Gynecomastia Causes And Treatments - Mark Jewell, M.D. | Mark Jewell, M.D.

How Common Is Gynecomastia and What Can Be Done About It?

Updated January 6, 2014

Gynecomastia, or enlarged breasts in men can be an upsetting and embarrassing problem. The enlargement can cause teasing about “man boobs” and an unattractive fit in clothing. Gynecomastia is usually caused by hormonal fluctuations. It may cause not only breast swelling, but also tenderness of the breast and discharge from nipples. Although it is not a serious condition, men may seek treatment with Dr. Jewell to restore the appearance, sometimes requiring a male breast reduction procedure.

man after plastic surgery

What Causes Gynecomastia?

Breast enlargement in men can have a number of causes. Natural hormone changes are the primary cause in most cases. However, some medications can also cause breast enlargement, such as steroid medication, androgen medications, AIDS drugs, heart medications, anti-anxiety medications and tricyclic antidepressants. Certain medical conditions can cause male breast enlargement, such as tumors, kidney failure, hypogonadism, cirrhosis of the liver or malnutrition. Even simple aging can cause enlargement in the appearance of the breast. Breast tissue may sag as the underlying collagen and muscles lose their natural tone. Breast tissue may also require tightening after extreme weight loss when the body loses fat tissue and the breast become pendulous.

How Common Is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia may occur in male infants that receive female hormones from their mothers while they were in the womb. About half of all male infants will have this condition, which usually resolves on its own. Gynecomastia may also occur in puberty.

The condition can also occur during the ages of 50 to 80 when hormone levels again begin to fluctuate. About one in four men may have breast enlargement in this age group. Gynecomastia caused by medical conditions is highly variable and may not occur in all men that have these conditions.

Treatments for Gynecomastia

Some medications may be helpful for gynecomastia, such as tamoxifen and raloxifene, two drugs used to treat breast cancer in women. However, these drugs may not be effective for all men. In some cases, Dr. Jewell will use Vaser liposuction to reduce excess fat tissue from the breast to provide a better, more masculine appearance. For severe cases, patients of Dr. Jewell’s may require a male breast reduction procedure to remove excess tissue and tighten skin on the chest. Male breast reduction may also be a good solution for patients who have enlarged breast tissue because of extreme weight loss.

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