What Are the Potential Causes of Gynecomastia?
A segment of the male population has enlarged breast tissue, also known as gynecomastia. Though this is actually a harmless condition, it is usually a cause of great embarrassment and self-consciousness. A primary symptom of gynecomastia is the presence of a rubbery, firm mass beneath the nipple region. Some men also report fluid discharge.
What causes a man to have enlarged breast tissue? The fact is that the reasons behind gynecomastia may not always be clear. Therefore, it is recommended to get an appointment with a physician to find out more about your condition. The doctor might ask you a few basic questions in order to diagnose the cause accurately. These typically include the following:
• At what age did you notice your breast size changing?
• Is there any pain and/or discharge?
• Is this a hereditary condition?
There are several potential causes of gynecomastia, including hormonal changes and various medications.
A drop in the levels of the testosterone hormone in the body can trigger gynecomastia. In other words, a change in the balance of the estrogen and testosterone levels in the body can cause this condition to develop.
How is gynecomastia related to the hormone levels in the body? Estrogen and testosterone are hormones responsible for developing and maintaining sex characteristics in men and women. While estrogen is associated with female traits, e.g. breast growth, testosterone is associated with male traits like body hair and muscle mass.
It is possible for certain drugs and medications to cause gynecomastia. These medications usually include anti-androgens (used for treating prostate cancer, prostate enlargement, and other conditions), anti-anxiety medications, anabolic steroids, AIDS medications, antibiotics, and heart medications.
If there is a health condition responsible for your gynecomastia, it will be helpful to treat that condition first. If there has been a change in your breast size due to the intake of a medication, you may notice an improvement after you switch to some other drug or stop the medication altogether. This should be done in consultation with your doctor. It will also be critical to avoid alcohol and any illicit drugs in order to see an improvement.
It is possible for gynecomastia to be a pathologic or physiologic condition. Physiologic gynecomastia is typically noticed in newborn babies, elderly males, and pubescent adolescents. Certain health conditions such as tumors, kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, and hypogonadism can also lead to hormonal changes and thus cause gynecomastia.
Correction of Gynecomastia
To address gynecomastia, we perform male breast reduction surgery. This procedure takes into account the exact nature of the patient’s gynecomastia and then treats it using one or more surgical methods.
For those patients with an excess of glandular breast tissue, excision of this tissue with a scalpel will be necessary. Patients experiencing an excess of fatty tissue in the chest are better served with the technique of liposuction to remove the tissue. Many patients have an excess of both types of tissue, which may necessitate the use of both procedures. Excess skin can also be trimmed away with a scalpel.
Your Next Step: The Consultation
Meet with Dr. David Shafer, an experienced double-board-certified plastic surgeon, during a consultation to discuss your gynecomastia and potential solutions. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.