Los Angeles has its share of pot shops and yes, gynecomsastia, which is also referred to in the lay literature as “man boobs”. Gynecomastia is a an embarrassing condition that has been linked to many things, including marijuana. But does smoking a dooby give men boobies? And how is it treated?
While it may surprise you that male breasts exist, what may more surprising is that male breast cancer exists. Make no mistake, men have breast tissue. But normally the breast tissue in men are not to the proportion that exists in women, thankfully. Excessive benign growth of male breast tissue in itself is generally not harmful physically, but the emotional side effects can be devastating.
Gynecomastia may develop abnormally from conditions associated with disease from the liver or thyroid or various metabolic disorders, hormonal disturbances, or as a side-effect of certain medications, or as a result of the natural decrease of testosterone production in older males. There are often claims of gynecomastia developing from drugs such as marijuana. But is this founded on any real evidence? Well, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) according to some in the field report that this drug lowers testosterone setting the stage for gynecomastia. But the jury is still out on this debate. Other scientists offer that THC promotes the release of a hormone called prolactin from the pituitary gland. The University of California reports that this THC generated prolactin secretion signals for breast growth in men. Hence, it makes sense that sustained high levels of prolactin as a result of regular THC exposure may eventually lead to gynecomastia in some men. The University of Texas Health Science Center reports that between 10 and 25 percent of gynecomastia cases are caused by marijuana and other drug use.
Make no mistake, whatever the cause of man boobs, in adolescent boys and adults the condition is often a source of distress. Fortunately, in most cases of pubescent gynecomastia that are not severe or not due to obesity, the condition may very well simply disappear within a few months or years without treatment. If gynecomastia perseveres, it is generally managed with surgery with surgical excision of the breast gland and liposuction. According to plastic surgery literature, when excision is not performed in severe cases, the recurrence rate may be as high as 35%. Naturally, the procedure has the best outcome when performed by plastic surgeons who have experience performing gynecomastia surgery. When done correctly, often with combination of excision of tissue behind the nipple and aggressive liposuction, recurrence is rare. Of note, medications are hardly effective for mature gynecomastia that is larger than 1 inch in diameter or in cases where the gynecomastia is in existence for longer than six months. And liposuction alone, while critically important to improve the cosmesis of the chest wall does not remove the breast gland; instead it is used to remove the surrounding adipose tissue, but liposuction is often considered paramount in improving the aesthetics of the chest wall in men with gynecomastia. When gynecomastia is so severe that the breasts hangs, sometimes skin excision is also warranted. Medication therapy alone may help in very early gynecomastia cases for which an etiology or cause has been well established, but for the large majority of cases medications are either not indicated or don’t work well in reducing the male breasts. Other non-surgical “treatments “ of male breasts include compression garmets which can camouflage chest deformity and stabilize bouncing tissue. Despite the profound psychological implications of men with breasts, or as the affected diva celebrity Dr. Bill Gordon calls them, “MWTs”, or “men with titties”, insurance doesn’t cover gynecomastia surgery. Most American insurance companies deny coverage for surgery for gynecomastia treatment or male breast reduction on the basis that it is a purely cosmetic procedure, which of course, is a complete falsehood. The treatment of male breasts in men is equally psychological by improving self esteem and body image. For more on gynecomastia, a good source is www.gynecomastia,org.Filed under: gynecomastia