A popular cosmetic surgery for men may also be a surprising one-male breast reduction. This procedure is typically performed to treat a condition known as gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue in men) or breasts enlarged as a result of fatty deposits from obesity.
Gynecomastia can affect men of any age. According to a report published by The Mayo Clinic, it occurs as a result of a hormonal imbalance in which testosterone levels are decreased relative estrogen levels. Several common causes of this imbalance include: natural hormone changes, certain health conditions, exposure to anabolic steroids or estrogen, side effects of some medications or street drugs, and certain cancer treatments. However, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in approximately 25 percent of boys and men the exact cause remains unknown.
Depending on the cause, gynecomastia often resolves on its own or will resolve after treating any underlying medical conditions or stopping the usage of drugs associated with gynecomastia. In other times, surgical treatment may be necessary.
Gynecomastia surgery can help men with this condition gain a new sense of body confidence by reducing the appearance of overdeveloped breast tissue or removing fat deposits that enlarge the breasts. “Male breast reduction is actually more common than one might think,” said Felmont Eaves III, MD, President of ASAPS. “Surgery can be very effective in men who have breast enlargement due to either an unusual amount of actual breast tissue or fatty deposits.”
Although generally not considered a serious medical problem, gynecomastia or other male breast enlargement causes many sufferers to experience significant embarrassment. Men with gynecomastia will sometimes change the way they dress, such as by wearing thick shirts, or avoid activities that require going shirtless, such as swimming, to keep their condition hidden and avoid teasing or social stigma.
Will, a young man who had gynecomastia corrected by a plastic surgeon after diet and exercise did not work, says, “No matter what I did, no matter how much I bench pressed, no matter how hard I worked out, there was still an unnatural amount of breast fat…it’s terrible for a guy to have that.”
For a firsthand look at a Will’s experience, please watch the following video from Project Beauty, ASAPS’ authoritative beauty site.
In most adolescents who are not obese, the condition will resolve itself spontaneously as the boy progresses through adolescence. Dr. Eaves says that most young men should wait until puberty is complete before undergoing surgery for gynecomastia.
Breast reduction is the fourth most popular cosmetic surgical procedure among males, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Nearly 17,000 male breast reduction procedures were performed in 2009, a 50 percent increase since 1997. The majority of these procedures (58 percent) were performed on men ages 19-34.