Like millions of other people, some of our staff is addicted to the hit ABC medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy. Working in a medical practice we can’t help but be curious about the medical authenticity behind the show from time to time. Over the years I’ve personally chatted with numerous doctors from ER physicians to OBGYNs (who can forget the famous two uteruses episode), neurologists and, of course, a plastic surgeon. So after last Thursday’s episode featuring a gynecomastia case my interest was once again peaked.
Gynecomastia and Puberty
In the case featured on the episode a 13-year-old boy undergoes gynecomastia surgery to remove excess breast tissue. Surprisingly it’s fairly common for boys to develop some breast tissue during puberty thanks to hormonal changes. This typically happens between the ages of 12-14.
However, often this glandular tissue goes away over the course of puberty. Because of this, a board certified plastic surgeon would caution against a male breast reduction surgery for a few years to see if the tissue dissipates after puberty. The boy in the episode had significant enough breast tissue that it most likely wouldn’t have fully subsided during puberty and he would likely still require gynecomastia surgery when he was older to remove the excess tissue.
Causes of Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia can be caused by a wide variety of reasons. Biology can be a cause, such as the hormonal changes that happen during puberty. Conditions that affect the endocrine system and the pituitary gland can also be culprits. Other common causes include aging, genetics, or the use of anabolic steroids.
At Colorado Plastic Surgery Center, Dr. Nick Slenkovich routinely sees male patients with gynecomastia, and performs breast reduction surgery on male patients to reduce the size of breast tissue. If you are concerned about an excess of breast tissue, please contact us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Slenkovich.