Gynecomastia is a composite Greek word (gyne – woman, mastos – breast) and a medical term for “women-like breasts”. The condition affects one in two men and can cause psychological trauma. The reasons for male breast formation are varied, changes in hormone levels or side effects of medication, but in many cases, the source cannot be identified.
Frequently asked questions about gynecomastia:
What are the causes for male breast formation?
It often happens when the oestrogen level in the body rises and the testosterone level sinks. In infants, adolescents and the elderly, the causes a physiological in nature; 40% of adolescents and 35% of elderly men are affected. Gynecomastia at a young age usually disappears naturally after a few of years.
Hormonal disorder, some types of cancer, in particular lung cancer, and systemic diseases like AIDS can be accompanied by male breast formation. Also certain heart and cancer medication, hormone-containing pharmaceuticals and pain killer are known for such a side effect.
Overweight-related breast formation is called pseudo-gynecomastia. It is, however, another wide-spread problem.
How is gynecomastia treated?
At first, the cause is determined. If there is suspicion it might be cause by hormonal imbalances, an endocrinologist must be consulted. If that is the cause, there are special treatments. Gynecomastia in young adults usually recedes after a few year.
In other cases, surgical intervention is an option.
What surgical methods are available?
Very often, liposuction (link) is sufficient. If, in addition to fat tissue, an excess of glandular tissue is present, ultrasound liposuction (Vaser) may be applied. If that does not yield a satisfactory result, excess breast tisse is removed through an incision in the areola. Excess skin is removed so that the scar is in the areola where it is less conspicuous.
What to do and what not to do before treatment?
Three weeks before an invasive / surgical treatment patient must stop smoking and taking aspirin. In the last week, patients must stop taking any anticoagulant (“blood-thinning”) medicine.
The following substances are also prohibited:
- pain killers such as Apranax, Voltaren and Vermidon (alternative brand names are Minoset and Novalgin)
- multivitamin tablets containing ginseng, ginkgo biloba and coenzyme Q,
- green tea, herbal products containing linseed, sour cherry stalks, tomato seeds
- all diet products.
Does the procedure require anaesthesia ?
The surgery is carried out in a clinic under general anaesthesia.
How long does the operation take?
Surgery takes about 1-2 hours, depending on the extent of the intervention.
Is the procedure painful?
Liposuction may cause some pain; otherwise the procedure is painless.
What happens after the operation?
After 3 hours, patients can eat and get up. After 6 hours, they can be discharged. A dressing is placed on the incision. In the first 2 weeks, patients must wear a special corset because of the liposuction.
After 2 days, patients can take a bath. On the 3rd day, they have to return to the clinic for a check-up; afterwards they can return to their normal life. In the first three week, all physical exercises, except walking, must be avoided. After 3 weeks, physical exercises are permitted, except arm and chest movements. After 6 six weeks, you are free to exercise as you please.
What problems can occur after the operation?
Gynecomastia surgery is usually complication-free and the results are very satisfactory. Persistent swelling in the first few months may give rise to concern. However, they are generally only temporary. The most frequent long-term complaint concerns the extent of the surgery. In these cases a second intervention to remove extra tissue may become necessary. Liposuction may be associated with rippling or the formation of depressions in the skin. This is avoidable with careful planning.
Is the procedure permanent?
If the patient gains weight again, the breast may grow again in size. However, a return to the state before the operation is impossible.