The overdevelopment of male breasts, also known as gynecomastia, affects 40 to 60 percent of men. Men with large or sagging breasts can be physically and emotionally uncomfortable, often restricting themselves from certain activities due to feeling self-conscious about the size of their breasts.
Gynecomastia can be caused by anything from a hormonal imbalance to side effects from drugs, or it can occur for no particular reason. No matter the cause, this condition can quickly become a severe problem in any man’s life. But what is the most common cause of gynecomastia? And what can you do about it?
Hormonal imbalances cause gynecomastia
Gynecomastia is triggered by a decrease in the amount of the hormone testosterone compared with estrogen. Testosterone controls male traits, such as muscle mass and body hair, while estrogen controls female characteristics, including the growth of breasts.
While all men produce some estrogen, they usually have much higher testosterone levels, which stops the estrogen from causing breast tissue to grow. This can occur during three distinct phases:
- Infancy: More than half of male infants are born with enlarged breasts associated with their mother's estrogen. Generally, the swollen breast tissue resolves within two to three weeks after birth.
- Puberty: Increased hormone changes during puberty are relatively common, and the swollen breast tissue should go away without treatment within six months to two years.
- Adulthood: Gynecomastia is prevalent among men ages 50 to 80 as hormonal changes occur with age.
Several other things can upset the hormone balance, including the following:
- Medications, such as anti-androgens, anabolic steroids, AIDS medications, and heart medications, to name a few
- Recreational and illicit drugs
- Health conditions such as hyperthyroidism, kidney failure, and malnutrition
Gynecomastia symptoms and treatments
While most adult men with gynecomastia report no symptoms, they include:
- Breast pain, particularly in adolescents
- Swollen breast tissue
- Breast tenderness
- Nipple sensitivity with rubbing against clothes
Most cases of gynecomastia resolve over time without treatment. However, if an underlying condition causes gynecomastia, that underlying condition may need treatment. Additionally, if you're taking medications that may cause gynecomastia, your doctor may recommend stopping them or substituting another drug.
Treatment may be necessary if gynecomastia doesn't improve on its own or if it causes significant pain, tenderness, or embarrassment. You may consider surgery (male breast reduction) if enlarged breasts are significant and bothersome, such as:
- Liposuction, which removes breast fat but not the breast gland tissue itself
- Mastectomy, which removes the breast gland tissue
Schedule your male breast reduction consultation
At AdmireMD® Plastic Surgery + Skin Clinic, we offer male breast reduction in Phoenix who want to decrease their breasts' size while feeling more comfortable and confident.
If you want to learn more about gynecomastia surgery in Scottsdale, call us at 480.946.3155 and schedule a consultation with Anthony A. Admire today! We’re here to help you look and feel how you’ve always wanted.