In sultry El Paso, you need to be able to take your shirt off when the heat is on. For some men, this creates instant anxiety. They don’t want anyone to see their enlarged breasts.

Enlarged male breasts are surrounded by some serious misconceptions. People usually assume “man boobs” are simply a result of weight gain, similar to the way a woman’s breasts can grow with extra weight. While this can be the cause behind male breast enlargement, it can also be due to a condition known as gynecomastia.

Dr. Reynolds performs male breast reduction surgery, usually on a simple outpatient basis, to reduce enlarged breasts and make patients feel good about going shirtless again.

What is gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a term that has Greek origins. Its literal meaning is “woman-like breasts.” The condition can affect one or both breasts, and it is not rare — it’s thought that up to one half of men have the condition. The problem is that most men never do anything about it, or even know they have a problem. Again, they just assume they have a few extra pounds, and their larger breasts are part of it.

Gynecomastia is even more common in teenage boys, affecting three out of four. For them, their enlarged breasts are due to the high levels of estrogen and testosterone coursing through their bodies with puberty. When their hormone levels stabilize, their gynecomastia, like their acne, will usually resolve.

What causes adult gynecomastia?

Unlike teenage gynecomastia, which has definite hormonal links, the causes behind enlarged breasts in adult males isn’t so clear cut. In adults, their breast enlargement usually occurs in middle age and above. As during puberty, this is a time of fluctuating hormones. Beyond hormones, certain medications are linked to enlarged breasts.

Here’s a list of causes and risk factors for a man developing gynecomastia:

  • Steroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Heartburn treatment drugs
  • Anti-anxiety drugs
  • AIDS treatement drugs
  • Elevated estrogen levels
  • Heavy drinking
  • Frequent marijuana usage
  • Weight gain

Who would be a good candidate for male breast reduction?

The question of whether surgery can fix a patient’s condition involves ruling some things out. If a man’s enlarged breasts are due to weight gain, the first step is to lose the weight and see if the condition persists. Heavy drinkers and marijuana users also aren’t candidates for surgery, as their breast enlargement could be tied to their lifestyle choices. The same is true for steroid use.

Dr. Reynolds can diagnose when true gynecomastia is to blame. He will feel for a firm, rubbery mass underneath the nipple area. The size of this mass is usually less than two inches in diameter. It will often be sensitive to applied pressure. Before opting for surgery, Dr. Reynolds will likely have your doctor try medication that can reduce the amount of estrogen your body is producing. It is important that the patient still have good elasticity in his chest skin, so that it can tighten down over his slimmer contour after surgery.

What are the benefits of male breast reduction surgery?

Having enlarged breasts can be tough on a man’s self-confidence. He may unconsciously avoid situations where it could be necessary to take of his shirt, such as turning down a trip to Baja. This surgery with Dr. Reynolds can remove the stigma and allow a man to take off his shirt at the pool without a second thought.

Plus, this is a simple, straightforward procedure that doesn’t require much recovery.

How is male breast reduction surgery performed?

Dr. Reynolds performs these reduction procedures on an outpatient basis with the patient under local or general anesthesia depending on the case. In some cases, the enlargement may be more due to excess fatty tissue, and liposuction may be sufficient. To do this, Dr. Reynolds makes small incisions and uses a cannula to suction away the fatty tissue.

True gynecomastia is more often directly tied to excess glandular tissue. Dr. Reynolds can remove this through small incisions made either around the areola or in the armpit. Armpit incisions make scarring virtually invisible. Through these small incisions, he removes excess glandular tissue, fat, and possibly some skin.

What is recovery like after male breast reduction surgery?

Recovery from male breast reduction surgery is not difficult. The incisions are relatively small. There will be some swelling and discomfort, but this is short lived. Patients will wear a compression garment to help the chest adhere to its new contour and to minimize swelling. There is often some loss of sensation in the treated areas after gynecomastia surgery, but this is almost always only temporary.

How long before I can begin exercising again?

Normal activities can be resumed in about one week, and this includes exercise. However, any exercise that specifically targets or involves the chest will need to wait for a month or so. Dr. Reynolds will discuss these timeframes with you.

Are there risks with gynecomastia surgery?

This is surgery, so it has the inherent risks of infection, excessive bleeding, poor wound healing, and the like. But these are quite rare with a plastic surgeon with Dr. Reynolds’s experience. The main risk of this surgery is loss of sensation in the nipple area, but this is usually only temporary.

Is male breast reduction surgery covered by insurance?

If your condition is due to true gynecomastia, insurance may cover it. This can vary with different carriers, however. We work with both your doctor and your insurance company to verify the presence of excess glandular tissue and the need for surgery.

Will my gynecomastia return after surgery?

In most cases of reduction surgery, where Dr. Reynolds removes a majority of the breast gland, this also removes the chances of the condition returning.

However, if the gynecomastia was due to the use of steroids, marijuana, or other medications, it is possible for a patient’s breasts to become enlarged again if usage is continued. Also, a sizeable increase in weight can allow fat to accumulate in the breasts, although this isn’t true gynecomastia.

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