Gynaecomastia refers to the abnormal enlargement of the male breast, specifically the growth of gland tissue, and not increase in fat deposits due to obesity. This condition manifests itself in infancy, puberty and middle/old age. It is the top reason for men undergoing medical examination of their breast. It is commonly referred to as ‘man boobs’. This condition is only sometimes dealt with gynaecomastia surgery. It is most bothersome for adolescents, who may be stigmatized because of it, but 75 percent of adolescent gynaecomastia cases are usually resolved within 2 years of first occurrence through adequate gynaecomastia treatment.
The chief cause for ‘man boobs’ is a hormonal imbalance: when levels of estrogen (the female hormone) comparatively exceed those of androgens (the male hormone) in the male physiology, gynaecomastia results. This condition occurs naturally in some infants and adolescents and goes away without any treatment (physiologic gynaecomastia) – the reason being that the hormonal imbalance is temporary and resolves itself as the person grows up / matures. Estimates that indicate the prevalence of this condition vary largely because of variations in what is considered normal breast size and also in the age of those being evaluated: the lowest prevalence in pubertal boys is about 4 percent and the highest, 69 percent. Besides puberty, ‘man boobs’ may also be caused due to malnutrition, problems with male sex organs, other medical conditions that lead to hormonal imbalance and medications that alter the hormonal balance in males.
- Observation in conjunction with the adoption of proper diet, exercise and reassurance, rather than specific gynaecomastia treatment, is recommended for adolescent boys since the condition goes away on its own, in most cases, within six months. All medications that are identified as causes for hormonal imbalance are also seized during the observation period.
- In older men, ‘man boobs’ are usually treated by medications that supplement testosterone where the body isn’t producing enough on its own, as well those that act as selective estrogen receptor modulators. In rare cases, medication that limits the synthesis of estrogen in the testes is also used.
- In severe or persistent cases of this condition, gynaecomastia surgery is used. This treatment is only considered when drug therapy has not been able to show results and the condition has lasted for more than a year. After a year, there is a risk that the ‘man boobs’ may get scarred (fibrosis) which can make drug treatment highly, if not completely, ineffective. Besides this, the condition can become a source of psychological distress for the affected individual after some time. The surgery involved usually consists of subcutaneous mastectomy, liposuction or laser assisted mastectomy, and laser lipolysis that doesn’t include liposuction. When opting for surgery, check with your insurance company as it is quite likely that they won’t cover it since it falls under cosmetic treatment. The surgery itself typically costs much more in the US or UK than in the countries who practice medical tourism.
- Sometimes, gynaecomastia treatment is performed by dealing with the underlying medical condition that has caused it as a side effect.
Getting worried by ‘man boobs’ is natural, but remember, if you stay patient for a few months and follow the gynaecomastia treatment recommended by your physician, it will likely disappear – even if it doesn’t, gynaecomastia surgery will definitely let you be rid of the distress, once and for all.
This blog post is an educational resource only and does not replace a medical consultation with a doctor .
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