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The topic of male breast development can sometimes be an embarrassing one. It is sometimes comforting to know that this is a common problem. The medical term for this is called gynecomastia. The problem can be minor to very severe. When the problem is severe the breasts can be as large as a well-developed woman’s.  Gynecomastia is most often not medically harmful, but can be extremely embarrassing.

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There are many causes of gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is very common during puberty and adolescence. Most often it is a temporary problem and will go away as the young man develops. Gynecomastia in very old men is also not uncommon and is caused by increased estrogen levels as men age.

There are many other causes of gynecomastia. One of the most common today is Steroid use among body-builders. The excess steroid is converted into estrogen and estrogen-like compounds which cause breast development. Large weight gains can also cause gynecomastia. Other common causes of gynecomastia include alcohol, certain medications, and marijuana. Often discontinuing the use of these substances will lead to improvement or resolution of the gynecomastia.

Rarely, a male may get breast cancer and this can cause unilateral enlargement of the male breast.


When the gynecomastia is severe or embarrassing it can be surgically treated. There are many options for treatment. The most common is using liposuction to reduce the size of the male breast. This is usually tried first, even if it does not completely cure the problem, it will often lead to a large reduction in the size of the breast.   Sometimes a small incision is made in the male areola and the breast tissue is directly removed by cutting it out.  This is done if the breast tissue is very hard and will not respond to liposuction. Often both liposuction and direct excision are combined. If a very large amount of breast tissue exists it may be necessary to remove some skin.  This is done as a last option because it will leave scars on the chest wall of the male. The scars can be almost as noticeable as the breast tissue was.


Recovery after gynecomastia surgery depends on the type of procedure used, but usually it is relatively quick. If only liposuction was used, the post-operative pain is usually fairly mild and often it is possible to return to work after four or five days and full exercise after three or four weeks. If excision was used, it is usually possible to return to work after four or five days and back to full exercise except for chest exercises in four weeks. Chest exercises will need to wait at least six to eight weeks after surgery.


Gynecomastia surgery is usually generally quite safe and complications are usually uncommon and minor. All of the risks of having surgery exist with gynecomastia surgery. These include paint, bruising, swelling, numbness, asymmetry, need for more procedures, infection, and damage to surrounding structures. Also if liposuction is used, all of the risks listed for liposuction are possible.


Gynecomastia (male breast development), is a fairly common and an embarrassing problem. Fortunately, there are ways to correct this problem. Dr. Smith, a board-certified surgeon, has a great deal of experience in helping men with Gynecomastia and many satisfied patients. If you are considering surgical correction of Gynecomastia make an appointment to see Dr. Smith.