With the onset of spring, thoughts soon turn to shorts, bathing suits, and for men and boys, going "shirtless". But for some, baring their chest can be an embarrassment. Gynecomastia is an enlargement of the male breast (this can occur to only one side or both) which begins in adolescence and usually disappears in a few years. For a teenager/young man the condition is embarrassing and a big social stigma and the condition can
continue into adulthood.
There are a few medical causes for gynecomastia including reactions to certain medications, and rare tumors. Breast cancer is possible in men, but rare; a diagnostic mammogram can be considered if deemed appropriate. Most often, gynecomastia is a benign condition, with a variable amount of breast tissue (fat) that can be "lumpy" and occasionally painful.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from gynecomastia, a good place to start is with a primary care physician or internist who can evaluate the condition medically with clinical exam and appropriate lab tests and imaging studies as indicated.
Treatment for gynecomastia begins with a referral to a plastic surgeon and options discussed, which is usually surgical (surgical excision/liposuction as medication is not always effective treatment.) Surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis with recovery taking 3-4 weeks for vigorous activity and shorter for sedentary activities.
Most patients are very pleased with their post-op results. In my experience this is usually not a procedure covered by insurance, however we are happy to send a "predetermination" letter to the insurance carrier for evaluation of a covered procedure for that particular policy.