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Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia is an aesthetic problem wherein the breasts over-develop or over-enlarge primarily due to genetic reasons, hormonal fluctuations, weight gain, or the use of specific drugs. The condition can affect men at any age. While gynecomastia does not pose health risks, the condition often causes emotional pain and lower self-esteem for the patient. Since large breasts are signs of femininity, men with overly developed breasts feel embarrassed and avoid physical and social activities. They even feel embarrassed during times of intimacy, so they avoid it altogether.

The good news is that there is a treatment available for gynecomastia. Male breast reduction or gynecomastia surgery is a popular procedure undergone by thousands of men each year to get rid of enlarged breasts. The intervention reduces the size of the breasts by surgically removing the excess fat and, if necessary, removing the glandular tissue and skin to make the chest flatter, manlier, and tighter.

What causes gynecomastia?

As stated above, gynecomastia is caused primarily by genetic factors. There are many men who have a genetic predisposition to develop enlarged breasts. According to one study, 50 percent of men who develop gynecomastia acquire it through genetics. The second cause of gynecomastia is hormonal changes. Hormonal changes in men occur continuously throughout their lifetime, and there are certain hormones that, if fluctuate, can cause the breasts to become large.

Another cause of gynecomastia is the use of certain drugs. There are many medical and non-medical drugs that have been linked to the development of enlarged breasts in males. For example, some types of steroids can trigger gynecomastia in men. Moreover, weight gain can also cause the breasts to enlarge. However, it takes considerable weight gain to cause gynecomastia.

Characteristics of gynecomastia

No matter what the cause of gynecomastia, the breasts enlarge as a result of the deposition of excess fat in the chest, with is often coupled with the enlargement of glandular tissue. This condition, which may also involve excess skin development in the chest, can affect one or both breasts.

There is also a probability that the condition may add more weight to the breasts, which can cause them to sag over time. This is particularly true in old patients because their skin tone is already weak. Just like female breast enlargement, the male breast enlargement can cause the areola to stretch. This can be fixed through gynecomastia surgery, also known as reduction mammoplasty.

Consultation for the treatment of gynecomastia

Whether the male breast reduction surgery is suitable for you will be decided during a consultation. If your breasts have enlarged and the condition is affecting your self-esteem, be sure to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon. During the consultation session, you must be ready to discuss your aesthetic goals and expectations, your health condition, any medicines you are taking (including vitamin and herbal supplements), use of tobacco and steroids, and any past surgeries.

The plastic surgeon will examine your breasts and assess your overall health to make sure there aren’t any serious health problems that can affect your health during or after the surgery. You must be ready to share your complete medical and health history with the surgeon. A good plastic surgeon will explain the risks of the surgery with you during the consultation. You must do a risk/benefit analysis of the surgery before making a decision. Patients are advised to undergo the operation only if the benefits are greater than the risks.

The plastic surgeon will also assess your skin quality, elasticity, and tone, apart from taking measurements of your chest size and breast shape, including the size of the areolas. After thoroughly examining your chest, assessing your health, and knowing your aesthetic goals, the plastic surgeon will tell you whether you are a good candidate for the intervention.

Patients are also advised to have their questions and concerns addressed during the consultation session. This will make the surgery clear to you and give you an idea about the surgeon’s experience, skills, trustworthiness, and credentials. Be sure to ask the surgeon to show you before and after photos of his past patients who had undergone gynecomastia surgery.

Candidacy for gynecomastia surgery

In order to be a good candidate for gynecomastia treatment, you should genuinely have large breasts that are affecting your quality of life and self-confidence. If you have already tried other remedies for the condition without any success, you may consider the male breast reduction surgery.

A good candidate for the surgery is a man who is in good health standing. Ideally, you should not be suffering from serious health complications that can be life-threatening during or after the surgery. This is the reason why patients are advised to share their full health and medication history with the plastic surgeon.

If you are a smoker, you should tell this to the plastic surgeon. Smokers are required to stop smoking at least two weeks before the surgery and remain a non-smoker throughout the recovery period. Also, if you use alcohol excessively, your surgeon must know it.

You must have realistic and reasonable goals for the gynecomastia surgery. You should have an optimistic outlook on life and clear, objective goals to achieve. Moreover, you should have a stable weight and good skin quality. The surgery is also effective for adolescents; however, they may need further procedures in the future if their breasts over-develop again.

How is gynecomastia surgery performed?

The gynecomastia surgery is performed under general anesthesia. During the consultation, be sure to discuss the anesthesia option with the plastic surgeon. A board-certified anesthesiologist must administer the anesthesia. After administering the anesthesia, the plastic surgeon will perform liposuction on the breasts. If the condition has affected you primarily due to the accumulation of excess fat in your chest, liposuction alone will be enough to treat the condition.

Liposuction involves the use of a hollow tube called a cannula that is inserted into the breasts through tiny incisions. The plastic surgeon will move the cannula backward and forward to free the fat from the surrounding tissue and remove it with the help of a suction pump. This happens under the traditional liposuction method.

Meanwhile, modern liposuction methods remove the need for the manual back and forth motion of the cannula. Instead, modern methods use technologies like laser and ultrasound to turn the fat into liquid form and easily remove it from the breasts. Which liposuction method is best for you will be decided by your plastic surgeon.

If your breasts have enlarged both due to fat collection and enlargement of the breast tissue and expansion of the skin, you will require surgical removal of the glandular tissue and skin as well. As such, the plastic surgeon will use special tools to remove the excess glands and skin from the breasts. Male breast enlargement is often coupled with enlargement of the areolas as well. If this is the case, the surgeon will reduce the size by excision of the areola skin. After performing liposuction and excision procedures on both breasts, the incisions will be sutured and closed.

Recovery after gynecomastia surgery

Male breast reduction is a major operation. You must go through a complete recovery process to achieve the desired outcomes. You will find dressings on your breasts after the procedure. They are meant to contain the post-operative swelling and minimize the discomfort for you, apart from providing support to your newly contoured breasts.

You may experience some pain and discomfort in your chest for the first 24-72 hours following the surgery. The doctor may prescribe pain relief medications to reduce the discomfort. A drain tube may be placed under the skin at the surgical site to drain away any fluids that might be discharged from your body.

The primary recovery period can range from 8-14 days. During this time, be sure to take enough rest and avoid physically strenuous activities. You can resume work after 7-10 days with the approval of your surgeon; however, if your work requires physical activities, you should take more days off work.

There are many risks associated with the surgery, and you must be sure to discuss them with the surgeon. Avoid strenuous activities and touching the incision during the recovery period because they may trigger infection and bleeding. Also, avoid sleeping on your front for the first two weeks following the surgery because undue pressure to the chest can result in excessive bleeding and poor wound healing.

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