Gynecomastia is derived from the Greek words for “woman” and “breast” and thus describes a condition in which a boy or man has enlarged and over-developed breasts that resemble a woman’s. It is typically caused by a hormonal imbalance. While gynecomastia is generally harmless, it can be very embarrassing for the patient.
How Is Gynecomastia Treated?
Gynecomastia in teenage boys often goes away on its own. It is caused by the hormonal changes that accompany puberty, and the hormones eventually rebalance themselves as the patient reaches maturity.
There are a variety of conditions and medications, however, that can cause gynecomastia. Examples of conditions that can cause gynecomastia include liver disease, kidney failure, and thyroid problems. Alcohol and some controlled substances like heroin and amphetamines can also cause gynecomastia. There are also a number of medications that can cause this condition. Examples include antibiotics, AIDS medications, drugs used in chemotherapy, anti-anxiety treatments, and some ulcer medications.
The doctor’s first step, therefore, will be to identify possible causes and treat them. The patient may simply need a new prescription, or they may need treatment for a thyroid problem.
In a majority of cases, however, the patient will need surgery, and gynecomastia surgery is a type of breast reduction surgery. Sometimes, the excess breast tissue will turn out to be mostly or all fat. In such cases, the patient may undergo CoolSculpting® or liposuction.
CoolSculpting® is a non-surgical procedure that uses intense cold to destroy fat cells, which the body then eliminates. A typical session takes 30 to 60 minutes, and the patient won’t need anesthesia.
Liposuction is a surgical technique used to remove fat. There are many different techniques, but they all involve using a thin tube called a cannula to break up the fat and make it easier to remove. The doctor will inject a saline solution beforehand that will numb the area, decrease bleeding and bruising, and make the fat easier to remove.
In most cases, the patient will also have an excess of glandular tissue. The surgeon will make a small incision under the areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipple) and then remove the glandular tissue. They will perform liposuction to remove the fat. The surgeon will then reshape the remaining tissue to give it a natural appearance.