Gynecomastia is a medical condition that causes breast enlargement in men and boys. It may affect a single breast or both breasts.
As women are typically the ones who struggle with various breast-related conditions, it makes sense that gynecomastia is one of the only breast disorders occurring in males. It’s also the most common — affecting between 50 and 65 percent of men around the world.
So, what causes gynecomastia? Below, we’ll take a look at the top four reasons men may develop this condition.
First, though, don’t read on unless you’re sure it’s really gynecomastia you’re struggling with. Here’s what you need to know.
Natural Hormone Changes
It’s not so uncommon for a young man going through pre-puberty or puberty to develop excess fat and tissue on his chest. As a result of the natural physical changes that occur during these times, young men’s bodies are receiving surges of hormones. This can, in turn, sometimes cause the appearance of “breast buds”, which simply manifest as excess tissue and fat around the nipples.
While this can be an uncomfortable stage for young men to go through, it is completely normal. In almost all cases, adolescents will notice these “breast buds” go away as they mature into adulthood, which is why nothing should be done about them other than encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
While gynecomastia may be caused by certain normal changes in a person’s hormones, imbalanced hormones can also be the cause of this condition. One way you’ll know if your excess breast tissue is “abnormal” is to consider your age.
Even baby boys can have excess tissue on their small chests, and as we stated, young men going through pre-puberty and puberty may also experience this condition. However, if you are an adult and you’ve noticed excess breast tissue, you may want to consider that a hormonal imbalance may be causing it. There are various reasons this could be occurring, so you’ll want to see your doctor or a specialist to learn more.
Most of the time, for men, imbalanced hormones have to do with producing too much estrogen and not enough testosterone.
Specific illnesses such as cancer of the pituitary or adrenal glands, liver cancer, testicular cancer, cirrhosis, overactive thyroid, or hepatitis may be linked to excess breast tissue as well. Usually, gynecomastia manifests as a symptom.
If this is suspected, your doctor will want to look at any other symptoms you’ve been experiencing, and you will certainly want to undergo tests to determine the root cause of your illness.
Select Medications or Drug Use
The ingestion of certain substances can also cause gynecomastia, and this includes doctor-prescribed drugs.
For example, certain antidepressants and antianxiety medications have been linked with gynecomastia, as have drugs used to treat ulcers and specific heart conditions like digitalis. Cancer-related treatment drugs also fall into this category, as do certain epilepsy medications and antiandrogen drugs (often used in the treatment of prostate cancer).
In terms of other substances, which may be used for recreation, many drugs such as opioids, amphetamines, marijuana, methadone, and anabolic steroids have been known to contribute to gynecomastia. Finally, some essential oils and natural drugs have also been linked to excess breast tissue. Lavender oil and tea tree oil have both been studied for this reason.
Can You Get Rid of Gynecomastia on Your Own?
This depends on what caused your gynecomastia in the first place.
If you are a young man of 11 or 13, for example, and you are experiencing gynecomastia, the best thing you can do is wait. You may want to increase your exercise and lose some “baby weight” if it makes you feel more comfortable. Sometimes, building muscle and reducing overall body fat can help reduce the appearance of gynecomastia. Typically, though, no drastic measures should be taken for a growing young man who is experiencing this condition.
If you are an adult male it may be possible to get rid of gynecomastia independently, but again, it depends. Similar to a boy going through puberty, if you have excess fat on your body, sometimes getting fit can help alleviate excess breast tissue. However, this isn’t the case for everyone.
If you are questioning whether you have a hormonal imbalance, underlying medical condition, or another condition affecting your estrogen or testosterone (or if you think it may be substance-related), it’s worth seeing a doctor to investigate. They will be able to prescribe medical tests and conduct exams to determine the underlying cause of your gynecomastia.
What to Do if Gynecomastia Doesn’t Go Away
In some cases, gynecomastia may not go away on its own, and then you may need surgery. In this case, it’s best to meet with a plastic surgeon who has experience performing gynecomastia surgery.
Dr. Raja Mohan is experienced with this condition and the surgery that can ameliorate it. Gynecomastia surgery reduces excess breast tissue, skin, and fat, and restructures the chest for a more masculine appearance. It is suitable for otherwise healthy men with excess breast tissue, who cannot fix this issue (or the underlying cause of the issue) in another way.
To learn more about gynecomastia and gynecomastia surgery, contact Dr. Raj Plastic Surgery today and schedule a consultation appointment.