What Causes Gynecomastia?

What Causes Gynecomastia?

You may have heard the term “man boobs” before, or some variation of this. The term “man boobs” refers to the medical condition known as gynecomastia—a common condition that afflicts men of all ages and causes low confidence and discomfort. Many men avoid tight clothing for fear of judgment and desperately seek a remedy. Gynecomastia surgery can be life-changing for these men. However, it’s important to first determine the cause of your gynecomastia before embarking on a possible surgical solution.

Understanding Gynecomastia

There are several different variations of gynecomastia, but no matter the cause, they are characterized by growth of breast tissue. Depending on the severity of a patient’s condition, gynecomastia’s appearance ranges from fullness around the nipples to more prominent breasts that may look feminine. For some men, excess tissue can become tender, painful, or may chafe against skin and clothing.

Possible Causes of Gynecomastia

The causes of gynecomastia vary widely, so understanding your own case may not be straightforward. Below, you’ll find a list of possible causes, but a diagnosis from a medical professional is required. Sometimes, examination and testing by your primary care physician in addition to your plastic surgeon is recommended.

Weight Gain

One of the more common causes of gynecomastia is obesity or being overweight. Weight gain results in accumulation of fatty tissue in the breast, causing enlargement. Additionally, excess weight can lead to an increase in estrogen, causing glandular breast tissue to also grow. If your gynecomastia is caused by obesity, Dr. MacLennan and Dr. Schmidt may recommend losing weight with routine exercise and a healthy diet before moving on to surgical intervention.

Steroids, Medications, and Other Drugs

There are a variety of medications and drugs that can lead to the development of gynecomastia. Certain medications prescribed to treat heart disease, high blood pressure, or ulcers are common culprits. Anabolic steroids cause changes in hormones that can lead to breast enlargement. Illicit drugs, like cannabis, or excessive alcohol intake can also lead to gynecomastia.

Stopping use of these substances may help diminish the appearance of male breasts. For cases where gynecomastia is a side effect of a prescription medication, you may want to talk to your doctor about switching medications to alleviate your symptoms. If that is not possible, or discontinuing the offending medication did not resolve the problem, you can discuss alternative solutions with us at Mountain Lake Plastic Surgery.

Genetic Predisposition

Gynecomastia is more likely to develop in those who are genetically predisposed. It can develop at any age, but commonly occurs as boys enter puberty. Normal changes in hormones can cause male breast development. Puberty is a long process that requires patience, but most cases of pubescent gynecomastia will clear up as hormones level out. In some cases, gynecomastia persists through adulthood and surgical correction may be needed.

In some cases, newborn babies may be born with gynecomastia. The placenta is packed with hormones and nutrients necessary for fetal development. Among these is estrogen, which can cause the breast tissue in newborns to swell—these cases are temporary and will fade quickly as the baby continues to grow.

Other Reasons

Older men tend to develop gynecomastia naturally, as part of the aging process. As men age, there’s a simultaneous decrease in testosterone and an increase in body fat. This compound problem leads to breast tissue growth. This is a common cause of gynecomastia that usually requires surgery to correct.

In rarer cases, a genetic disorder or testicular tumor could cause an increase in breast tissue growth. For this reason, it’s important to have a testicular exam by your primary care doctor. These rare causes of gynecomastia will require a more in-depth evaluation and testing to ensure the best results for the patient.

Where to Have Your Operation

At Mountain Lake Plastic Surgery we are passionate about transforming the lives of our patients. Our dedicated surgeons are experts in gynecomastia operations and are here to guide you through the process of surgery and recovery. If you are interested in male breast reduction, schedule a consultation with Mountain Lake Plastic Surgery.