the balance of these hormones, either by a decrease in androgen or an increase in estrogen, can cause gynecomastia to develop in men. The majority of pubertal gynecomastia will resolve on its own, usually within 6 months to 2 years. However, persistent gynecomastia that lasts beyond the age of 17 is unlikely to go away on its own and may require treatment. Gynecomastia can also develop as a result of the use of certain medications or herbal products. Certain diuretics and anabolic steroids are also known to stimulate breast growth in men.
How is Gynecomastia Treated?
While 40 – 60% of men experience gynecomastia at some point in their lifetime, it is not a subject most men like to talk about. Persistent gynecomastia can be a source of great embarrassment for many, causing them to limit their activities and avoid situations where they must remove their shirt. Fortunately, gynecomastia treatment in Houston is a simple procedure that removes the excessive glandular tissue in the breasts, restoring a smoother and more masculine chest contour.
Who is a Good Candidate for Gynecomastia Treatment?
Gynecomastia should not be confused with pseudogynecomastia, which is where breast enlargement occurs due to weight gain. Your healthcare provider can perform an exam to identify whether the tissue in your breasts is fatty or glandular. In some cases, a mammogram may be done to determine whether you have gynecomastia. Before considering surgical gynecomastia treatment, it is important to have a complete checkup first. Another condition such as impaired liver function, anabolic steroids, estrogen containing medication or the excessive use of alcohol or marijuana may be contributing to your gynecomastia. If this is the case, these conditions must be corrected prior to gyno surgery. The ideal candidate for gynecomastia treatment in Houston is someone who:
- • Is bothered by the size of their overdeveloped breasts
- • Has asked their health provider about alternative treatments for their condition
- • Is physically healthy and at a stable weight
- • Does not smoke or use drugs
- • Has stabilized breast development
- • Has realistic expectations
The decision to undergo male breast reduction surgery is personal and should not be done to meet the expectations of others. During your Houston gynecomastia treatment consultation, we will discuss your individual goals, review your medical history, assess your frame and determine if this is the right procedure for you.
Safety and Risks of Gynecomastia Treatment
When performed by an experienced plastic surgeon in Houston, gynecomastia treatment is a safe and reliable procedure and complications are very uncommon. As with any surgery though, there are always risks involved. These include excessive bleeding, infection, excessive fluid loss or accumulation and adverse reaction to anesthesia. The surgery may also result in visible scarring, mild hyperpigmentation of the breast skin or post-operative asymmetry between the breasts. Almost all patients have mild breast asymmetry preoperatively, therefore minor degrees of breast asymmetry after surgery are not uncommon. If the difference is significant, then a second procedure can be performed to remove additional tissue. Temporary side effects of gynecomastia treatment include numbness and change in skin sensation. This is common right after surgery and will usually subside within a few months.
The Gynecomastia Treatment Consultation
At your initial consultation, Dr. Clayton Moliver will review your medical history and perform an examination of your chest to determine if your gynecomastia might be related to another condition. If a medical condition is the suspected cause, you will be referred to the appropriate specialist. If he determines that surgery is the best approach, Dr. Moliver will begin developing a surgical plan that addresses your unique needs.
At your consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding procedure costs, recovery time and concerns about your recommended gynecomastia treatment plan. While policies vary, male breast reduction is usually considered a cosmetic procedure and is not typically covered by medical insurance. However, you should check with your provider to be certain. If you are covered, make sure to obtain pre-authorization for the procedure recommended by your plastic surgeon. Dr. Moliver will provide you with detailed instructions on how to prepare for your surgery. If you are a smoker, you will need to stop smoking a minimum of 2 weeks prior to your surgery. This is because smoking decreases circulation and can impede the healing process.
Male Breast Reduction Surgery – Procedural Steps
Plastic surgery to get rid of gynecomastia is medically referred to as reduction mammoplasty. The overall goal of this procedure is to reduce the size of the breasts, flattening and firming the chest contours. In extreme cases of gynecomastia, the weight of the excess tissue can cause the breasts to sag and stretch the dark skin surrounding the nipple (known as the areola). In these cases, the size and location of the nipple can be improved during surgery and any excess skin can also be removed.
Medications are administered for your comfort during your gynecomastia procedure. Frequently, local anesthesia and intravenous sedation are used for patients undergoing gynecomastia surgery, although general anesthesia may be desirable in some instances. To ensure your safety during the operation, various monitors are utilized to monitor your heart, blood pressure, pulse and the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood.
If breast enlargement is primarily due to excess fatty tissue, then liposuction alone may be sufficient to achieve the desired results. During your procedure, several small incisions will be made, either around the edge of the areola or in the underarm area. A thin, hollow tube known as a cannula is inserted through the incision. The cannula is moved back and forth in order to break up the fat which is then suctioned out of the body via an attached vacuum pump. There are a variety of liposuction techniques that can be used. The method most suitable for your particular case will be determined at your consultation.
If glandular tissue is the primary cause of your gynecomastia, then excision using a scalpel will be employed to cut out the excess glandular tissue. This technique can be performed alone or done in conjunction with liposuction. An incision is made in an inconspicuous location, usually on the edge of the areola or in the underarm region. Working through the incisions, the surgeon excises the excess glandular tissue, fat and skin from around the areola and from the bottom and sides of the breast. If liposuction is used, the cannula is typically inserted through the existing incisions.
After Gynecomastia Treatment
As with most surgical procedures, you will have some minor swelling and bruising after your operation. You will need to rest and take it easy for the first 2 – 3 days following your procedure. Although the majority of your swelling will dissipate after a few weeks, it may be 3 months or more before your final results are revealed. You will be provided a compressive garment or vest to wear for the first week or two after surgery, and then for a few weeks longer at night. This will help to reduce the amount of swelling you experience. Dr. Moliver takes great care to minimize surgery scarring and this procedure typically leaves inconspicuous scars. You should avoid exposing your surgical scars to direct sunlight for the first 6 months following surgery as sunlight can cause scars to darken. If sun exposure is unavoidable, be sure to use a strong sunblock.
Depending on your job, you should be able to return to work within the week. Those with sedentary jobs can often return to work a day or two after their procedure. If your job involves strenuous physical activity such as heavy lifting, you will need to wait a bit longer before returning. It is advised that patients wait at least 2 – 3 weeks before resuming light exercise focusing on the lower body. After about 4 weeks, patients can gradually begin implementing chest exercises back into their exercise regimen. In general, most patients are back to all of their normal activities around a month after gynecomastia surgery.
Gynecomastia Before & After Photos
Visit our photo gallery to view before and after photos of some of Dr. Moliver’s previous gynecomastia surgery patients. To see how a typical male breast reduction procedure is performed, head into the operating room with Dr. Moliver via our gynecomastia surgery video gallery.
To request a Houston gynecomastia treatment consultation with Dr. Moliver, please call (281) 282-9555 now or fill out the form above. If you are not in the Houston area, you can easily request an out of town consultation through Skype using the appointment request link on this page.