How to tell if you have Gynecomastia?

Are you a male who suffers from enlarged breasts? If so, you’re not alone. A condition known as gynecomastia impacts males of all ages across the U.S. Thankfully, Dr. Mazaheri is here to address your concerns and provide the solution you’ve been looking for.

Before contacting Dr. Mazaheri and his plastic surgery team, take some time to look through this gynecomastia guide to determine whether you might have the condition.

What Is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia—also referred to as man boobs—is a benign enlargement of the breasts in boys and men due to excess tissue. This condition is primarily caused by a hormonal imbalance and can occur in males of any age but is most common in adolescents and men over the age of 50. Gynecomastia can impact either one or both breasts. When occurring in both breasts, the enlargement is usually uneven.

Gynecomastia should not be confused with pseudo gynecomastia, which is breast enlargement in men who are overweight. Men who are overweight have excess fatty tissue in the breast area, whereas men who aren’t overweight have excess glandular tissue. This condition is different from traditional gynecomastia and has a different treatment approach.

How Does Gynecomastia Affect My Body?

Gynecomastia is not a dangerous condition and only causes mild pain or discomfort, if any. Wondering what gynecomastia looks like? It often presents itself through small lumps in the breasts.

How to Know If You Have Gynecomastia?

Now you know what the condition is, but how can you tell whether you have gynecomastia? Keep an eye out for the following signs and symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms of Gynecomastia

While some males with gynecomastia experience no symptoms, others experience some or all of the following common signs and symptoms.

  • Enlarged breasts
  • Sore, swollen, or painful breasts
  • Sagging breasts
  • Stretched areolas
  • Tender chest area
  • Asymmetrical breasts

What Causes Gynecomastia?

Hormonal Imbalance

Both men and women produce certain levels of estrogen and testosterone. Estrogen production plays a key role in the development of breasts. Men naturally produce higher levels of testosterone, while women naturally produce higher levels of estrogen. Gynecomastia occurs in men who produce higher-than-average estrogen levels and lower-than-average testosterone levels. This hormonal imbalance allows for the development of excess breast tissue in males.

Glandular Tissue Gynecomastia

This type of gynecomastia affects men who have breast tissue below their nipple-areolar complex which causes a bulging effect.

Glandular tissue gynecomastia surgery involves:

  • A small incision being made around the nipple-areolar complex
  • Bulging tissue, approximately the size of a golf ball, being cut away from the area
  • Repositioning of the nipple (if appropriate) to produce a natural contour effect in the chest area

Localized Chest Fat

For men with a lot of fat in their chest, the resulting appearance can appear to look like gynecomastia. In these cases, liposuction is the recommended treatment.

Liposuction surgery involves:

  • Small incisions being made around the area
  • A long, hollow cannula inserted through the incisions
  • Back and forth movements dislodging the excess fat
  • Excess fatty tissue being removed through these small liposuction ports via a suction device attached to the cannula
  • A new chest contour being sculpted which looks natural for your body shape

Loose Skin

Another cause of gynecomastia is increased skin laxity which often occurs with age or after excessive weight loss. For this type of issue, skin tightening procedures may be undergone.

What Else Might Cause Gynecomastia in the Breasts?

While a hormonal imbalance is the #1 cause of gynecomastia, other factors can cause the condition to develop. The following physiological and non-physiological factors can lead to gynecomastia.

Physiological Causes

Natural Hormonal Changes

  • In Infants: A large percentage of male infants have enlarged breasts for two to three weeks after birth. This occurs when the mother’s estrogen levels remain in the baby’s blood supply after the baby is born. Gynecomastia in infants typically goes away quickly on its own.
  • In Teens: Hormone changes that occur in males during puberty may cause temporary gynecomastia. Most cases resolve themselves within six months to two years.
  • In Adults: Effects of the male aging process can cause men over the age of 50 to develop enlarged breasts. Excess body fat increases estrogen production, which causes breast tissue to grow more quickly. Gynecomastia in adult men is much more common than it is in male infants and teenagers.

Health Conditions

Certain health conditions can result in gynecomastia. Those health conditions include—but are not limited to—the following:

  • Hypogonadism
  • Aging
  • Tumors
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Kidney disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Malnutrition and starvation

Non-Physiological Causes

Substance Use or Abuse

The consumption of drugs and/or alcohol can cause gynecomastia to develop. Drugs that are most commonly associated with gynecomastia development include:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Amphetamines
  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Methadone (Methadose)


Below is a comprehensive list of prescription and over-the-counter drugs that have been linked to gynecomastia.

  • Anti-androgens taken for an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, or another condition
  • Anabolic steroids and androgens that treat hormone deficiencies, delayed puberty, or muscle loss
  • AIDS medication
  • ADHD medications containing amphetamines
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Antibiotics
  • Ulcer medications
  • Chemotherapy
  • Heart medications
  • Stomach-emptying medications
  • Lavender and tea tree oils

How Is Gynecomastia Diagnosed?

If you show any signs of gynecomastia, schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you have gynecomastia, he or she will be able to identify the underlying cause and recommend a customized treatment plan—whether that be medication, hormone therapy, or surgery.

During your visit, the doctor will review your medical history and family history before performing a thorough physical exam. Since gynecomastia symptoms overlap with many symptoms of other conditions, your doctor may also perform the following tests to determine what condition you suffer from.

  • Blood test
  • Urine test
  • Mammogram
  • Ultrasound
  • Biopsy

How Is Gynecomastia Treated?

Gynecomastia can be treated both surgically and non-surgically. The following factors will help your doctor determine the best course of action for your case.

  • Age
  • Current health condition
  • Health history
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Reactions to certain medications and treatments
  • Patient preference

Male Breast Reduction Surgery

Male breast reduction surgery is a form of plastic surgery that removes excess breast tissue. This option is preferred for males with more severe and/or long-term cases of gynecomastia that don’t respond well to medication or hormone therapy. Surgery is also recommended for patients who might experience a negative reaction to gynecomastia medication.

Who Should Consider Male Breast Reduction Surgery?

Males with gynecomastia that doesn’t disappear on its own, with medication, or with hormone therapy should consider scheduling breast reduction surgery. Males with low self-esteem due to their gynecomastia may also choose to undergo breast reduction surgery.

Read our Gynecomastia Surgery Recovery Guide <- Here!

Schedule a Gynecomastia Consultation With Dr. Mazaheri

Do you need a customized treatment plan for your gynecomastia? Contact Dr. Mazaheri, the most sought-after plastic surgeon in Scottsdale, Arizona. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Mazaheri has the skills and experience needed to identify the cause of your condition and offer the right solution. Don’t wait any longer to get the treatment you need. Schedule your free consultation today.

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