Gynaecomastia (Male Breasts)

What is Gynaecomastia?

Gynaecomastia is the overgrowth of male breast tissue. It is a common condition that affects mostly teenage boys and older men. Most men find the condition embarrassing and are reluctant to talk about it.

The symptoms vary from a small firm and tender lump beneath or round the nipple in teenage boys (stonies) to larger, more female looking breasts in older men. It can affect one or both breasts.

True gynecomastia, caused by an overgrowth of breast tissue, is different from pseudo-gynaecomastia, which is mainly fatty tissue. It may be a mixture of both types.

Treatment options

In most cases treatment is not necessary as the condition will resolve on its own.

For some men, removing the cause (changing medication) is all that is required.

You will very seldom need medication to treat the cause of gynaecomastia.

Liposuction is often used to correct pseudo-gynaecomastia.

The combination of liposuction and surgery may be necessary for larger cases of true gynaecomastia.

Dr Kelly will discuss the different treatment options available with you.

What causes Gyaecomastia?

PUBERTY

Boys usually start puberty once they reach their teenage years. At this time, hormone levels change and boys may notice that their breast are tender to touch and/or are growing. Up to two out of three teenage boys develop some degree of gynaecomastia with 90% of these cases returning to normality by 19 years of age.

AGEING

As we age we tend to have more body fat, which produces more oestrogen. As men age they produce less testosterone. The combination of an increase in oestrogen and reduced testosterone levels has an effect on breast tissue, causing the breasts to enlarge.

The increase in body fat in later life may be particularly noticeable in the breast area – this is known as pseudo-gynaecomastia.

DRUGS AND MEDICATION

Some drugs – both prescription and recreational – can cause gynaecomastia. They may either contain oestrogen or have an oestrogen-like effect (marijuana).

Anabolic steroids, used by certain fitness fanatics and body builders, can also cause gynaecomastia.

DIET

The more fat cells a person has in their body, the more oestrogen they produce, which can make breast tissue grow.

ALCOHOL

Alcohol taken in large doses stimulates the liver and can cause a hormone imbalance. In such cases, testosterone levels reduce but oestrogen levels rise, which means that breast tissue can grow.

Sometimes one is not able to find out why a man develops breasts, however, the treatment options remain the same.

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