Gynecomastia FAQ’s: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

By Chuma Chike-Obi, MD June 19, 2018 No Comments

gynecomastia

Gynecomastia is a condition where the male breasts become overly enlarged. Gynecomastia can lead to self-esteem issues for many affected men. It is estimated that up to 60% of all males worldwide develop some degree of gynecomastia at some point in their lifespan.

What is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is the enlargement of male breast gland tissue to a point where the male chest can develop female characteristic, sometimes looking ‘breast-like’. Gynecomastia differs from lipomastia, which is fat deposits along the chest of obese males. Over-development can occur in one or both breasts; in fact, asymmetric breast tissue growth can be common.

What are the Symptoms of Gynecomastia?

The primary symptom of gynecomastia is the development of breasts that look like female breasts and/or enlarged “puffy” nipples. Often the breasts feel firm or “rubbery” to the touch. Some men may experience tenderness or sensitivity of the breasts but severe pain is rare.

What Causes Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is usually associated with a hormonal imbalance between testosterone and estrogen levels. This imbalance can occur from the body’s reaction to various medications (including antibiotics, corticosteroids, anti-anxiety medications), drugs (anabolic steroids, opioids) and various medical conditions (hyperthyroidism, obesity, kidney failure, liver cirrhosis).

Who gets Gynecomastia?

Males, regardless of age or race, may experience the condition. It is estimated that nearly 50% of male infants are born with gynecomastia due to their elevated estrogen levels upon birth, but for most the condition is short-lived. Development during puberty is also common as the body experiences severe hormonal changes. Finally, males between the ages of 50 to 69 may experience gynecomastia as testosterone levels begin to decline.

Can Weight Loss Reverse Gynecomastia?

No. Unfortunately, weight loss will not resolve gynecomastia as it is caused by glandular growth (not fat deposits). The enlarged breast tissue will not be affected by weight loss so there is no way to “work off” the enlarged male breasts.

Gynecomastia Treatment Options

Male breast reduction surgery (sometimes referred to as gynecomastia surgery) is the most effective way to treat gynecomastia. The procedure begins with the surgeon making small incisions in the armpit or around the nipple. The surgeon then removes targeted excess breast tissue. Depending on the needs of the patient liposuction can also be utilized to remove excess fat and further sculpt the breast. The incisions are then closed with sutures.  Sometimes surgical drains are required for a few days. Downtime is usually about 2 weeks.


Chuma Chike-Obi, MD

Chuma Chike-Obi, MD completed a 6 year residency with the Division of Plastic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and Affiliate hospitals in Houston, Texas. Dr. Chike-Obi specializes in cosmetic surgery, including facelift, blepharoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and reconstructive breast surgery.


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