For many years, there was very little awareness that there was a clinical term for what was commonly known as man boobs. Though enlarged male breasts are still referred to like that, doctors call this condition gynecomastia. More important than calling this condition by its correct term, men need to know and are often surprised to learn that there are different degrees of male breast enlargement and different ways to address them. Here, we discuss what those are and why liposuction may not be the answer.
Gynecomastia is Not Cut-and-Dry
Because gynecomastia is characterized by enlarged male breasts, many people believe that this problem relates only to excess fatty tissue. This is why so many men try to lose weight and tone their chest muscles as a way of eliminating enlarged breasts. The problem is that gynecomastia may include one or more of the following:
- Excess fatty tissue
- Excess breast tissue
- Excess skin
To treat gynecomastia successfully, a plastic surgeon will observe several characteristics of the breasts, including the nipples, the breast mound, and the skin. This examination can help determine the degree of gynecomastia that has developed and how to treat it.
The most common form of gynecomastia involves both fatty tissue and excess breast tissue. The two are different. Breast tissue consists of firm, dense, glandular tissue. Fatty tissue consists of soft, swollen fat cells.
- Classic gynecomastia may present as puffy nipples in relatively slender patients. This degree of enlargement indicates that excess breast tissue is localized beneath the nipple and areola. The way to treat this condition is to remove the breast gland and excess breast tissue.
- Moderate classic gynecomastia involves both excess fat and excess breast tissue that extends beyond the nipple and areola. This degree of enlargement can look more like female breasts. To resolve this condition, it is necessary to remove fatty tissue and dense breast tissue.
- Severe gynecomastia is often seen in men who have lost a substantial amount of weight. Here, we see excess fat, at least a moderate amount of breast tissue, and loose, saggy skin. This condition requires the removal of soft and dense tissue as well as the trimming of excess skin to restore masculine contour.
There is a circumstance in which gynecomastia may involve fatty tissue only. This is called pseudo gynecomastia, and it may improve significantly with diet, exercise, or liposuction alone. True gynecomastia rarely resolves completely unless the glandular breast tissue is removed.
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