Testosterone and estrogen are sex hormones present in both men and women. However, male bodies typically have far more testosterone than estrogen, and female bodies have more estrogen than testosterone.
When a man’s hormone levels change or become imbalanced, he may experience a relative rise in estrogen that causes his breast tissue to enlarge. This condition is called gynecomastia, and many men affected by excess breast tissue are seeking an effective way to restore a masculine appearance to their chests.
Dr. George Sanders is a Los Angeles, CA, plastic surgeon specializing in complex and sensitive procedures, including gynecomastia surgery.
Does gynecomastia ever resolve on its own, or does the condition always require surgery? The right gynecomastia treatment method depends on its cause and severity.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
The most common reason a man might develop gynecomastia is due to a hormonal imbalance. For example, many men develop enlarged breast tissue when estrogen levels are too high.
Gynecomastia is common in male infants, as their bodies may have elevated estrogen levels from their mothers. Enlarged breast tissue in babies typically resolves within three weeks of being born.
The condition is also known to flare up during puberty, as hormonal changes can cause an adolescent boy’s breast tissue to develop.
Hormonal changes in adult males are another common cause. Men produce less testosterone after age 40 and may develop gynecomastia as those levels continue to decrease.
However, natural hormonal changes are not the only cause of gynecomastia. The condition can also develop due to the following factors:
- Certain medications
- Excess body fat
- Steroid use
- Marijuana use
- Genetic predisposition
- Underlying medical issues
Because gynecomastia can be a symptom of another health concern, it is essential to visit a physician if symptoms develop.
Will Gynecomastia Go Away Without Treatment?
Gynecomastia in infants almost always resolves on its own within a few weeks. For teens, the condition often goes away after puberty. However, some young men will not see a reduction in breast tissue after puberty, and in these cases, gynecomastia is unlikely to resolve on its own.
If gynecomastia develops or persists after the teen years, it is unlikely to resolve without treatment.
What to Do if You Develop Gynecomastia
If your breast tissue becomes enlarged, the first step is to visit a physician.
A skilled physician can diagnose gynecomastia through a visual and physical exam and an evaluation of your health history. Your doctor may also conduct tests like mammograms to visualize the breast tissue and blood tests to analyze your hormone levels.
Your physician will try to identify the underlying cause of the condition. If possible, they will advise you on a non-surgical treatment that could eliminate your excess breast tissue.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Gynecomastia
The best treatment for gynecomastia targets the underlying cause of the condition. Patients who undergo surgery for gynecomastia without treating a hormonal imbalance may experience a regrowth in their breast tissue.
When an underlying health concern has caused gynecomastia, the following treatments might be effective:
- Testosterone therapy
- Medication adjustments
- Lifestyle changes
Since gynecomastia can develop due to certain medications and recreational drugs, it is essential to discuss your medications and habits with your physician.
Your physician may recommend reducing alcohol consumption, ceasing marijuana use, balancing your diet, exercising more, or reducing stress levels. Many men can reduce or eliminate excess breast tissue by implementing these lifestyle changes.
Surgical Treatments for Gynecomastia
If non-surgical treatments are ineffective in treating your gynecomastia, surgical reduction of enlarged breasts may be the best option to reshape your chest dramatically. Surgical techniques that can effectively reshape your chest include traditional liposuction, excision of breast tissue, or a combined approach.
Liposuction is a standard procedure for reducing excess fat in a targeted area. The recovery time from liposuction surgery is minimal, and most patients do not have noticeable scars. Liposuction for breast enlargement is best for patients with moderate amounts of excess breast fat with limited to no sagging or stretching of their skin.
Under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation, Dr. Sanders will create small incisions in the chest area to insert a small tube called a cannula into the fat deposit. The cannula first breaks up the fatty tissue before suctioning it out of the body.
Recovery from liposuction for gynecomastia typically requires two to three days of downtime.
When there is excess breast tissue, excision of that tissue is required to reshape your chest. Dr. Sanders will extract excess glandular tissue during an excision and remove sagging or stretched skin. While most patients opt for general anesthesia, some choose local anesthesia and a sedative for an excision procedure.
The technique may vary depending on the shape of the breasts. However, an excision typically begins with an incision around the areola, many times no larger than 1/8 inch in size. Dr. Sanders will then remove excess glandular tissue and may reshape and reposition the nipple for natural-looking results.
Most patients return to work after about a week of recovery time.
An excision procedure may require some liposuction to fully resculpt the chest, though the recovery time should remain the same.
Explore Your Gynecomastia Surgery Options
For adult males, gynecomastia rarely resolves on its own. However, several treatment options, including surgery, can effectively reduce or eliminate it.
Dr. Sanders is one of the most awarded and skilled surgeons in the Los Angeles area, drawing patients from all over southern California. Learn more about gynecomastia surgery with Dr. Sanders.