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How To Get Rid of Enlarged Male Breasts

For some men, it’s unavoidable: Prominent breasts. If you’re suffering from the condition, known as gynecomastia, you might feel uncomfortable and embarrassed.

Let’s talk about what it is and how it can be treated.

Gynecomastia can occur at three different points in life.

It happens during birth for more than half of male babies, who are born with breast buds. It’s related to the mother’s estrogen levels and usually goes away in a few weeks.

Then during puberty, more than half of teenage boys develop extra breast tissue because of the wild hormonal swings wreaking havoc with estrogen and testosterone levels. Once those hormone levels get back to normal (a process that can take a couple of years), the condition usually goes away.

And finally, after men pass the age of 50, the risk of enlarged breasts returns. That’s because the body’s testosterone production slows, while estrogen production increases along with body fat.

The condition can also be a side effect of other disorders or factors that disrupt the normal production of estrogen or testosterone. Those include:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Tumors of the pituitary or adrenal glands
  • Congenital birth disorders
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Obesity
  • Certain medications, including antidepressants, chemotherapy and prostate cancer drugs
  • Illegal drugs, including anabolic steroids and heroin

Treating Gynecomastia

Medications, such as estrogen blockers or testosterone boosters, haven’t been proven to help with gynecomastia. Typically, the first step is to simply observe. That’s particularly true with teenagers, who should wait until 21 or so before considering treatment. During those early adult years, there’s always an opportunity for the situation to resolve itself.

If it doesn’t go away on its own, the only treatment option available is cosmetic breast reduction surgery. The type of surgery will depend on the amount of tissue, and possibly skin, that needs to be removed. The severity of the condition can be divided into three stages. The first is characterized by a modest amount of extra breast tissue. Stage two is a moderate amount of breast tissue, possibly with extra skin. Stage three is comparable to a female breast in appearance.

In most cases, breast reduction can be accomplished through liposuction, the least invasive option. With this procedure, your surgeon inserts a suction device into the breast area to remove the extra tissue. For stage three (and some stage two) cases, liposuction alone will not be enough. Your surgeon will also need to remove some of the extra skin.

The treatment is typically permanent, though later weight gain could cause more fat to be deposited in the breast area.

Recovery from Breast Reduction Surgery

Full recovery from breast reduction surgery will take four to six weeks. If you are athletic, you might be eager to get back to exercising or playing sports. It’s important, however, to follow your recovery plan to avoid post-surgery complications, including fluid buildup.

The results of the surgery will be clear shortly after the procedure. You’ll have a flat chest with no more overgrown male breasts. The typical recovery timeline:

  • Days two to three:  Your swelling and bruising will reach its peak by day three, and you may need to take painkillers during this period. You’ll be able to do general activities that don’t require you to move your arms a lot or lift heavy objects. And you will be wearing a compression vest that will support your body and limit swelling.
  • Days four to seven: You can return to work if your job doesn’t require a lot of lifting or arm movement. You should be able to drive with minimal discomfort. But you should avoid jogging and other sports.
  • Week two: The pain should fade by the second week. You can resume jogging, but still should avoid more aggressive exercises, including swimming or weightlifting. You should continue wearing your compression vest, even while sleeping.
  • Weeks three to four: This is the range in which you can resume normal activities, with little or no restrictions. Consult with your doctor before returning to intense sporting activities. You may need to gradually increase your workout levels. You should also continue wearing your compression vest throughout the first month after surgery.

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