Gynecomastia is the enlargement of the breast tissue in men due to an imbalance of hormones. It can affect males at all ages. It is a fairly common disorder that affects, in some degree, up to 70% of adolescent boys due to their hormonal changes at this age. Within two years 75% of cases resolve themselves without treatment. Gynecomastia can also affect adult males to varying degrees. Although it is often confused with obesity and weight gain, gynecomastia is a disorder of the endocrine system and has nothing to do with a person’s weight. This medical condition, despite being quite frequent, can be a source of great physiological and social stress since it can greatly alter a man’s physical appearance.
Four Different Types of Gynecomastia
The American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) has created a descriptive classification system that enables specialists to discuss the issues and treatment of gynecomastia in a more standardized fashion. Gynecomastia is classified into four groups according to the severity of the breast tissue enlargement. The four grades are as follows:
Is defined as small breast enlargement with localized button of tissue around the areola, or the surrounding nipple area. The small enlargement of this tissue has a different color than the breast tissue in that area. At this grade the condition is generally not very noticeable with clothing on. Surgery is not commonly performed at this grade as the condition can often be treated with dietary supplements, prescription medication and or exercise recommendations.
Is defined as moderate breast enlargement exceeding areola boundaries with edges that are indistinct from the chest. As well, the breast tissue expands over the pectoralis muscle area. This grade is often unnoticeable when wearing loose clothing. Altering ones diet to reduce estrogen high foods can help but it is not as efficient as targeted supplementation. If these natural solutions fail it is often recommended to try prescription medication instead of surgery.
Is defined as moderate breast enlargement exceeding areola boundaries with edges that are distinct from the chest with excess skin. Although the enlargement of the breast tissue is considered moderate, this grade is considered high and visible. While surgery is not recommended in adolescents, it is often used to treat this condition in older men when medication and less invasive options have failed.
Is defined as marked breast enlargement with excess skin and feminization of the breast. This grade is considered severe and highly visible, giving the person a feminine breast appearance. Surgery is often performed at this grade when other treatments have failed.