Christopher Chung, M.D.
American Board of Plastic Surgery
Chief Medical Officer
Gynecomastia (“man boobs”) is a non-cancerous enlargement of the male breast, most often caused by an imbalance of the testosterone-estrogen ratio (decrease in testosterone, increase in estrogen, or a combination of both). Gynecomastia can affect one or both breasts, and at times, unevenly. Often, it is a normal finding which occurs generally at three age peaks: first week of life due to high levels of maternal estrogen, during puberty, and after the age of 50 due to declining levels of testosterone (1 in 4 men in this age category). Diagnosis is made with a detailed medical history and physical examination. At times, additional blood and/or imaging testing may be required, but typically is not needed to get rid of gynecomastia. While not posing as a serious health problem, it is a source of embarrassment for many boys and men. Fortunately, for those cases involving newborns and pubertal boys, most resolve naturally and therefore, no medical/surgical intervention is required. To get rid of gynecomastia in men, simple and straight-forward surgical options exist that are very successful in treating this socially embarrassing condition.
Treatment of gynecomastia is effective, safe, and straight forward. As the enlargement is often due to an increase in fatty tissue and actual breast tissue, the treatment involves a combination of liposuction and/or direct excision of the glandular tissue. An experienced surgeon can tailor the procedure to everyone’s anatomic need. But in general, liposuction is first used to remove the fatty tissue from the breast. In cases of pseudo-gynecomastia (diffuse fatty enlargement of the male breast without specific glandular proliferation), liposuction may be all that is needed. However, as liposuction cannot adequately remove the actual glandular tissue that may be present underneath the nipple region, treatment may also involve directly removing this tissue by making a small incision around the nipple.
Your surgeon will discuss the custom-tailored treatment option that best meets your anatomic requirement to get rid of gynecomastia once and for all. Most often, this procedure can be done in complete comfort with minimal sedation and local numbing fluid (thereby, minimizing the unnecessary and potentially harmful exposure to general anesthesia) as an outpatient procedure. Recovery (and pain) is minimal and most patients can return to work in a few days. Swelling is common post-procedure but will resolve within 2-4 weeks. Compression garments are advised to be worn for first several weeks but may be worn longer for comfort measures.
Surgical treatment is highly effective and satisfying.
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