What is Gynecomastia – How To Get Rid of Man Boobs

How To Get Rid Of Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is the condition where the breast tissue of boys or men swell up, caused by an unusual composition of the two hormones, oestrogen and testosterone. Usually, the breasts sizes differ and can affect one or both breasts. It is also commonly known as “moobs”,male breasts, man boobs or simply as “men with breasts”.

It was reported that the number of British men going under the knife for plastic surgery has doubled over the last ten years. And gynecomastia is a condition that contributes to the rising number of plastic surgery procedures for men.

This post is meant to help those who are suffering from gynecomastia. We are not medical doctors and the information provided is not medically linked or approved. It is NOT MEANT to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Seek your doctor’s help if in any doubt.

Gynecomastia Is Not Life Threatening

Gynecomastia is caused by the excessive growth of breast tissue within the breast glands. It results in the swelling of the male chests, making them look like breasts. The phrase gynecomastia is the coming together of two Greek words. Gyanik Means female and Mastos means breast. Gynecomastia is not a serious health problem. It has no complications.

The only harm it can do to a man is the ridicule they get from onlookers and observers. The hurtful words on gynecomastia can affect a man’s self-esteem and self confidence. It makes the patient feel less about himself and be ashamed of his own body. Many sufferers of gynecomastia cannot cope with the emotional aspect of the condition.

Gynecomastia is different from pseudogynecomastia or lipomastia, conditions that are related to fat deposits in obese men. Gynecomastia need not be weight related. It is due to the hormonal imbalance of estrogen and androgens.

To illustrate, here is a bodybuilder (who is NOT fat) suffering from gynecomastia:

By David Andrew Copeland, Dr. Mordcai Blau http:::gynecomastia-md.com (Own work) [GFDL (http:::www.gnu.org:copyleft:fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http:::creativecommons.org:licenses:by-sa:3.0:)], via Wikimedia Commons

By David Andrew Copeland, Dr. Mordcai Blau http:::gynecomastia-md.com (Own work) [GFDL (http:::www.gnu.org:copyleft:fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http:::creativecommons.org:licenses:by-sa:3.0:)], via Wikimedia Commons

Gynecomastia is not a serious problem. It is the social stigma the causes stress to the victim. Most victims suffer from derogatory remarks from strangers and friends. If the problem develops further, the patient can suffer from pain in their breasts.

Newborns and boys going through puberty or older men might suffer from gynecomastia due to changes in hormone levels. Other causes cannot be ruled out. Though gynecomastia can go off on its own, it is always advisable to seek the advice of a doctor. Common forms of treatment include medication and surgical operations.

If you are suffering from gynecomastia, you are not alone. In fact, according to statistics, about 36% of young men and 57% of older men in the United States suffer from gynecomastia. More than 200,000 new cases of gynecomastia are reported every year. And this is a common medical condition. 1 in 3 young men suffer from it and 1 in 2 older men suffer from some form of breast enlargement.

How Do Patients Suffering From Gynecomastia Feel

Most boys and men find that having enlarged breasts is a very embarrassing and disgraceful thing. Thus, males suffering from gynecomastia are not willing to share their condition with family members. It is human nature to feel sad being laughed at. Some relatives might just tell the sufferer to treat his condition as if its non-existent. Belittling the problem will not help the sufferer of gynecomastia in any way.

Telling the victim that their problem is not a problem is not only insensitive, it displays an attitude of negligence, especially if it comes from a young boy’s parents. The poor young kid or teenager is left alone to suffer in silence from the condition. It crushes his self esteem and can result in adolescence depression. The good news is that most cases of adolescence gynecomastia goes away on its own. However, if the condition persists beyond the teenage years, it is likely that it will carry on to many years in adulthood.

For some adult sufferers of gynecomastia, they might feel a sense of inadequacy. They suffer from a poor self image and feel that they are not masculine enough to date any women. This can lead to a lonely social life due to self exclusion from social activities. This mental barrier, if left untreated, can lead to a series of behavioural problems.

An adolescent suffering from Gynecomastia:

Photo Credit :By David Andrew Copeland, Dr. Mordcai Blau www.gynecomastia-md.com (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit :By David Andrew Copeland, Dr. Mordcai Blau www.gynecomastia-md.com (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Symptoms of Gynecomastia

The initial symptoms of gynecomastia is the swelling of the male breasts. The swelling is caused by the glandular tissue instead of fatty tissues. The breasts tend to have a rubbery or firm feel. It can occur in both breasts or one of them. The enlargement of the breasts can be unevenly distributed.

