A condition little talked about but widely apparent is gynecomastia, the overdevelopment of the male breast. A reaction to too much estrogen or too little testosterone, gynecomastia can occur in newborns, teenagers, and adult men.
In babies, preteen, teenage boys, and young adult men gynecomastia is a reaction to estrogen from the mother or changes in hormones caused by puberty. It usually resolves within 18 months and is not a cause for concern. In older adult males, however, gynecomastia is usually caused by the natural decline in testosterone production or being overweight provides more fat cells which convert testosterone to estrogen. Of course, screening for much less common conditions such as liver or lung cancer, thyroid or hormone problems, or drug use can cause gynecomastia as well as certain medicines:
- Medicines used to treat ulcers or epilepsy
- Digitalis and other heart medicines
- Chemotherapy drugs, especially alkylating agents
- Antiandrogen drugs (such as flutamide, cyproterone, and spironolactone)
- Antianxiety and antidepressant medicines
- Products containing tea tree oil or lavender oil
Luckily, gynecomastia is not harmful and easily treated. If caused by hormonal imbalances, it will usually go away on its own. If caused by a medicine or disease, discontinuation of the medicine or treatment of the disease will usually cure gynecomastia. If you find a one-sided breast lump, it is extremely important to consult a physician, particularly if you have any close relatives who have had breast cancer. A doctor can check the lump with a biopsy or surgery.
In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary. This surgery is similar to breast reduction. The average cost of gynecomastia surgery is $3,100, not including anesthesia or other related. After surgery, patients usually notice some discomfort and pain which can be alleviated with prescribed medication. Typically a week recovery period is recommended. The patient will wear a compression vest beneath clothes for two to three weeks to control swelling and help shrink the skin. Patients should refrain from physical activity for two weeks. They may notice some slight scarring, but results will be visible within the first two weeks after swelling goes down, with continued improvements for six months.
Gynecomastia can cause some men to feel insecure. If you notice an enlargement of your breasts, and diet, exercise, and discontinuation of medicines have failed to produce results, male breast reduction surgery can give you a flatter, firmer, and more masculine chest and profile.