KANSAS CITY – More than 11 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the United States in 2013, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. One million – or 9.4 percent – of those patients were men. The top five plastic surgery procedures chosen by men included liposuction, eyelid surgery, nose surgery, ear surgery and male breast reduction – all operations offered by board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. John B. Moore at Premier Plastic Surgery of Kansas City.
Overdeveloped or enlarged breasts – or “gynecomastia” – are a fairly common condition among teens and men over the age of 50. In fact, “60 percent of all disorders of the male breast and 85 percent of male breast masses” can be attributed to excess glandular tissue, the hallmark of gynecomastia, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md.
A decrease in testosterone in relationship to the body’s estrogen levels – in advanced age, puberty and infancy – can trigger gynecomastia. Conditions including pituitary insufficiency, hyperthyroidism, kidney failure, adrenal or testicular tumors, cirrhosis of the liver, and malnutrition are also associated with development of breast tissue in men. Herbal supplements, soy in the diet, and plant oils in beauty products also have been linked to gynecomastia, possibly because of “their weak estrogenic activity,” according to information posted by Mayo Clinic.
Being overweight can cause an accumulation of excess fat in the chest area, giving the appearance of feminine breasts. This is called “pseudogynecomastia” and usually can be addressed by lowering body fat, gaining muscle, or undergoing liposuction.
Up to 65 percent of young male teens experience the development of extra breast tissue; however, more than half of those boys will have a regression within 18-36 months after the onset of puberty, says Dr. Moore. Approximately 60 percent of men in their 70s present with extra breast tissue due to changing hormone levels, medicines, or health challenges, he notes.
Men with gynecomastia are often self-conscious about the feminine contour of their chests and try to mask the problem by wearing extra clothing and avoiding intimacy and other physical activities such as swimming. In these cases, it’s always a good idea to rule out contributing medical conditions. Some men learn to live with their bodies’ changes, while others are bothered enough to take the additional step of male breast reduction surgery, in which a plastic surgeon removes excessive glandular tissue, fat and skin.
“I want to assure men who have this condition that they are not alone,” says Dr. Moore. “In fact, one out of every four men between the ages of 50 and 80 has the same issue to some degree. So if you want to talk to an empathetic doctor about it, I would be happy to look at your case and let you know what we can do for you. Just call the office at (913) 782-0707 to set up a consultation with me or with one of my colleagues.”
Office hours at Premier Plastic Surgery of Kansas City are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.