Example of asymmetrical gynecomastia:

By David Andrew Copeland, Dr. Mordcai Blau www.gynecomastia-md.com (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By David Andrew Copeland, Dr. Mordcai Blau www.gynecomastia-md.com (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Some symptoms of gynecomastia include:

– Swollen breasts

– Breast tenderness

However, symptoms of gynecomastia should not be confused with symptoms of breast cancer. Breast cancer can occur to men and makes up about 1% of all breast cancer cases. Breast cancer usually affects only one side and need not be centered around the nipple.

You should visit your doctor when you feel an abnormal swelling in your breasts causing pain and tenderness. If there is nipple discharge in one or both of your breasts, urgent medical attention is required.

Gynecomastia Surgery – Who Is a Right Candidate?

The right candidate for gynecomastia surgery includes the following:

  • Men who have tried alternative treatments but have not seen visible results
  • Men who do not have any other life threatening diseases or medical conditions that can prevent proper healing of the surgical site
  • Men who do not smoke
  • Men who do not take illegal drugs or suffer from any other unhealthy addiction
  • Men who are optimistic about what the surgery can do for them
  • Men who are healthy and are not overweight
  • Men who have positive and realistic expectations
  • Men whose gynecomastia condition has become predictable and the size of the breast has stabilized
  • Men who acknowledge that gynecomastia is hindering their lives and want to proactively make a positive change

Gynecomastia Surgery Consultation

Before going for the gynecomastia surgery, you need to address some of your concerns with your plastic surgeon. At the same time, your doctor will ask you some questions. Here is a list of items you might want to take note of before the surgery.

Some of the topics for discussion include:

  • Your surgical goals
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
  • Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and recreational drug use (including steroids)
  • Previous surgeries

Your gynecomastia plastic surgeon might also ask you to:

  • Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • Perform diagnostic testing to determine the underlying cause of gynecomastia; this may include testing of your endocrine function
  • Examine your breasts and may take detailed measurements of their size and shape, skin quality, and placement of your nipples and areolas
  • Take photographs for your medical records
  • Discuss your options
  • Recommend a course of treatment
  • Discuss likely outcomes of gynecomastia correction and any risks or potential complications
  • Discuss the use of anesthesia during your procedure

It is important they you clear your doubts about any aspect of the surgery with your doctor. Any lingering doubts will add to the anxiety before the surgery and contributes unnecessary stress.

Causes of Gynecomastia

When the body secretes lesser amount of hormone testosterone compared to estrogen, it can trigger off gynecomastia. There are certain conditions which causes this to happen. Some of the common causes of hormonal changes include:

Natural Hormone Changes During Life Stages

The two hormones, testosterone and estrogen, determines the development and support of sexual characteristics in men and women. Testosterone is commonly known to many to control the men sexual traits, such as hair and body muscle. Estrogen, on the other hand, leads the female traits, including the development of breasts, pubic hair and armpit hair. Estrogen also helps to regulate the menstrual cycle in women, controlling the growth of the uterine lining.

Watch the Video Below of A Doctor Suffering from Gynecomastia:

Estrogen is not only secreted by females, it is also produced by males. The only difference is the production quantity of estrogen. In males, if the estrogen rises too high or causes an imbalance with testosterone, it can result in gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia in babies:

Newborn male babies are born with enlarged breasts. This is due to the estrogen from the mother. Such condition is only temporary as the enlarged breasts turn to normal in the first three weeks after the baby is born.

Gynecomastia During Puberty:

During puberty, its common to have lots of hormonal imbalances. Thus gynecomastia is common amongst teenage males. However, the swollen breast tissues should go away on its own without any treatment. This is due to the self corrective mechanism in the human body. Some of the enlarged breasts will go away as soon as six months, while some can wait up to two years. Gynecomastia that resolves on its own without any treatment is also known as physiologic gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia that persists beyond two years during puberty is also known as persistent pubertal gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia in Older Men:

The next group of men susceptible to the gynecomastia are between 50-80 years old. As the men reach male menopause and the level of testosterone decreses, it can cause an hormal imbalance. The ratio of infection in this age group is 1 in 4.

