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Is there a link between marijuana and gynecomastia?

Is there a link between marijuana and gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, is one of the most common reasons that men consult with plastic surgeons. In fact, according to ASAPS (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery), between 2011 and 2012 there was a 30 percent increase in men undergoing plastic surgery specifically for gynecomastia. Although there are a multitude of reasons for the development of gynecomastia, one of the most common reasons is a decrease in the amount of the hormone testosterone circulating in the blood stream compared with estrogen.  Logically, anything that decreases testosterone levels or increases estrogen levels causes an imbalance in the ratio between estrogen and testosterone. The body responds to this by creating excessive breast tissue.

There are many things that can make the ratio of testosterone to estrogen to become unbalanced.  Natural hormonal changes that occur with age, many prescription medications, street drugs and alcohol, certain health conditions, anabolic steroids and herbal products have all been shown to throw off the normal ration of testosterone to estrogen.

The first association between marijuana and gynecomastia was a study performed in 1972 that demonstrated a clear link between marijuana usage and gynecomastia; this was contradicted that a smaller study done in 1977 looking at soldiers that showed no clear link between marijuana and gynecomastia. There have been many studies that show the active ingredient in marijuana can decrease testosterone levels. Marijuana suppresses the natural levels of testosterone in men. This imbalance very likely contributes to tmale breast development.

If you have smoked marijuana or currently use marijuana, there are surgical procedures in place to treat your gynecomastia. If there has been a small to moderate increase in the breast size then UAL (Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction) most likely is the procedure of choice.  This procedure is very similar to “regular” liposuction but is aided by the use of a thermal broke that breaks up fibrous male breast tissue prior to removing with a liposuction cannula. The surgeon would use a very small incision on the breast, and then utilize suction to remove the excess fatty tissue. For men with larger breasts that also sag, a surgical excision to remove excess skin and breast tissue, as well as reposition the nipple and areola, is a better option. Healing time depends from patient to patient, but typically most patients can resume normal activities within one to two weeks.

Botox and its role in treating cancer

If there wasn’t already enough to love about Botox, now there is one more thing. As we all know, Botox injections into the face have wonderful cosmetic benefits and can make you look years younger by removing wrinkles from the forehead, crow’s feet and glabella (between the eyebrows). What you almost certainly didn’t know is that new research from Columbia University Medical Center has found that Botox may have a role in limiting the growth of stomach cancer. The research, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, demonstrated that the combination of chemotherapy and Botox boosted survival rates 35% in mice compared to chemotherapy alone. Given that gastric (stomach) cancer is the fourth-leading type of cancer and the second highest contributor of mortality in the world, if the same results ultimately are shown in humans, this could lead to saving thousands of lives..

The primary authors of this groundbreaking work have noted that, with stomach cancer, many nerves exist in and around tumor cells; this is true in both mice and human cancers. The authors hypothesized that blocking nerve signals to cancer cells could make them more vulnerable by blocking one of the key factors that control their growth. One of the treatments therefore utilized in treating gastric cancer is a surgical procedure known as a vagotomy, in the primary nerve to the stomach, the Vagus nerve is cut. Although effective in limiting nerve signals to tumor cells, it is an invasive surgical procedure with significant potential complications.

Botox achieves its effects, even for cosmetic applications, by blocking a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Blocking acetylcholine through facial injections lessens wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing muscles. Acetylcholine also stimulates cell multiplication, thereby providing a link to cancer treatment.

Phase two of clinical trials using actual patients is now currently being conducted in Norway. Botox can be administered to the nerves to the stomach by inserting a small fiberoptic tube through the mouth to the stomach; the procedure is relatively quick and patients can go home shortly after the procedure. Obviously, this has yet to become mainstream treatment in the fight against gastric cancer, but the obvious potential benefits are huge!

So next time you are getting your cosmetic treatment with Botox, remember that big things are still being discovered with this amazing drug. Not only is Botox fantastic at making us all look younger, but could also have tremendous health benefits in the fight against cancer!

Avoid potentially harmful medications before surgery!

Before cosmetic surgery there are many things you have to think about. One very important thing to discuss with your doctor is the medication that you are currently taking. Herbal medications need to be included in your list of medications, as they can have many potent and unexpected side effects.

Avoiding aspirin, NSAIDS, (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) alcohol, and herbal supplements such as fish oil for at least two weeks pre-operatively is optimal.  If a doctor has specifically put you on blood thinning medications for health reasons, your plastic surgeon will need to know this to make arrangements on taking you off.

Aspirin is a drug that affects platelet function. Platelets are a type of cell in your body necessary for forming clots, which is important to limit bleeding during surgery. The process for platelet regeneration typically takes two weeks to replace any affected platelets. You would need to stop taking any aspirin two weeks prior to your plastic surgery procedure therefore to regenerate your platelets.

Alcohol, especially red win,e is another substance to avoid before your procedure. Alcohol interferes with coagulation (clotting) of the blood and can increase the chance of bleeding during surgery, therefore prolonging your recovery. Alcohol can also increase your postoperative swelling as it widens your blood vessels, which in turn can cause your body to swell.

Other medications to avoid would also include many herbal supplements. An impartial list includes Fish Oil, Ginko Biloba, Garlic, Ginger, and Vitamin E, just to name a few. Most patients do not inform their doctors of the herbal medication they are taking because they see them as safe and natural. This does not mean that they do not cause side effects! To prevent an avoidable complication that may arise in surgery, your doctor needs to know every medication you are taking. Stopping these medications two weeks prior to surgery can significantly decrease bleeding during and after surgery.

Even something seemingly “innocent” such as cinnamon or licorice will need to be stopped before surgery. Cinnamon is a medication that contains coumarone, which is a compound of Warfarin; this is one of the most common prescription blood thinners prescribed to patients. This is just one example of a “simple” herbal medication that actually can have some major consequences.

Obviously, avoiding a postoperative complication is ideal with any surgery, but particularly in regards to completely elective surgery. The best thing you can do as a patient is provide your plastic surgeon with a complete list of medications you take, both prescription and over-the-counter. In addition, if your physician provides you with a list of medications to avoid, read the list and follow it! This could mean the difference between an uneventful and complication-filled recovery.



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9101 N. Central Expwy.
Suite 600, Dallas, TX 75231
Tel: 214.827.2814
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