Bloomfield Hills, MI – Are you a male who suffers from enlarged breast tissue? You’re not alone – one in four men over the age of 50 suffer from the condition known as gynecomastia. But what causes it?
“Gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, is triggered by a decrease in testosterone,” says Dr. Ali, a Michigan plastic surgeon. “Normal hormone changes can cause the condition, as well as medications, drug and alcohol use, and certain health conditions.”
Gynecomastia is the enlargement of glandular tissue within the male breast, and can happen during infancy and puberty in normally-developing boys. In these instances, hormonal fluctuations trigger it, and it will ease on its own, typically within six months to two years. The instances of gynecomastia then peaks again in men between the ages of 50 and 80, as testosterone levels naturally begin to decrease.
There are also several medications that can cause the condition. They include:
- Anti-androgens that are used to treat prostate conditions such as enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.
- Anabolic steroids and androgens
- AIDS medications, such as highly activeretroviral therapy and efavirenz.
- Anti-anxiety medications, such as valium
- Ulcer medications
- Heart medications and calcium channel blockers
Additionally, certain medical conditions can cause gynecomastia because they affect the body’s normal hormone balance. They include:
- Aging – normal aging brings about hormonal chances that can trigger gynecomastia, especially in overweight men.
- Tumors, especially involving the testes, adrenal or pituitary glands, can result in the production of hormones that will alter the body’s balance.
- Hyperthyroidism results in too much thyroxine being produced.
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure and cirrhosis
- Malnutrition and starvation can cause a significant drop in testosterone levels, while estrogen levels remain the same.
The use of controlled substances, such as alcohol, amphetamines, marijuana, heroin and methadone can also lead to enlarged male breasts.
The symptoms of gynecomastia are enlarged male breasts, caused by enlargement of the glandular tissue, not the fatty tissue. It may result in a rubbery or firm feel, and typically occurs on both sides. There may be some sensitivity or tenderness, but no pain should be present.
“Gynecomastia should not be mistaken for male breast cancer,” says Dr. Ali. “Male breast cancer accounts for about one percent of all breast cancer diagnoses, and will typically be found on only one side. The breast will feel hard or firm at the location of the cancerous tumor, and there can be dimpling of the skin, retraction of the nipple, enlargement of the lymph nodes and/or a discharge from the nipple.”
If you have concerns about whether your condition is gynecomastia or male breast cancer, consult a physician immediately.
Gynecomastia surgery, or male breast reduction, can reduce the size of the breast, while also flattening and enhancing the contours of the chest. For severe cases of gynecomastia that have also stretched the areola, a trained surgeon can also resize and reposition the areola, while reducing excess skin.
“Reduction mammoplasty offers excellent results in men who have severe gynecomastia or who have suffered from the condition for a long time,” says Dr. Ali. “In some cases, drug therapy may work to reduce the size of the male breast, but in many cases, surgery is the best option.”
For many men, gynecomastia is a source of embarrassment. It can be stressful, leading a man to attempt to hide it and making romance and everyday life more difficult. If you suffer from gynecomastia and are ready to regain your confidence, schedule a consultation with Dr. Ali today.
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