Gynecomastia, commonly known enlarged male breast tissue, is a condition that affects one-third to one-half of men between the ages of 25 and 45 in the United States. Gynecomastia is a condition that is often embarrassing for many men. It is also often very frustrating as well because many of its sufferers are not sure why or how they have developed the condition, or how to get rid of it. There are several causes of gynecomastia, including hormonal changes, the use of some medications, and health conditions like hypogonadism, also known as low testosterone that trigger breast development. There is another potential cause of gynecomastia that is under the microscope – exposure to THC, the main chemical compound of marijuana.
According to studies performed by National Institute of Health, recent studies have shown a link between THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, and the development of enlarged male breast tissue. This is because THC lowers testosterone levels. When a man’s testosterone level is lower than his level of estrogen, the breast tissue begins to grow. Low testosterone can also lead to low sex drive, a reduction in sperm count and erectile dysfunction. Exposure to THC from consistent marijuana use reduces the size of the testicles and also may cause sperm abnormalities. Using marijuana frequently during the teenage years has also been shown to delay puberty, a situation that occurs in over 60 percent of teenage boys.
Formal studies on THC and gynecomastia have not been performed in humans, but research performed on animals has indeed shown a link between the compound and a decrease in testosterone, reduction in testicle size and sperm abnormalities in animals. Additionally, physicians in states where marijuana has been legalized have heard more complaints about gynecomastia in their male patients than in the years before the states legalized the drug.
In many cases, these complaints about gynecomastia have translated into an increased number of male breast reduction surgeries. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 27,456 breast reduction surgeries were performed on men. This number is a 5 percent increase over 2014, and since 2000, male breast reduction surgeries have increased by 35 percent.
One physician seeing more male patients seeking treatment for enlarged breast tissue is Dr. Bill Johnson, M.D. Johnson is a cosmetic physician performing male breast reduction and other cosmetic procedures at his Dallas, Texas, clinic. “There are two main types of gynecomastia. The first type occurs as a result of hormonal imbalance, the second type occurs as a result of extra adipose fat tissue,” Johnson explains. “Most patients have enlarged breast tissue that occurs from a mix of both types.”
Johnson uses SmartLipo in combination Vibro/Tickle Lipo, to remove unwanted breast tissue in his male patients. SmartLipo targets unwanted fat through the use of ultrasound, liquefying fat and melting it away. The Vibro/Tickle part of the combination makes the procedure more comfortable and helps to break down stubborn fat tissue. Using both types of liposuction in combination also facilitates skin tightening and improves the patient’s results.
The entire reduction procedure takes about one hour, and patients are awake the entire time, having been numbed through the use of tumescent fluid instead of general anesthesia. “By avoiding being put under general anesthesia, patients have an easier recovery, and can even return to work the next day,” says Johnson. Patients will have some bruising and swelling, says Johnson. He cautions that patients should take care to limit heavy lifting, including lifting weights until cleared by their physician.
Patients considering breast reduction for gynecomastia should be in good health and should avoid tobacco and nicotine use both before and after their procedure. Additionally, patients should also avoid using marijuana after their procedure, or they may experience a recurrence of gynecomastia.