What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is the medical term for the occurrence of enlarged breast tissue in men. Caused by a hormonal imbalance, gynecomastia can cause emotional and social anxiety, leading many men to seek treatment. While distressing, gynecomastia is actually relatively common, with about 60% of men worldwide exhibiting gynecomastia to some degree.
Do I Have Gynecomastia?
- 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.
What Are the Symptoms of Gynecomastia?
Man boobs can cause physical, as well as emotional, symptoms.
Men who have been diagnosed 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.
The Anatomy of the Male Breast
A normal male breast contains some glandular, or breast, tissue.
The breasts of men and women are both composed of breast tissue, fatty tissue, and connective tissue. Women have a larger amount of glandular (breast) tissue than men, with the amount of tissue present fluctuating throughout the woman’s life.
Men with gynecomastia have more breast tissue present, due to changes in hormone levels. Because glandular tissue is located at the front of the breast, an increase in glandular tissue causes a noticeable protrusion on the male breast. This causes the breasts to take on a more feminine appearance.
- Normal Male BreastSmall amount of gland tissue.
- GynecomastiaBreast contains excess gland tissue.
- PseudogynecomastiaSmall amount of gland tissue.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
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 man boobs, 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 man boobs, 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
How Bad Is My Gynecomastia?
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 man boobs. 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
How Can I Get Rid of Gynecomastia?
There are many resources available online that can help you explore your treatment options. You may find that diet and exercise when done properly – are effective ways to reduce fatty tissue. While websites are a good place to start, they are not a replacement for a consultation with a doctor who is experienced at treating men with gynecomastia.
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?||Gynecomastia||Pseudogynecomastia|
|Exercise||Minor. May help with excess fat, but will not affect glandular tissue||Minor to significant. Diet and exercise may help reduce the amount of fatty tissue.|
|Non-Invasive Fat Reduction||Minor. May help reduce excess fat, no impact on glandular tissue||Minor to significant. It will depend on individual anatomy and responsiveness.|
|Liposuction||Minor to moderate. Excellent for fat removal, but will not affect the glandular tissue||Significant. Liposuction can remove excess pockets of fat|
|Gynecomastia surgery (tissue excision)||Significant. Can help reshape the breast||Unnecessary.|
The most effective way to treat gynecomastia is with surgery
* There are different types of sedation used in Male Breast Reduction 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.
Click here to find a Male Breast Reduction surgeon next to you.