Common Questions about Gynecomastia

Common Gynecomastia Questions

Gynecomastia, or a swelling of the breast tissue in males, can be very difficult to cope with. Many men with excessively large, woman-like breasts feel self-conscious of their appearance and may withdraw from friends, work or the activities that they normally enjoy because of embarrassment or shame.

As trusted Bay Area gynecomastia surgeons, Dr. Samuel Pearl and Dr. Alexander Ereso have helped a number of men enjoy a flatter, firmer chest and enhanced confidence. Below, our doctors answer the most commonly asked questions about gynecomastia and how we can help men affected by it.

What causes gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia can be caused by a variety of factors, including hormonal irregularities, certain medical conditions, the use of marijuana, use of certain medications (e.g., anti-androgens, AIDS medications, anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications), excessive consumption of alcohol and the use of steroids. Doctors also believe there may be genetic factors to blame for some cases of gynecomastia.

Are there any symptoms of gynecomastia?

Besides a noticeable increase in breast size and fullness, some men with gynecomastia may experience breast tenderness or pain. Skin irritation, chafing and even infection can occur due to excess breast tissue and skin. Less commonly, there may be nipple discharge in one or both breasts.

Can gynecomastia be prevented?

Although there is no definite way to prevent gynecomastia, our gynecomastia surgeons recommend avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, avoiding steroids and illegal drugs and discussing any medications known to cause gynecomastia with a doctor.

How is gynecomastia treated?

There is no non-surgical way to treat gynecomastia or reduce oversized breasts with diet and exercise. Although fat responds to diet and exercise, glandular tissue does not. The only way to flatten an excessively large male chest is with male breast reduction surgery.

During the procedure, excess fat, glandular tissue and skin is removed. Oversized areolas can be reduced if necessary. The remaining skin is tightened over the chest to create a flatter and firmer contour.

Where are the surgical incisions created for male breast reduction?

The incisions for male breast reduction are created around the lower edge of the areola. This location makes the scar very inconspicuous.

Is liposuction used to treat gynecomastia?

Liposuction is usually incorporated into male breast reduction surgery if the patient has an excessive amount of fat. However, liposuction alone will not help someone with gynecomastia, as it cannot eliminate excess glandular tissue or skin.

Am I a good candidate for male breast reduction?

Suitable candidates for male breast reduction are physically and emotionally healthy and stable, with firm, elastic skin that can contract over the smaller breasts. Candidates are asked not to drink in excess, smoke marijuana or use steroid medications.

The best way to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for gynecomastia surgery is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Pearl or Dr. Ereso. Please call or email Pearl-Ereso Plastic Surgery Center today to make an appointment.

Drugs that May Cause Abnormal Breast Growth in Men

Abnormal breast growth in men, known as gynecomastia, occurs when female hormones (estrogen) are increased relative to male hormones (androgens). Many men aren’t aware that certain drugs can cause this condition. At Pearl-Ereso Plastic Surgery Center, we understand that men experiencing gynecomastia may feel self-conscious about their appearance and want to know how they can fix this issue. In this post, our expert plastic surgeons, Drs. Samuel Pearl and Alexander Ereso, discuss which classes of drugs can cause abnormal breast growth in men.

Anti-androgen Medications

Anti-androgens are used to treat a number of conditions, such as prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. Some common examples include flutamide, finasteride (Proscar, Propecia) and spironolactone (Aldactone). These drugs inhibit androgen synthesis or activity, which disrupts the balance between male and female hormones in the body. This can potentially result in male breast enlargement.

Alcohol and “Street” Drugs

Alcohol, particularly when used excessively, can cause gynecomastia. Several other illegal drugs have also been linked to male breast enlargement, including marijuana, heroin, and amphetamines. Men who drink excessive amounts of alcohol or use street drugs are not good candidates for male breast reduction surgery.

Other Drugs that Cause Gynecomastia

There are many other drugs that can cause abnormal breast growth in men, such as:

  • Anti-anxiety medications, such as diazepam (Valium)
  • Some antibiotics
  • highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) for HIV disease
  • Ulcer medications, such as cimetidine (Tagamet)

There are also other factors that contribute to gynecomastia. These include aging and diseases that affect the thyroid, liver, or kidneys. Abnormal male breast growth is quite common, with between 40 and 60 percent of men experiencing gynecomastia at some point in their lives. If you’re concerned about abnormal breast growth or are feeling self-conscious about your appearance, be sure to discuss it with your doctor.

Consult with an Experienced Surgeon

For men experiencing gynecomastia due to the use of certain drugs or other factors, breast reduction surgery may be a possible solution. Our skilled surgeons can discuss this procedure with you and determine if you are a good candidate for breast reduction surgery. Schedule a consultation at our Mountain View office by calling (650) 964-6600.

Does Drinking Beer Cause Man Boobs?

Lately, a troubling rumor has circulated the Internet claiming that drinking beer — especially “hoppy” styles like India Pale Ales — contributes to the development of excessive male breast tissue. Since Drs. Samuel Pearl and Alexander Ereso treat men with enlarged breasts at Pearl-Ereso Plastic Surgery Center, they thought they would address this rumor. Here, the doctors set the record straight on whether beer causes man boobs.

Where the Rumor Originated

Stephen Harrod Buhner, an herbalist and author, told the VICE News blog Munchies that a plant chemical in hops (found in beers) imitates the estrogen hormone. He claimed that drinking beer with lots of hops causes men to develop feminine attributes like large breasts and to suffer from sexual problems, including impotence. Fox News published an article piggybacking on Buhner’s claims, suggesting that men who drink strong India Pale Ales may notice their breasts overdeveloping.

Business Insider spoke with a University of Illinois professor, Richard van Breemen, who disputed Buhner’s claim, noting that there is a small amount of the estrogen-like compound, but it is so little that it is unlikely to disrupt a man’s hormones to the point of causing breast development.

With that information, feel free to continue to enjoy IPAs (responsibly, of course).

So, What Actually Causes Man Boobs?

Drs. Pearl and Ereso explored the causes of excessive male breast tissue (a condition called gynecomastia) in a blog post in December. It is not always possible to diagnose the exact cause of gynecomastia. However, doctors believe it is usually due to hormonal imbalances, medical conditions and the use of steroids. Before recommending male breast reduction surgery, our doctors recommend candidates visit their primary care physicians for a full physical work-up to rule out any underlying medical causes.

If a candidate is deemed physically (and psychologically) healthy enough for surgery, our doctors can explore treatment options in more detail. Male breast reduction surgery involves removing excess breast tissue and reshaping the chest so it looks flatter and firmer. Enlarged or droopy areolas can also be corrected during surgery.

Male breast reduction can be a life-changing experience. Most men experience an enormous boost in self-confidence and are comfortable going shirtless at the beach, pool or gym.

Contact Our Plastic Surgeons

To learn more about gynecomastia and male breast reduction surgery, please contact Pearl-Ereso Plastic Surgery Center today and request a consultation. You can reach us by calling (650) 964-6600 today.