What is Gynecomastia? Who gets it? At what age should it be treated?
Gynecomastia is a medical condition characterized by a male developing breast tissue similar to a woman. It can be as small as a disc behind the nipple, or a full-fledged breast. Any man from puberty onward can be susceptible to developing gynecomastia. When/if the breast tissue is detected and is bothersome to the person, it should be discussed with a physician.
What causes it? What effects does it have on self-esteem, etc. of boys/men?
Gynecomastia can occur from a number of things—sometimes it is a normal response to pubertal hormone levels. More commonly it is a consequence of marijuana use, or in association with obesity. A physician will also need to check that it is not from a testicular tumor, or other biochemical abnormalities.
Gynecomastia is tremendously debilitating to self-esteem— especially in younger males. It can be perceived as quite embarrassing for them and may make them less likely to participate in social activities that might reveal that they have abnormal breast tissue. Sports, locker rooms, swimming, etc. (anywhere they would take off their shirts) generally cause extreme embarrassment.
How is it treated? Recovery? Expected outcome?
Once we know the gynecomastia is there, we can determine an appropriate treatment plan. From a minor procedure, coupled with liposuction, to a major procedure involving a “mastectomy for men,” the approach needed will depend on the amount of extra tissue present, and the best way for us to achieve a normal male contoured chest. This can create a minimal down-time recovery, or one that may take several weeks.
What questions should you ask during a consultation? What should you look for in a doctor?
I would recommend choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon who has experience in treating this condition. Ask the doctor to determine the cause of the gynecomastia. Make certain that your surgeon answers your questions and that you feel comfortable with his/her ability to provide the outcome that you desire.
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