What is Gynecomastia?

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Gynecomastia, or over-development of the male breast, is a condition frequently associated with devastating social and emotional trauma. If you or a loved one has this condition, know that you are not alone. In fact, sixty percent of males worldwide have some degree of gynecomastia.

Do I Have Gynecomastia?

Adolescent or adult men who are typically diagnosed with gynecomastia may experience

  • Swollen, enlarged male breasts
  • Chest tenderness
  • Moveable, fibrous tissue beneath the nipple in one or both breasts
  • Tissue that feels hard, distinct from softer fatty tissue.
  • Changes in mood and sex drive

Not all "moobs" (man boobs) are classified as gynecomastia – they can also be Pseudogynecomastia, a condition that is characterized by excess fat in the chest. A gynecomastia specialist can help you properly diagnose your condition.

Gynecomastia can cause physical, as well as emotional, symptoms.

Men who have been diagnosed with gynecomastia may experience:

  • Swollen, enlarged breasts
  • Breast tenderness
  • Moveable, fibrous tissue beneath the nipple in one or both breasts.
  • Tissue that feels distinct from softer fatty tissue.
  • Changes in mood and sex drive

Not all "moobs" are classified as gynecomastia–they can also be pseudogynecomastia, a condition that is characterized by excess fat in the chest.

A normal male breast contains some glandular, or breast, tissue.

The male breast is composed of different types of tissue: connective tissue, fatty tissue, and breast tissue. Unlike the female breast, the glandular tissue in a man’s breast does not typically grow much. A man with gynecomastia experiences an increase in the amount of breast tissue.

  • Normal Male BreastSmall amount of gland tissue.
  • GynecomastiaBreast contains excess gland tissue.
  • PseudogynecomastiaSmall amount of gland tissue.

It typically occurs due to a hormonal imbalance.

Men produce both testosterone and estrogen – the male and female sex hormones, respectively – but in different quantities. When a man's testosterone level decreases and estrogen level increases, breast tissue can develop. This hormonal upset can be triggered by different factors.

There are a number of highly referenced medical conditions and drugs connected to gynecomastia, such as specific congenital disorders and anabolic steroid abuse. Age and massive weight loss can also be related to abnormal male breast development.

Did You Know?


About Gynecomastia and Testosterone

  • Adults can develop gynecomastia, often in ages 50-80.
  • After the age of 30, testosterone levels decrease by 1% every year
  • Up to 70% of adolescents can suffer from temporary or permanent swelling of breast tissue
  • An estimated 10–25% of cases result from the use of medications

Gynecomastia can be classified, based on physical features

When gynecomastia surgeons examine patients, they look at different physical features to determine the severity of the gynecomastia. Some features include: breast size, breast ptosis (droopiness), excess, skin, puffiness in the nipples, skin elasticity, amount of tissue, and chest shape.

The American Society of Plastic Surgery developed a classification system allowing specialists to evaluate your condition and how to best treat it.*

  • Grade 1Minor breast enlargement, no excess skin

  • Grade 2AModerate breast enlargement, no excess skin

  • Grade 2BModerate breast enlargement, some excess skin

  • Grade 3Significant breast enlargement, excess skin

Learn More

Avoid false advice that is often found online. Talk to an experienced doctor who treated patients with similar conditions. It is important to note that herbal supplements, diet and exercise can reduce fatty tissues when done right.

However, if your chest contains harder breast tissue, it would need to be removed surgically in order to achieve a lean, masculine look. Read patient stories to know what to expect and find out how much surgery can cost.

In which cases can non-invasive procedures help improve the shape of the male chest?

What effect does it have?GynecomastiaPseudogynecomastia
ExerciseMinor. May help with excess fat, but will not affect glandular tissueMinor to significant. Diet and exercise may help reduce the amount of fatty tissue.
Non-Invasive Fat ReductionMinor. May help reduce excess fat, no impact on glandular tissueMinor to significant. It will depend on individual anatomy and responsiveness.
LiposuctionMinor to moderate. Excellent for fat removal, but will not affect the glandular tissueSignificant. Liposuction can remove excess pockets of fat
Gynecomastia surgery (tissue excision)Significant. Can help reshape the breastUnnecessary.

The most effective way to treat gynecomastia is with surgery

* There are different types of sedation used in gynecomastia surgery, including local and general anesthesia. Your plastic surgeon will detail his preferences prior to surgery.

Incisions: During the procedure, incisions are made, typically around the edge of the areola.
Liposuction: Fat is removed via suction.
Tissue Excision: Excess glandular tissue is removed.
Suturing: After the tissue excision, the incisions are closed.
Bandage and Dressing: The breasts are dressed with bandages.

Considering Surgery?

Click here to find a gynecomastia surgeon next to you.

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Featured Doctors

Metropolitan Plastic Surgery
3833 N. Fairfax Drive Suite 350
Arlington, Virginia 22203
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106
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Marlton, New Jersey 08053


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