Men in cosmetic surgeons’ offices were once very rare, but in recent years, more cosmetic surgeons around the United States have reported higher rates of men walking into their clinics. As a result, there has been greater awareness around men’s cosmetic issues, including gynecomastia. This is a common problem that affects roughly 4 percent of males aged 10 to 19, but can appear occur at almost any age. But what is gynecomastia – and what causes it?

What is gynecomastia?

All men have very small amounts of breast tissue. Gynecomastia refers to the enlargement of this glandular tissue in the male breast. This condition is common during infancy, puberty, and in older age.

What causes gynecomastia?

Overly large breasts in men usually result from a hormonal imbalance. All men and women have varying amounts of male and female hormones – estrogens and androgens. In most people, these hormones assume a normal ratio. However, in some men, these hormones can become imbalanced.
Gynecomastia is often a side effect of a larger problem. It can result from the use of different medications, as well as certain forms of drug abuse. It can also result from medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, chronic kidney failure, and cirrhosis.

Is gynecomastia linked to obesity?

No, although obesity can result in pseudo gynecomastia. Overly large breasts resulting from fatty deposits in the chest are not the same as gynecomastia, although they may look similar. These fatty deposits will often disappear with successful weight-reduction strategies, such as diet and exercise. However, if they persist even after weight loss, these deposits can also be removed with liposuction.

How can gynecomastia be treated?

Gynecomastia can be treated with male breast reduction surgery. During this procedure, a cosmetic surgeon can remove excess breast tissue and resculpt the chest. However, breast reduction surgery should take place after the original cause of the hormonal imbalance has been resolved.