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The word gynecomastia comes from the Greek term gyne meaning woman and mastos meaning breast. It is the development of abnormally large mammary glands or breasts in men, which can lead to the secretion of milk. Gynecomastia affects between 40% and 60% percent of men, and can affect one or both breasts. This affliction has no definite root cause, but it is generally associated with an imbalance of sex hormones. It is believed that gynecomastia can be triggered by puberty, steroid abuse, obesity, chronic liver disease, tumors, and certain genetic disorders. It can also be brought on by the process of aging, or can stem from the use of certain medications. Gynecomastia is determined usually by a medical examination and X-rays, or in some cases, an ultrasound is prescribed. Blood tests are performed to confirm its presence and to determine if there are any underlying diseases causing it. The most common remedy for this affliction is to undergo gynecomastia surgery.
Who does it affect?
This condition is mostly found among adolescent boys and the elderly. The symptoms in adolescents are often caused by hormonal changes and general distress. If the case is not linked to obesity, the symptoms usually decrease or disappear within a few years. However, those who remain affected often suffer shame and embarrassment as the condition negatively affects their self-image.
For those cases that are linked to obesity, the effects of gynecomastia can be somewhat reduced by weight loss. Nonetheless, the most effective remedy for this condition is Gynecomastia surgery. It involves removing excess fat and glandular tissue from the breasts. In some cases, excess skin will be removed as well to produce a firmer chest area. The ideal candidates for this type of surgical procedure are healthy, emotionally grounded men who still retain elasticity to their skin, which will have to conform to the body’s new contours. This procedure is discouraged for obese and overweight men who have not tried to lose weight to improve their condition. The operation is also not recommended for those who indulge in excessive drinking or who smoke marijuana. Patients are advised to adopt a healthy life style before considering surgery as a valid option.
Gynecomastia surgery’s side effects can include infection, skin injury, bleeding, or excessive fluid accumulation or loss. However, when the surgery is performed by a qualified surgeon, complications are rare and usually minor. This type of surgery may result in prominent scarring, pigment changes in the breast area, and slightly mismatched breasts or nipples. In a case where the asymmetry is prominent, a second procedure can be performed to correct the problem. Following surgery, the patient can expect to experience breast numbness and tenderness; these sensations could last up to a year.
Preparation for Surgery
It is crucial to consult your regular physician when considering gynecomastia surgery. Your doctor will be able to tell you how to adequately prepare for the procedure by giving you guidelines on what you can eat/drink, as well as what medications and vitamins to take. Patients who smoke should plan to cease the habit one to two weeks prior to the procedure and during recovery. The chemicals in cigarettes decrease blood circulation and could impede proper healing.
Gynecomastia surgery is usually an out-patient procedure; however, for the more severe cases, an overnight stay is required. The operation is performed under local anaesthesia and sedation. The patient is awake, but insensitive to pain. Certain severe cases require general anaesthesia. The entire surgery lasts approximately an hour and a half. Following surgery, the patient will experience bruising and discomfort which can be relieved with medications prescribed by the surgeon. It is recommended that patients refrain from sexual activity and heavy lifting for about two weeks. It is also advisable to refrain from sports or any job that risks injury to the chest area for about four weeks. Most gynecomastia surgery patients are allowed to resume their normal activities within a month’s time.
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