When men develop feminine-looking male breasts, this is known as gynecomastia. This issue can happen on one side of the chest or on both.

Gynecomastia can be extremely embarrassing. The swelling can cause a feeling of heaviness on the chest and the area can be tender to the touch, thereby causing a lot of discomfort. It can cause pain at times, and in some cases, it may even lead to discharge from the nipples.

What Are the Potential Causes of Gynecomastia?

Male glandular breast tissues can become enlarged due to a number of reasons. Understanding the potential cause of your gynecomastia will help you decide on the best way to resolve it effectively.

The most common reason for gynecomastia is a hormonal imbalance. Testosterone and estrogen are the male and female sex hormones, respectively. While both are present in the body, in men there is usually more testosterone. This helps in creating male characteristics.

A reduction in testosterone levels and a corresponding increase in estrogen levels can lead to a development of female characteristics, like the growth of glandular breast tissue.

A natural hormonal imbalance occurs during hormonal changes at the puberty stage or when one reaches older ages. Apart from this natural hormonal imbalance, gynecomastia can be caused by any of the following:

• Health conditions like liver cirrhosis, malnutrition, hyperthyroidism, and testicular diseases can lead to hormonal changes that in turn cause gynecomastia.

• There are certain medications that can cause hormonal imbalance leading to gynecomastia. These include some types of antibiotics (metronidazole, ketoconazole), anti-ulcer medicines (ranitidine, omeprazole), anti-retroviral therapy given to treat HIV, diazepam, and substances that are abused (alcohol, heroin, and marijuana).

• Sometimes, anti-androgen therapy is given to treat prostate cancer. This can cause a hormonal imbalance.

• Some products used for skin care, like lavender oil and tea tree oil, can lead to the development of gynecomastia.

• Use of steroids can lead to gynecomastia.

• Certain risk factors like puberty in boys and aging in men above age 50 increase the risk of developing gynecomastia.

What Can Be Done to Correct Gynecomastia?

There are two types of tissues in the breasts that can get swollen. One is glandular tissue, and when there is excess glandular tissue, the condition is known as gynecomastia. The other is fatty tissue, and when there is excess fatty tissue, this is known as pseudogynecomastia.

Pseudogynecomastia can often be addressed with the help of changes in diet and a rigorous exercise routine. Liposuction can also be used to remove the excess fat from the chest for a contoured and more masculine appearance.

With gynecomastia, in most cases, the hormonal imbalance causing the condition is only temporary and will resolve on its own after a while. Estrogen will reduce and testosterone will increase, restoring the balance and reducing excess breast tissues.

However, when this does not happen, medications can be taken that block the functioning of estrogen. In severe cases where there is pain and other options don’t help, male breast-reduction surgery may be carried out to remove the glandular breast tissue.

Male breast reduction involves tissue excision using a scalpel. Excess skin is often also removed and the areolae may be resized. In some cases, excision and liposuction are both necessary to recontour the chest.

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If you’re looking to get a more attractive male chest, double-board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Wayne Lee can help. Contact our office to schedule your initial consultation today!