Ask Dr. Elliott: Why Do Some Men Develop Breasts, and What Can I Do About It?

Most of us have something about our appearance that makes us self-conscious, but one aesthetic issue that can be particularly embarrassing is when a man develops excess breast tissue, which can take on the appearance of female breasts. This is a condition called gynecomastia, and it’s more common than many realize. In fact, it’s among the most common reasons men seek plastic surgery in the US. But how and why does gynecomastia occur, and what can you do if it happens to you?

Ask Dr. Elliott Why Do Some Men Develop Breasts, and What Can I Do About ItMale breast development can have a number of different causes. In some cases, the extra tissue is primarily excess fat due to weight gain (this is known as pseudogynecomastia). But for other men, the growth is actually caused by breast tissue. In addition to weight gain or weight fluctuations, there are a wide number of potential causes for gynecomastia, including hormonal changes or imbalances, the use of certain medications or drugs (including anabolic steroids as well as medicines for various health conditions), and even heredity. Patients don’t necessarily need to know the cause of their gynecomastia in order for male breast reduction to be successful, but those whose breasts have stopped growing before treatment (and who take actions to avoid breast growth after treatment, like maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding certain drugs) will see the most lasting results.

For most men (unless their condition is caused by an underlying health problem), the only effective way to address persistent gynecomastia is with a cosmetic surgery called male breast reduction. The procedure varies from one patient to the next depending on their specific needs and condition, but it typically involves removing the excess breast tissue and fat (combining liposuction with excision techniques) to give the chest a more sculpted and masculine contour. Depending on the skin’s elasticity and the severity of the gynecomastia, some breast skin may be removed to restore a more athletic firmness, and the nipple may be repositioned for a more natural-looking result, but we prefer to avoid this if at all possible due to increased scarring. In fact, nearly all gynecomastia cases do not require these extra scars.

While gynecomastia can take several different forms and come from a variety of potential causes, one fact remains: as long as the breasts have stopped growing, male breast reduction has a high success rate and is likely to be the solution for a more desirable contour. To discuss whether you may be a candidate for gynecomastia surgery, schedule a consultation with me, Dr. Franklyn Elliott. Or, for more of the latest plastic surgery news and helpful information, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.