The primary symptom of gynecomastia is the development of enlarged male breasts.
What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia, sometimes called “man boobs,” refers to enlarged male breasts caused by excess breast tissue growth. The main cause of gynecomastia is low levels of testosterone compared to estrogen, the female hormone. Gynecomastia may affect one or both breasts; if one, usually on the left side.
Gynecomastia symptoms can occur multiple times during a typical man’s life:
- During puberty, gynecomastia develops in the majority of boys. Breast enlargement during puberty is often referred to as teen gynecomastia and will normally resolve within two years.
- Approximately 25% of men over 60 years old can develop gynecomastia. The cause of gynecomastia symptoms around or above this age is associated with weight gain and the change in testosterone levels that typically begin to fall when men get older, causing “low-T”. Low-T causes enlarged breast gland tissue, and weight gain increases breast volume, resulting in enlarged male breasts.
Symptoms of Gynecomastia
Symptoms of gynecomastia can vary. Four gynecomastia grades are used to help doctors determine the most appropriate type of gynecomastia surgery to address enlarged male breasts.
Common gynecomastia symptoms include:
- Male breast tissue enlargement. The swollen breast tissue is located below the nipple and usually feels firm or rubbery.
- Male breasts may be tender or painful (consistently or intermittently) when touched.
- In young boys going through puberty, a breast bud or disc may be felt under the nipple. This breast growth usually resolves within two years.
- On rare occasions, male breast cancer may develop. Malignant (cancerous) breast masses are associated with older men, and gynecomastia symptoms often develop on only one side. Additional symptoms of male breast cancer may include skin puckering, nipple discharge, contraction of the nipple, or enlarged lymph nodes in the underarms.
- Another cause of enlarged breasts can be an infection or a breast abscess. Infection of the male breast glands is rare and is associated with pain, swelling, skin color changes, and fever.
Diagnosis of Gynecomastia
A gynecomastia diagnosis will include a full review of your medical history and a physical exam. Occasionally blood tests may be requested when there is no obvious cause of your gynecomastia symptoms.
Treatment of Gynecomastia Symptoms
Male breast reduction surgery is a proven treatment to permanently get rid of enlarged male breasts. Breast gland excision with liposuction (removal of fatty tissue) is the most common procedure for gynecomastia.
Before surgery, your surgeon will determine the cause of your gynecomastia symptoms and discuss the different options available with gynecomastia surgery.
Choosing Your Plastic Surgeon
Gynecomastia surgery is performed by various types of surgeons. For the highest likelihood of successful gynecomastia surgery, you should choose a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in treating gynecomastia.
For personalized information about gynecomastia plastic surgery procedures, please complete Dr. Delgado’s inquiry form.
Miguel Delgado, M.D., F.A.C.S is a world-renowned Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon granted by the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Society. Dr. Delgado has a surgical practice solely dedicated to cosmetic plastic surgery. He specializes in gynecomastia surgery and is the medical director of Gynecomastia.org, the oldest and largest gynecomastia forum dedicated to supporting, educating, and providing solutions for men with breast enlargement. Dr. Delgado celebrates 30 years of practice in San Francisco, California. He was voted the “Best Plastic Surgeon of 2017-2021”.
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The content on Gynecomastia.org is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. It does not replace the need to meet with a physician who will accurately diagnose your condition and suggest treatment options.