Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia (guy-nuh-koh-MAS-tee-uh) is an increase in the amount of breast gland tissue in boys or men, caused by an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Gynecomastia can affect one or both breasts, sometimes unevenly. Newborns, boys going through puberty and older men may develop gynecomastia as a result of normal changes in hormone levels, though other causes also exist. Generally, gynecomastia isn't a serious problem, but it can be tough to cope with the condition. Men and boys with gynecomastia sometimes have pain in their breasts and may feel embarrassed. Gynecomastia may go away on its own. If it persists, medication or surgery may help.

Symptoms

Gynecomastia can be a side effect of certain medicines, such as antidepressants, antibiotics, chemotherapy, prostate cancer medicines, ulcer or cardiovascular medicines. Illegal drugs, such as anabolic steroids, heroin, or marijuana can also cause gynecomastia. Some diseases and medical conditions may also cause gynecomastia. These include: Liver diseases Kidney disease Lung cancer Testicular cancer Tumors of the adrenal glands or pituitary gland Some conditions that a baby is born with (congenital disorders) Thyroid disorders Injury or trauma Obesity Newborn babies may have a short-term form of gynecomastia. This is often because a mother’s estrogen stays in a baby’s blood for a while after birth. Gynecomastia is not linked to breast cancer. It is rare that men get breast cancer. But your provider may do some tests to rule out breast cancer.

When to see a doctor

It is important to see your doctor if you have:
  • swelling
  • pain or tenderness
  • a nipple discharge from one or both breasts
If your gynecomastia is upsetting you, it may be worth considering counselling and support from other people who have the condition. Your doctor can suggest where to get support.

Causes

Gynecomastia is usually a benign (noncancerous) condition. It may be linked to many different causes of hormone changes. In many cases, the cause isn’t known. Gynecomastia is often caused by changes in levels of the female hormone (estrogen) and the male hormone (testosterone). But it can be caused by other things as well. Gynecomastia can be a side effect of certain medicines, such as antidepressants, antibiotics, chemotherapy, prostate cancer medicines, ulcer or cardiovascular medicines. Illegal drugs, such as anabolic steroids, heroin, or marijuana can also cause gynecomastia.

Risk factors

Risk factors for gynecomastia include:
  • Adolescence
  • Older age
  • Use of anabolic steroids or androgens to enhance athletic performance
  • Certain health conditions, including liver and kidney disease, thyroid disease, hormonally active tumors, and Klinefelter syndrome

Prevention

There are a few factors you can control that may reduce the risk of gynecomastia:
  • Don't use drugs. Examples include steroids and androgens, amphetamines, heroin, and marijuana.
  • Avoid alcohol. Don't drink alcohol. If you do drink, do so in moderation.
  • Review your medications. If you're taking medication known to cause gynecomastia, ask your doctor if there are other choices.

Gynecomastia surgery scars

Any surgical treatment to correct gynecomastia will require incisions. While most incision lines are concealed within natural contours, some may be visible and are a necessary result of male breast reduction surgery. All gynecomastia surgery scars are permanent, even though some scars may be concealed in the natural contours of the breast. Your improved upper body will likely enhance your self-image and confidence, whether in a shirt and tie, a t-shirt or baring your chest at the beach.

Results

Gynecomastia surgery results are immediately visible. Over time, post-surgical swelling will resolve and incision lines will fade. Satisfaction with your new image should continue to grow as you recover from surgery. The final results of your gynecomastia surgery may take 3-6 months to achieve.

Before - After

Frequently Asked Questions

Does exercise correct man boobs?

Exercise can reduce excess stored fat on the chest; however, it has no effect on the dense glandular tissue caused by gynecomastia. Some men are dismayed to find that no matter how hard or often they exercise, their breasts do not get smaller.

How is gynecomastia treated?

The only way to reverse gynecomastia is through male breast reduction surgery. During the operation, the surgeon uses a combination of liposuction and excision techniques to remove fat and glandular tissue. Excess skin is removed and the remaining skin is tightened over the chest. The nipple-areolar complex can be reduced and relocated higher on the breast, if needed.

How much time does it take to recover from male breast reduction surgery?

Recovery varies by patient and the scope of their procedure. Most patients return to work and socializing after about a week. Light exercise can be resumed two weeks after surgery and more strenuous activities four to six weeks after surgery.

Is there noticeable scarring after surgery?

As long as the surgeon makes the incisions carefully and in the natural folds of the skin, the incision lines should fade considerably after surgery. Most men are happy to trade their enlarged breasts for barely noticeable scars.

Can man boobs grow back after surgery?

In most cases, the results of gynecomastia surgery are long-term. However, weight gain, steroid or drug use and hormone fluctuations may lead to a recurrence of gynecomastia. Dr. Lee can provide more information about maintaining the results of surgery in a consultation.

What are the benefits of gynecomastia surgery?

In addition to improving the appearance of the chest, gynecomastia surgery can also lead to an increase in self-confidence and sexual satisfaction. Many men have newfound motivation to exercise and maintain their results.