Frequently Asked Questions about Risperdal and Gynecomastia
What is Risperdal?
Risperidone, trade name Risperdal, is an atypical anti-psychotic drug approved for use in adults. Risperdal is most often prescribed for the treatment of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. The drug was promoted for off label-uses (prescribed for conditions other than their intended indications) in children and teenagers. Many patients taking Risperdal suffer from serious side effects, including Gynecomastia.
What is Gynecomastia?
An obvious symptom of Gynecomastia is abnormal breast tissue growth, especially in males. It results in significant breast enlargement and even lactation. Gynecomastia causes swelling, pain, and tenderness of one or both breasts, as well as milk discharge from the nipples.
How do I know my Gynecomastia is from Risperdal?
Risperdal causes the pituitary gland to secrete a common female hormone, prolactin. Prolactin stimulates breast development and milk production. Clinical studies link Risperdal and Gynecomastia. The frequency of gynecomastia, and hyperprolactinemia (abnormally high blood levels of prolactin), was significantly higher with Risperdal than any other antipsychotic. Therefore, Risperdal is also known to cause lactation, or milk production.
Are elevated prolactin levels harmless?
The short answer is NO. Any major changes in hormonal balance, regardless of the specific hormone, should not be taken lightly; especially, if hormonal changes began secondary to drug use. According to an FDA study, Atypical Antipsychotics and Pituitary Tumors, reports described prolactin level increases of 20-fold or more in some patients. The study also highlighted that Risperdal accounted for 63% of gynecomastia cases associated with men.
Do I suffer from Gynecomastia or am I just overweight?
There are major differences between gynecomastia and excess weight in the chest. Generally, gynecomastia is a combination of extra fatty tissue and glandular tissue. After taking Risperdal, you may experience hormonal changes. Breast growth is correlated to changing hormones, such as from an increase in prolactin. You can also examine your chest for gynecomastia. According to Medline Plus, gynecomastia may manifest as a small lump under the nipple that grows into looking more like a breast. Schedule a doctor’s appointment if you think you suffer from gynecomastia secondary to Risperdal use.
What are the psychological ramifications of Gynecomastia?
In addition to physical side effects, Gynecomastia has potentially devastating psychological impacts on both adolescents and older men. It negatively impacts their sense of self, body image, and emotional well-being. Adolescent boys may feel especially ashamed as a result of ridicule and humiliation from peers. Negative psychological effects include low self-esteem, emotional distress or trauma, self-loathing and criticism, social isolation, and distrust.
Is there a cure for Gynecomastia?
After stopping Risperdal, elevated levels of the hormone prolactin causing Gynecomastia may persist for up to two years. Once breast tissue has grown and skin has stretched, surgery to remove excess tissue and skin is often the only way to return a man’s body to its normal appearance. ASPS Member Surgeon Dr. Brian I. Labow states, “Early intervention and treatment for Gynecomastia may be necessary to improve the negative physical and emotional symptoms.” Furthermore, victims may also undergo counseling due to the psychological problems caused by the medication.
What are my options if I develop Gynecomastia after taking Risperdal?
You may be entitled to compensation for your emotional suffering, physical pain, or past, present, and future medical expenses. One of our personal injury attorneys can review your situation with a free case evaluation. They may advise joining the growing number of victims who have already filed lawsuits seeking financial compensation for Gynecomastia and other side effects secondary to Risperdal.