Summary: We tend to think of athletes as a kind of paradigm of body image. The athlete, in our culture, has basically the perfect body. But that ideal can be pretty far from the reality, especially when it comes to athletic bodies that are also coping with steroids or testosterone. The fact of the matter is that, in the world of bodybuilding and professional (or even amateur) athletics, there’s a lot of pressure to succeed, and sometimes that pressure culminates in the taking of substances such as steroids. And theat leads to another problem: gynecomastia–or, more commonly, male breast tissue. But getting rid of this type of male breast tissue is not the same as getting rid of any type of male breast tissue. From Los Angeles to Minneapolis gynecomastia surgeons have to be careful about what techniques they choose to deploy.
Male Breast Tissue
We tend to think of male breast tissue as something that’s associated with obesity. The cliché, of course, is that being overweight creates the breast tissue—which then persistently remains no matter how much diet and exercise one engages in. It’s a convenient way of blaming one for one’s misfortune, of course, because the type of male breast tissue that’s treated by a procedure such as gynecomastia surgery is rarely caused by obesity. Rather, there are other factors at work—often factors that are outside the realm of control for anybody. Indeed, one of the most common patients of gynecomastia surgery are those among us who we expect to be in the best shape: athletes.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First and foremost, athletes tend to build up a good amount of muscle. They do this because they eat a lot and they exercise a lot. So, obviously, a lot of muscle is formed. However, once those athletes retire, the amount of exercise tends to escalate rather quickly. It’s not so much that the body puts on fat during that time, it’s more that the muscle dissipates—it’s not growing at the same rate. So it’s not uncommon for athletes to develop gynecomastia as they grow older—not due to obesity, but simply due to their bodies reacting to less activity. Indeed, often this happens even before activity lessens. Sometimes, it’s just the way the body is.
Lifting Weights and Being Athletic
But sometimes there can be other factors. Athletes, especially, are often under intense pressure to perform physically and succeed physically. This leads not only to the use of muscle enhancing substances, but steroids as well. And while this is true of athletes of all stripes, it’s especially true of body builders. We don’t really want to get into a discussion on the ethics of this—or how we would all be tempted in such a situation (imagine a pill that made you better at your job—and that everyone else was taking). But one of the side-effects of taking steroids and other muscle-enhancing supplements can be the development of male breast tissue.
Indeed, a new study recently published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery looked at gynecomastia surgeries on those who had formerly fit into the category of body builders. The study itself looked at a little over a thousand former patients who had otherwise excellent physique. The study argues that bodybuilders require a slightly different approach when it comes to gynecomastia because of a lack of fatty tissue around the breast. The breast gland tissue is removed and, the study suggests, special attention should be paid to prevent bleeding and other complications.
Eliminating the Outside Source
Because the breast tissue is created by an outside source, it is, of course, quite important that any such habit be kicked before the procedure is performed. However, the study concluded that—in cases of healthy males—gynecomastia is a viable, relatively safe option for those who have developed breast tissue due to bodybuilding. This is important (as not all male breast tissue is created equal) because it gives all men a pretty good shot at having a very masculine physique and profile once the operation is over.
And, of course, that’s what it’s all about with gynecomastia: the achievement of masculinity. Male breasts, after all, are often seen as demeaning and emasculating, and that can make many men uncomfortable (the assumption, of course, is that feminine is bad, and that’s a whole other can of worms we’re just not going to open—it will suffice to say that male breasts can make some men feel quite uncomfortable). The discomfort associated with male breasts can be quite crippling: it can cause one to feel withdrawn, isolated, and ashamed of one’s own body. This can mean fewer days at the beach, fewer picnics, and lower self-esteem.
A More Masculine Profile, a Higher Self Esteem
So if you’re thinking about gynecomastia surgery, you definitely want to pay attention to whatever will help you achieve that more masculine profile. In the case of bodybuilders or professional athletes who are, basically, all muscle and maybe a little too much of this hormone or that, the breast tissue is different enough that it might be worth seeking out an expert. Who ever you see, it’s important to be up front about your medical history—including steroids or testosterone treatment. This will be key to ensuring that you get the results you’re after and have a safe operation.
Most men who decide to go through with gynecomastia procedures end up thrilled with the results. Indeed, it has a very high satisfaction rating (85%) on plastic surgery social media website realself.com. For a large chunk of men, achieving a masculine profile—and higher self-esteem and confident—cannot be achieved through diet and exercise. This means that surgery is a great solution. If you’re bothered by your male breasts, talk to your surgeon today.