Gynecomastia is a hormonal imbalance that causes an abnormal increase of one or both breasts of a man. In this condition, the tissue of the breast gland of a male increases. The imbalance of two key hormones, estrogen and testosterone, is frequently the cause of gynecomastia. This condition usually occurs in boys going through puberty but is also seen commonly in newborns and aged people when they are going through hormonal changes.
Gynecomastia is surprisingly very common in Istanbul Turkey and other parts of the world. In fact, 70% of boys going through puberty undergo this condition. However, gynecomastia disappears without treatment in 75% of these cases within two years. But if it doesn’t go away on its own, then gynecomastia should be checked and treated by a doctor. Because gynecomastia isn’t harmful to one’s health, it doesn’t need to be treated. But it can cause psychological problems due to bullying and embarrassment faced by the patient. So, surgery is an option to get rid of the excess breast tissues formed due to gynecomastia.
Causes of Gynecomastia
The imbalance of estrogen and testosterone is a typical cause of gynecomastia. Men have testosterone and estrogen in their bodies. Although estrogen is a female hormone, there is a small amount of estrogen in the male’s body. If the level of testosterone decreases or the level of estrogen increases, then it may cause problems like gynecomastia. In some cases, gynecomastia is caused by the use of drugs, the use of medicines, or another disease.
In the first few days of a baby’s life, both male and female infants show breast development due to the estrogen from their mother’s body. This temporary gynecomastia goes away in a few weeks. Breast milk from the mother also contains estrogen which the infant may consume, which causes an increase in the level of estrogen in the infant’s body. As a result, breast enlargement or gynecomastia occurs.
Both boys and girls go through physical and hormonal changes during puberty. In boys, the level of testosterone increases. Sometimes a hormonal imbalance might result in gynecomastia. This condition usually lasts for 1-2 years and goes away on its own but if it doesn’t go away then it should be treated.
In the elderly
Women go through menopause as they age while men go through andropause. During andropause, levels of hormones like testosterone decrease in a man’s body. This can result in gynecomastia and other problems.
The causes explained above are usually natural, but there can be other causes due to which gynecomastia occurs. Gynecomastia can be caused by alcohol or illegal drugs such as marijuana or heroin. Gynecomastia can be a side effect of several medicines, such as antibiotics, antidepressants, ulcer medicines, medicines for the heart, cancer medicines, anti-anxiety medicines, and medicines for AIDS or ADHD. Gynecomastia can be caused by a variety of illnesses, including kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, and liver failure. Some skincare components have been linked to the development of gynecomastia.
Symptoms of Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia can occur in one or both breasts. Some symptoms of gynecomastia are swollen breasts, sore breasts, small and rubbery lumps, pain in the chest area, etc.
However, sometimes people misunderstand gynecomastia as “pseudo gynecomastia.” The enlargement of the breast due to an increase in fat in the chest area is called pseudo-gynecomastia. , pseudo-gynecomastia occurs in people with obesity. Losing weight or exercising can help in pseudo gynecomastia. So, pseudo-gynecomastia is different from gynecomastia. Similar symptoms are also seen in breast cancer, but there are rare chances of breast cancer in men. So, it’s important to get yourself checked by your doctor in case of any doubt.
Diagnosis of Gynecomastia
In the case of gynecomastia, doctors check the symptoms and then run some tests on their patients. Doctors perform these tests to check for the possibility of other conditions and to determine the cause of gynecomastia. Blood tests, mammograms, CT scans, MRI scans, and tissue biopsy are some of the tests that doctors use to check for gynecomastia.
Treatment of Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia normally fades away in 6 months to 2 years on its own. However, in severe cases when gynecomastia is causing issues like pain or social embarrassment, it can be treated by medication or surgery.
In old people, testosterone replacement may treat gynecomastia. Tamoxifen is an estrogen-blocking medication used to treat breast cancer. It can, however, help males who have enlarged breasts. Aromatase inhibitors can also treat gynecomastia.
If medicines do not help, then surgery is an option given by the doctors to the patient. Gynecomastia is treated with surgery, which is said to be the most successful technique. Excess breast tissue is removed through surgery. However, surgery before puberty is not advised due to the possibility of breast tissue regeneration.
Mammaplasty or liposuction are both surgery methods used to treat gynecomastia. When gynecomastia is the result of excess fat tissue, a liposuction technique is used. Liposuction is a procedure in which a thin hollow tube is placed through small incisions and vacuum suction is used to remove excess fat. Risks of this surgery include the formation of blood clots, anesthesia risks, pain, breast asymmetry, infection, etc.
FAQs about Gynecomastia
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.
It isn’t a serious problem, but it can cause pain in the chest area and can cause embarrassment. Generally, gynecomastia goes away on its own, but if it doesn’t, then it should be treated.
Many people try different chest exercises to get rid of gynecomastia. However, exercise is helpful in pseudo gynecomastia, where it helps to remove extra stored fat in the chest. But if a person has gynecomastia, then exercise can not remove increased glandular tissues.
It depends on the person. Many people see the immediate results of surgery. But complete results are usually observed after 4-6 months. Swelling is normal after surgery.
Because the incisions are small, so many people get back to work within a week. In fact, after a week, the doctor may also allow mild exercise.
Gynecomastia can not be prevented in newborns, teenagers, and elderly people due to natural hormonal changes. However, in cases where illegal drugs, alcohol, or steroids are the causes, then a person should avoid these things. If you are taking serious medications that can cause gynecomastia, then talk to your healthcare provider about other available options.