Although both men and women have breast glands, men’s breasts are typically small and undetectable because they are naturally underdeveloped. However, in some instances, boys, teens, older men, and even newborns can experience breast gland enlargement, also known as Gynecomastia. This condition is characterized by the presence of swollen breast tissue, which leads to the development of enlarged male breasts. Although the development of Gynecomastia does not pose any serious health risks, it often leads to embarrassment and results in a loss of self-esteem.
Many people assume that the development of male breasts is a result of weight gain and believe that individuals who develop this condition can control it through diet and exercise; however they are mistaking Gynecomastia for Pseudogynecomastia or Lipomastia, which is characterized by the development of fat in the breasts, often due to weight gain or obesity. Unfortunately, since Gynecosmatsia is a result of an increased presence of breast tissue, it cannot be eliminated through healthy lifestyle choices.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
The development of Gynecomastia is typically attributed to a hormonal imbalance caused by an increase in the presence of estrogen, or female hormones, compared to the presence of androgens, or male hormones. The spike in estrogen causes the breast tissue to grow and the comparatively low presence of androgen, or testosterone, is not enough to prevent this growth. As a result, Gynecomastia often occurs during periods of change in hormone levels. For example, boys going through puberty or aging men who produce less testosterone are more likely to be effected. In many instances, Gynecomastia caused by hormonal changes during puberty resolves itself within a couple of years.
Although hormonal changes are believed to be the primary cause of Gynecomastia, conditions such as kidney or liver disease, hyperthyroidism, and Klinefelter’s sydrome and medications including anabolic steroids, antibiotics, Diazepam, and ulcer medications may also lead to its development.
How Is Gynecomastia Diagnosed?
In addition to the development of swollen breast glands, Gynecomastia may also cause breasts to be tender and painful and in some instances, and occasionally may lead to nipple discharge. It is important to seek medical attention if you notice such changes. Your physician will examine your breast tissue and ask questions to determine whether your family history, use of medications, or hormonal factors may be playing a role in the changes you are experiencing.
In the event that your condition is caused by hormonal changes, your doctor may advise you to give it time to resolve itself. However, if the condition is persistent and causes you discomfort or embarrassment, there are treatment options available.
How Is Gynecomastia Treated?
Before determining the most suitable treatment option, your doctor will first run a number of tests to rule out any underlying conditions. In some instances, a change in medication may be necessary, as several drugs contribute to the development of Gynecomastia.
Medications can also be prescribed to treat Gynecomastia, including Tamoxifen, which prevents the changes estrogen makes to the male body and Aromatase inhibitors or testosterone replacements, which can be used to treat and prevent the condition.
Finally, surgery can dramatically reduce the appearance of Gynecomastia. Depending on your individual needs, liposuction, excision or a combination of the two may be recommended. Liposuction is performed to remove the fatty tissue while excision works by removing additional glandular tissue.
If you suffer from Gynecomastia, we welcome you to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Edelstein or Dr. Jindal in order to determine the most appropriate treatment for your particular needs.
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