Hormonal changes in men during infancy, puberty, and after 50 can sometimes result in a condition known as gynecomastia, or swollen breasts. Some with this condition report tenderness in the chest, or lumps that make everyday life uncomfortable. Male breast enlargement is not always a result of weight, but can arise from overactive glandular tissue and hormonal imbalances.
Physically, there is little harm from gynecomastia. However, psychologically and emotionally it can be difficult. To reduce tissue in the chest, one solution is breast reduction surgery.
The Source of Gynecomastia
As mentioned, the true source of gynecomastia isn’t from one’s weight but a hormonal imbalance that affects one or both breasts. This is the result of an imbalance between estrogen and testosterone. While estrogen is thought of as a female hormone and testosterone a male one, in truth both males and females produce a mixture of both. In males, producing too much estrogen can result in breast growth.
Gynecomastia can happen at any point in a man’s life, but it occurs naturally at three main times. First during infancy, when a newborn carries a surplus of estrogen from his time in the womb. Second, during puberty, when changing hormone levels sometimes result in temporary breast growth. Third, after age 50 and beyond, as testosterone levels steadily drop in men.
Outside of natural occurrences, certain conditions can make men more susceptible to gynecomastia, such as liver and kidney issues, thyroid problems, injury, certain medications and recreational drugs.
Symptoms & Diagnosis of Gynecomastia
If you suspect you have gynecomastia, you may notice swelling in your breasts or feel tenderness in the area. When seeing a specialist, your provider will also check to ensure any lumps are from gynecomastia and are not suspicious for male breast cancer.
Breast surgery is one of the only permanent solutions for this condition. Surgery removes the prominent glandular tissue to optimize the chest contour. Complications in this surgery are very rare, and scarring is minimal. Men can expect some bruising after surgery and need to wear an elastic pressure garment for two weeks to help with swelling.
While gynecomastia can be uncomfortable, it can be treated and you can regain control of your body. To learn more about gynecomastia, schedule a consultation with an MSA plastic surgeon.