An example of extreme gynecomastia:


By David Andrew Copeland, Dr. Mordcai Blau www.gynecomastia-md.com (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Medications that Cause Gynecomastia

– Antiandrogens that are used to treat prostate problems such as prostate cancer and male contraception, can be effective against gynecomastia. Some antiandrogens include flutamide, finasteride (propecia which is also used for treatment of hair loss) and spironolactone

– Anabolic Steroids and androgens

– Medications used for the treatment of AIDS. HIV positive men are prone to gynecomastia, especially those who are undergoing highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). The commonly used treatment is Efavirenz (Sustiva)

– Medications used to treat anxiety problems, such as Valium

– Tricyclic antidepressants

– Antibiotics (examples include isoniazid, Nizoral, Kuric , Flagyl)

– Treatments used for ulcers, such as Tagamet, Zantac and Prilosec

– Cancer treatment such as Chemotherapy

– Anti-androgen or estrogen therapy for prostate cancer

– Heart medications such as Lanoxin and calcium channel blockers (nifedipine, Procardia)

Day to day items and illegal drugs that can cause gynecomastia:

– Alcohol

– Amphetamines

– Marijuana

– Heroin

– Methadone

Health Conditions that Lead to Gynecomastia:

Some health conditions that consist of the imbalance of hormones also cause gynecomastia:

– Malnutrition and excess dieting :

When deprived of proper food intake and nutrition, our human body reacts by reducing the secretion of testosterone, while estrogen levels remain constant. This hormonal imbalance causes gynecomastia. Even if the diet goes back to normal, gynecomastia can still occur.

Hyperthyroidism: This condition results in the production of excessive thyroxine causing hormonal imbalance, leading to gynecomastia

Tumors : Some tumors that affect the testicles, adrenal or pituitary glands, can affect their functions. It can produce hormones in unusual quantities, causing hormonal imbalance, leading to gynecomastia.

Aging : As men age, there is a tendency to gain extra weight due to inactivity. Overweight males are susceptible to hormonal imbalance and thus a higher chance of gynecomastia.

Hypogonadism : Health conditions that are linked to testosterone production will cause gynecomastia. Examples include Klinefelter syndrome and pituitary inadequacy.

Kidney Failure: Some people on kidney dialysis experience gynecomastia due to hormonal imbalance.

Herbal Products Can Cause Gynecomastia

Unknown to many, herbal and natural products can cause gynecomastia. Examples are plant oils such as tea tree oil or lavender oil. Some shampoos and soaps, or even lotions have such ingredients in them. These substances have slight estrogenic activity that can cause gynecomastia unknowingly to the user.

Risk Factors of Gynecomastia

A typical person suffering from gynecomastia falls into one of these categories:

– Adolescence

– Older men

– Men who use anabolic steroids for increasing sporting performance

– Men suffering from health issues like liver and kidney diseases, thyroid malfunction, tumors affecting the hormonal glands and Klinefelter syndrome.

Complications of Gynecomastia

There are little complications from gynecomastia. It is mainly the psychological and emotional impact on the patient. Cruel words and poisonous tongues are one of the most devastating side effects of gynecomastia. If society were to be kinder to the patients, the anxiety faced by the patients can be reduced dramatically.

Men with Gynecomastia is also five times more likely to have male breast cancer compared to the general male population. The hormonal changes that cause gynecomastia is the culprit rather than the condition itself.

Gynecomastia Tests and Diagnosis

The general definition of gynecomastia is when there is a breast tissue larger than 0.5cm in diameter in a male. Gynecomastia is the presence of breast glandular tissue generally located around the nipple. It has nothing to do with enlarged breasts that are due to obesity.

The initial consultation with your doctor will involve providing answers to your medical history and drug allergies. Your doctor might ask you about your family medical history to see if there is any hereditary link to your condition.

Your doctor will also do a physical examination other than verbal questioning. The physical examination might include areas of your body such as the abdomen, genitals and your breast tissues.

Some of the preliminary tests of your condition include Blood tests and mammograms. Blood tests are used to determine the hormonal levels in your body. Mammograms are done to ensure that the condition is not due to a more serious disease like breast cancer.

Depending on your preliminary test results, your doctor might need additional tests to confirm a condition or situation. Some of the additional tests include:

– computerised Tomography Scans or commonly known as CT Scans

– Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scans, also known as MRI scans

– Testicular ultrasounds

– Tissue Biopses

Ensuring That Gynecomasatia Is The Cause

There are other health conditions that can cause breast swelling and enlargement. As such, it is important that your doctor is able to isolate and identify the true cause of the breast swelling. Some examples of other conditions that can cause breast enlargement in men include:

– Fatty Breast Tissue – Fat chest on fat men and boys is also known as false gynecomastia. This condition is occurs simply due to overweight and NOT hormonal imbalance gynecomastia.

