Gynaecomastia, also known as having a ‘male chest’ or ‘man boobs’ is a condition that affects mostly adolescent boys and elderly men, but is becoming increasingly common for men outside of those age brackets. A male chest can appear to be similar to female breasts and in some cases a man may even begin to secrete milk from the nipples. It can be caused by a number of factors, most common of which are hormonal imbalances or excessive weight. It can also be caused by the use of steroids or excessive alcohol consumption. Similar to women, it is possible for men to opt for a chest reduction as a method of diminishing the appearance of breasts.
Male breast surgery falls broadly into the same two camps as female surgery; reduction and enlargement. Reduction is far more common, with enlargement and enhancement only usually being undertaken by those who are undergoing male to female gender realignment and more usually being treated with hormone therapy. Reduction is a treatment given to males suffering from gynaecomastia, which is the development of abnormally large mammary glands in males resulting in naturally occurent breast enlargement.
Causes of Gynaecomastia
Gynaecomastia may be the result of both physiological and pathological causes. It is most often the result of an imbalance between the activity of androgens and oestrogens with the former decreasing in comparison to the latter. Common causes include testicular tumours, hermaphroditism, adrenal tumours, liver disease and malnourishment; all of which can cause increased levels of oestrogen to be produced. Gynaecomastia is quite a common complaint and is present in over 30% of men. The number of cases increases to up to 55% in men over the age of 70 years. Around 20% of all cases are caused by various drugs including some anabolic steroids and tricyclic antidepressants leading to hormonal imbalances. Obesity is also a major cause.
Reduction Methods & Costs
Surgical solutions to reduce male breasts will depend on the cause the condition; whether it is mainly fat deposits or the more fibrous breast gland tissue that makes the breasts large. In cases of fatty build up the surgeon will most likely treat the condition using liposuction. This process involves breaking down fat cells and using a hollow metal needle or tube called a cannula to suck them out through small incisions in the skin around the areola. Following the procedure the scars are virtually invisible to the naked eye. Where the condition is attributable to a glandular disorder proper breast tissue needs to be removed. A surgeon will make tiny incision around the edge of the areola or in the armpits in order to cut away and remove glandular tissue. If a large amount of fat is removed excess skin may also have to be removed. Again, after healing the scars will be almost invisible. The process is usually around 1 to 3 hours, dependent upon the extent of the treatment required and patients may be required to be off work for two to three weeks. An elastic garment or compress may also need to be worn for up to two weeks following the procedure. Total price, to include a potential overnight stay and pre surgery consultation, starts at around £2,500.
Other Methods of Reduction
Just as there are many available male breast reduction pills a number of contrary products are being released to reverse the process and attempt to redress the hormonal imbalance. These are designed to gradually burn off fat and or glandular tissue from the breasts, and some can even help tighten excess skin. This is a far cheaper but less effective method but may prove sufficient for mild cases.
It is very rare that a male chest reduction procedure will be offered on the NHS, but you should consult with your GP to find out the best route to take. When opting for surgery, it is always best to do your research on different practitioners. There are two procedures to remove the appearance of a male chest: liposuction or glandular excision. Liposuction deals with the fatty tissue that has built up around the chest, whilst excision is for glandular tissue that has formed. Some surgeons will only partially remove the gland, whilst others will remove the whole gland. Surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and can take around 2 hours. The recovery time after the surgery depends on the individual.
If the cause of the gynaecomastia is due to a hormone imbalance, your GP will be able to detect this and suggest a suitable path for treatment. Bear in mind that it may be a medication you are already taking that is causing the male chest, and altering that medication may be the key to losing it. As mentioned, alcohol can cause the growth of a male chest, usually along with a beer belly and possible ‘bingo wings’, so if you feel your total physical shape has altered you may need to consider how much you are drinking. If, however, you believe that the gynaecomastia has occurred due to general weight gain, the best way to reduce a male chest is to embark on a fitness programme. Just training the chest muscles will not reduce the swelling, and built-up pectorals are more likely to emphasise the breasts. It is best to consult your GP and a fitness trainer before starting a new regime, and most gyms are happy to give you a free fitness evaluation. Only by reducing your overall body fat can you achieve male chest reduction, and this should be done in a controlled environment with regular check-ups with your GP.
The growth of ‘man breasts’ is becoming an increasingly common phenomenon. The incidence of ‘man boobs’ or gynaecomastia can be a result of various different factors, and usually occurs in adolescent boys and elderly men due to hormone imbalances or getting older. However, it is arising more and more due to men being overweight and having a poor diet, which leads to an increase in body fat. gynaecomastia is the swelling of one or both breasts on a male, and these breasts can often become tender and the nipples distended. In some cases, men are also able to produce milk from their nipples. It is not only a difficult physical condition to deal with, but also has large psychological repercussions and can be embarrassing to discuss. However, if you feel you are suffering from gynaecomastia, you should see your GP as they will be familiar with the condition and will be able to plan a course of action with you.