Society often refers to an enlarged male breast as a man boob, but the proper medical term for the condition is gynecomastia. Especially true in coastal regions where the weather is hot and the beaches are popular, gynecomastia can leave men feeling socially uncomfortable. Even when the shirts are on, many cases of gynecomastia can trouble men as it affects their chest contour – an important piece of the male physique, clothes or not. In Weston, Florida board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Charles Messa III surgically addresses gynecomastia, eliminating the embarrassment and restoring confidence. For many men, this is a life-changing procedure.
Male Plastic Surgery: Still a Taboo Subject?
Many afflicted men keep their concerns unspoken and their breasts well concealed below layers of clothing. Women who undergo plastic surgery are often willing to share all about their plastic surgery experience with their girlfriends or even strangers, but it is much less common to find a man who underwent plastic surgery spreading the word to other men. As a result, gynecomastia surgery remains largely a mystery to many men who suffer from enlarged breasts.
“Gynecomastia becomes a real problem, and men are more reluctant to talk about these cosmetic concerns,” emphasizes Dr. Messa. “They are not aware at times of what can be done to enhance the appearance of their chest.”
What Causes Gynecomastia?
Excessive weight gain can lead to fatty male breasts, but gynecomastia is more than just excess fat. According to Dr. Messa, puffiness or projection below the nipple is actually glandular breast tissue. Unlike fat which is very soft, glandular tissue is dense and firm to the touch. The underlying cause is hormone imbalance, which may occur on its own during puberty, or be triggered in part by steroids or other medications.
- Hormone Imbalance During Puberty
- Steroid Treatments
- Other Medications
“Gynecomastia is a condition where there is excess glandular tissue in men,” explains Dr. Messa. “It occurs for multiple reasons. It can be secondary to hormones, puberty changes, steroid treatment and certain medications.”
Most commonly, Messa sees the condition present in young men who have developed extra breast tissue in one or both of their breasts as they went through the normal hormonal changes associated with puberty. Left untreated, the condition often remains with men into adulthood, where the have to suddenly face harsher realities while having a man boob.
Treatment Options for Gynecomastia
Not all male breast tissue is the same, so the procedure is customized to each patient based on their unique breast. The surgical approach Dr. Messa uses to address gynecomastia varies based on the amount of glandular tissue present and the density or firmness of that tissue. Extremely dense and firm glandular tissue is removed through a small incision that is placed at the base of the nipple or areola. The size of the incision is typically somewhere between one and two centimeters. “If it’s a softer, more diffuse tissue,” continues Dr. Messa, “sometimes you can remove it with just liposuction.” Liposuction involves an even smaller incision. A metal tube called a cannula is inserted in the incision and the tissue, once broken up, is removed through the tube.
Often times there will be excess soft tissue around the breast as well as firm glandular tissue below the nipple. In those cases, Dr. Messa will combine both techniques to best improve and flatten the overall appearance of the chest. In some cases, men also have excess skin present along with glandular tissue and fat. Dr. Messa may discuss the option of removing the excess skin at the time of surgery in order to provide a more masculine chest contour.
The scar from removal of excess glandular tissue is typically a very fine line that sits at the base of the areola. Since the skin changes in color between the areola and the chest wall, the resulting scar is hidden well within the transition.
Typically, patients are back to normal activities, like drivin,g within a couple days after surgery. Most men return to their regular jobs after four or five days and resume exercise after two weeks. Swelling and bruising are usually visible for a few weeks after surgery, but Messa describes the discomfort as “minimal.”
“I have patients wear a compression vest post-operatively, which is easily hidden under dress clothes,” explains Messa. “That helps reduce the edema and swelling, and helps keep the skin nice and smooth against the chest wall.
Results that Last
Once addressed surgically, the results are permanent, unless the patient returns to the steroids or medications that were causing it in the first place. Men who undergo breast reduction surgery are typically very happy with the results. They feel more confident in clothing and and they feel better with their shirts off. Outdoor activities on the beach and in the pool are no longer off limits, and the new contours they have in clothing will drastically improve their feelings of masculinity.