– Breast Cancer – This is possible to occur. Though most of us associate breast cancers with women, there are documented cases of men getting the disease. If there is a firm lump spotted in the men’s breast, it signals the possibility of breast cancer instead of gynecomastia. If the biopsy confirms the presence of cancer cells, you might undergo a completely different treatment.

– Breast Abscess – This is just an infection of your breast tissue.

Treatment and Drugs for Gynecomastia

Many cases of gynecomastia are left untreated. Not treating the condition does not mean it will turn fatal. Many undiscovered cases of gynecomastia simply regress over time. However, if the cause of gynecomastia can be determined, then it is important to focus on the underlying condition that causes gynecomastia in the first place.

Examples of such underlying conditions include hypogonadism, malnutrition or cirrhosis.

Some medications you take may have triggered gynecomastia. In this case, your doctor might advise you to stop the medication and provide you with an alternative course of treatment.

In teenagers, treatment is not administered immediately if there is no known cause. The situation will be monitored for a period of three to six weeks. The typical time frame for gynecomastia to go away on its own is 2 years. However, you should never leave the condition untreated if the condition progresses to cause significant discomfort, pain and embarrassment.

Medications for Gynecomastia

– Some common drugs used against breast caner can be used for gynecomastia.

– Some doctors might prescribe Tamoxifen or raloxifene. However, it must be noted that the FDA has not specifically approve these drugs for gynecomastia.

– Testosterone replacement has also proven to be effective for older males. However, for younger males with normal levels of testosterone, this treatment is ineffective

– Clomiphene can be taken for up to 6 months

– SERM Tamoxifen can be used to reduce the size of the breast in gynecomastia. This is only used when there is pain associated with the enlargement of the breasts. It is not a cure.

– A less commonly used treatment is Danazol which helps to reduce the production of estrogen by the testes, thus correcting the hormonal imbalance that causes gynecomastia.

Surgery for Gynecomastia

The other alternative to oral medication is to undergo the following surgical options:

– Liposuction – this surgery has been around for a long time. IT is used to remove breast fats but never the breasts itself.

– Mastectomy – This surgery removes the breast gland tissue completely. This is usually less invasive as it is done endoscopically. The recovery time is fast and the scars are small. The scars are usually hard to spot because they are very light.

– Reduction Mammoplasty is also used to reduce the size of the breasts when oral medications have failed to make any impact

Gynecomastia Surgery Risks

As with any surgical operation, gynecomastia surgery comes with risks. The best way to reduce the risk of complications is to follow your plastic surgeon’s advice. Never deviate from what he says during the procedure and after that.

You will be asked to read through some indemnity forms and will be made to sign some consent forms. The signing of the forms indicates that you fully understand the risk of the procedure.

Gynecomastia surgery risks include:

  • Reactions to tape, suture materials, glues, topical preparations or injected agents
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Bleeding (hematoma)
  • Blood clots
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Breast contour and shape irregularities
  • Changes in nipple or breast sensation may be temporary or permanent
  • Damage to deeper structures – such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs – can occur and may be temporary or permanent
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Fatty tissue found in the breast might die (fat necrosis)
  • Fluid accumulation (seroma)
  • Infection
  • Persistent pain
  • Poor wound healing
  • Possibility of revisional surgery
  • Unfavorable scarring

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It’s important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

Gynecomastia Surgery Preparation


Gynecomastia Surgery Recovery

After the surgery, dressings and bandages will be used to cover your surgical wound. There will be an elastic bandage meant to support the wound area to prevent any complications and swelling. If there is excessive bleeding, your doctor might have a small tube placed under your skin to drain any blood or excess fluid.

Pay attention to he pre and post surgery advice your doctor will give you. Those instructions are to be followed closely. Remember to administer the medications on time, including oral and topical medical aids. There will be instructions to prevent wound infection and when to have a follow up appointment with your plastic surgeon.

