When most people think of breast reduction surgery, they assume that the procedure is only for women. While it is true that the vast majority of breast reduction procedures are performed on women, there are actually instances in which men seek out the services of Dr. Paul Pin due to enlarged male breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia. 

What can cause gynecomastia, and what can be done to resolve it? We take a closer look in this blog post.

What Is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia refers to an overdevelopment of male breasts. In mild cases, it may just manifest as excess fat deposits over the pectoral muscles. However, in severe cases, the mammary glands can become overdeveloped. This can happen in one or both breasts, and can also occur asymmetrically. 

Gynecomastia can affect infants, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Although it can happen at any stage in life, it is particularly common for younger adolescent boys, roughly between the ages of 10 and 12. This condition can affect anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of boys at this stage in their life. 

While the condition will usually resolve on its own, it can be particularly embarrassing for patients of all ages. 

What Causes Gynecomastia?

Hormonal Changes

The most common cause of gynecomastia among infants and adolescents is a hormone imbalance between estrogen and androgen. If too much estrogen is produced in comparison to androgen, this may cause overdevelopment of the breast tissue, as estrogen helps regulate breast development. In seniors, the most common cause is loss of testosterone, the male hormone, as a natural result of aging. 

Certain Medications

Any medications that affect hormone levels can result in overdevelopment of the male breasts, particularly if they are taken for long periods of time. Some examples of these types of medication include: Anabolic steroids, anti-androgens, certain antidepressants (particularly tricyclics), antibiotics, and drugs that are part of chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Medications for treating ulcers, AIDS, and some heart conditions can also be associated with gynecomastia. 

Genetics and/or Weight Gain

There is some speculation that gynecomastia may run in the family. It can also result when you are overweight. Because the breast mainly comprises fat tissue, it can often be one of the first places where weight gain is evident for both men and women. 

Certain Medical Conditions

There are certain medical conditions that can also affect the balance of hormones. These would include certain types of tumors (particularly those associated with testicular cancer), hypogonadism, hyperthyroidism, kidney or liver failure, cirrhosis, or malnutrition. Abuse of certain illegal drugs, including amphetamines, heroin, alcohol and methadone, may also play a role in development of gynecomastia. 

How Can Gynecomastia Be Treated?

Similar to breast reduction surgery for women, Dr. Pin can perform a male breast reduction. This can be done with liposuction to just remove excess fat or by removing excess breast skin and underlying mammary and fat tissue. 

Enlarged male breasts can be embarrassing, particularly for adolescent boys. Fortunately, most cases are just a matter of time, as the body sorts out hormone regulation on its own. If not, Dr. Pin may be able to help with a male breast reduction procedure.