There are certain questions you need to ask your plastic surgeon:

  • where will you be taken to after the surgery
  • what are the medications that you will be given post surgery
  • will you have bandages for support after the surgery, how long do you need to put up with the bandages
  • do the stitches need to be removed? If yes, when?
  • when is the earliest to resume daily activites
  • when is the follow up appointment

Usually, a skilful plastic surgeon will perform the surgical operation with any hiccups. If you suffer from gynecomastia due to a drug problem or self induced habit, be sure to abstain from the habit till you have fully healed from the operation. We strongly recommend that you stop the habit altogether to prevent the recurrence of gynecomastia.

After you are discharged, if you suffer from shortness of breath, chest pains or discomfort, seek medical help immediately. These symptoms might indicate post surgical healing issues and might require additional hospital stays for observation.

You should never attempt to test the strength of the bandage or try to remove the bandage on your own prematurely. Never try to force the wound open or rub against the wound. These actions will cause infection and might result in more complications.

Gynecomastia Plastic Surgery Procedure Steps

Gynecomastia is a common plastic surgery procedure. You should check the credentials of your plastic surgeon before agreeing to undergo the surgery. Generally, the gynecomastia surgery includes the steps of anesthesia, liposuction process and the excision process.

Step 1 : Anesthesia

An Anesthesia specialist will administer either an intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. You should have discussed this with your plastic surgeon before the day of surgery. Anesthesia is to reduce the pain you will other experience in the procedure.

Step 2: Liposuction Process

Liposuction will be used to remove the excess fatty tissue that cause the enlargement of the breasts. A cannula or thin hollow tube is inserted via small incisions on your breast. The cannula is then used, through careful and controlled movement, to loosen the excess fat. The fat is then sucked out of the body by vacuum action.

There is no definite liposuction method. Your plastic surgeon will advise you on the appropriate method

Step 3: Excision Process

Excision techniques is necessary if the glandular breast tissue or excess skin have to be removed. It is also necessary if the areola is to be reduced or if the nipple needs to be moved to ensure a visually more natural position. Incisions patterns cannot be definite as it varies from each individual and his needs.

Sometimes, the excision process is not required and only the liposuction process is carried out.


How to Cope With Gynecomastia

Nobody expects a man to have enlarged breasts. Having enlarged breasts can be very traumatic and embarassing for any man. Since Gynecomastia is obvious visually, it makes certain situations very difficult for patients. Teenagers who are experiencing gynecomastia can find physical education lessons challenging.

Some of their friends in their classes can be cruel and use hurtful language and nicknames. Activities like going to the gym and swimming are abhorred by patients suffering from gynecomastia.

Such psychological damage can be worsened if patients keep to themselves without seeking outside help. It can lead to depression and even suicide. Parents with kids suffering from gynecomastia should be aware of the potential harm that this condition can inflict on their kids.

Coping With the Emotions from Gynecomastia

Most patients who suffer from gynecomastia feels that life is unfair and life has betrayed their trust. Such feelings are normal as in many cases of gynecomastia, no known cause is identified. Here are some of the ways patients can learn to cope with gynecomastia:

– Get Counseling. Talking about your problems and concerns about the condition can let off some steam built within you. It can also help your loved ones to understand the difficulties you are going through in your life. Do not be embarassed to share your difficulties with your counsellor as most of them went through professional training to walk you through your issues.

– Communicate With Family and Friends. Talk to your loved ones about the condition. Let them know it is not your fault that this condition persists. Most loved ones will understand your predicament and be sensitive towards it. Appreciate the support they provide you.

– Connect With a Support Group for Gynecomastia. It is not difficult to find a community of people suffering from gynecomastia. This is not a rare disease. Millions of people around the world learn to cope with it. By sharing ideas and issues with people suffering from the same condition, it is more than likely that you will receive lots of encouragement to weather through the problems and issues with gynecomastia. An example of an online help forum is gynecomastia.org

How To Prevent Gynecomastia

You can reduce your chances of getting gynecomastia by practising healthy eating habits. Stay away from illegal drug use such as steroids, androgen, amphetamines, heroin and marijuana.

If you need to drink alcohol, always drink in moderation. Avoid binge drinking.

If you are on medication known to cause gynecomastia, monitor the situation. If needs be, consult your doctor for alternative medication.

To sum up, one should not discriminate against patients having gynecomastia. It is important to understand their condition and learn to be sensitive and understanding of their situation. This post serves as a guide to gynecomastia and not a form of medical help. This serves to answer the question “what is gynecomastia”. Please seek professional doctor advice if necessary.