If you clicked on this article, you may have some level of experience with man boobs or ‘moobs’, right? You might just be a curious bug who saw the word floating around your social media feed or you know someone who has them, or perhaps it’s you with the man boobs. Either way, we can bet that this article will help you understand the condition more and learn an effective treatment in case you’re scouting for one.
Before anything else, let’s define what man boobs are first. Gynecomastia is the more clinically appropriate term for this condition; and we emphasize it because man boobs are often thrown away carelessly as a play of words to describe relatively bustier men who have gained some extra pounds that directly went into their chests. Now while this is witty and harmless to a certain extent, it also has negative connotations and is in fact a medical condition. Gynecomastia is a condition wherein men develop enlarged breasts from excess fatty tissues. At a glance, it can look like a button-sized lump below the nipple either in one breast or on both. Some cases become so severe that the breast tissues accumulate abnormally that the lump size increases causing the areola, the dark-colored area of skin encircling the nipple, to stretch and sag. Not only does the breast appear larger, it also looks protruding in a non-visually pleasing way. Sometimes, the areola feels tender to the touch as well, causing a feeling of discomfort, alongside the embarrassment from the overall look. Because of this, a lot of men actually have unpleasant experiences with man boobs, and often get them for reasons beyond storing fat from small weight gain. For many guys, the causes of man boobs are more complicated. Ultimately, Gynecomastia is caused by an imbalance in the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Basically, lower testosterone levels or higher estrogen count causes extra breast tissues that enlarge the boobs.
Normal weight fluctuations, for instance from packing a few pounds over the summer, is not associated with gynecomastia but weight comes in as a leading cause of enlarged breasts in more severe cases like obesity. The excessive weight causes hormonal imbalance because the level of estrogen in the body increases, causing breast tissues to increase in size as well. Testosterone suppresses the growth of cells in the glandular tissues while estrogen increases it. Thus, higher estrogen means the hormone takes over the development of the chest and turns it into man boobs. In addition, obesity also creates excess skin and tissue which distributes all over the body including the chest area.
Testosterone is mostly known for developing male reproductive tissues such as the testes and prostate, but it also helps in regulating the libido or sex drive, growing body hair, enhancing muscle mass, energy, concentration, and overall mood. Thus, some patients who experience these symptoms seek to increase their testosterone levels through therapy, either through skin and mouth patches, gels, and injections and implants. However, experts warn that it also has the potential to increase estrogen, as some of the testosterone gets converted in the process, causing growth in the breasts. This case is rare but should it occur, patients must inform their doctors immediately to halt treatment.
Steroids are known to treat hormonal imbalances and certain illnesses that cause loss of muscles, but some, mostly athletes and bodybuilders take steroids in an attempt to build muscle, enhance performance, and improve overall physique. The most commonly abused are Anabolic steroids, the man-made synthetic variations of male sex hormone testosterone. Anabolic steroids, however, cause breast growth as well, in the same way TRT does. During the increase in the testosterone levels, some are converted into estrogen which causes enlargement of the breasts.
Gynecomastia can also be a potential side-effect of certain medications. It is not a common case but some drugs that treat illnesses and diseases can lead to the condition. Gynecomastia can develop as a side-effect to treatment drugs for the following:
More importantly, and perhaps it goes without saying, nothing good rarely comes out of abusing most substances, especially illegal ones. Alongside, anabolic steroids, amphetamines and marijuana can also lead to overdeveloped breasts.
Certain diseases and conditions can also have a more direct effect on male breasts, surpassing drugs as a possible link, due to the hormonal imbalance they cause. These conditions include:
As men get older, it is a natural body occurence to produce less testosterone, and thus the hormonal imbalance happens. Fat accumulation is also normal among aging men which can produce higher levels of estrogen causing the breast tissues to grow and the man boobs to develop.
Now that you know what causes man boobs, what options for treatments are there? Obviously, there is not one treatment especially considering the causes we discussed. You definitely cannot stop old age nor treat severe conditions just like that. A good piece of advice of course is to steer away from substance and alcohol abuse. They do not only lead to gynecomastia but to other more complicated and even dangerous illnesses as well. It is simply not worth it! For a more specific treatment recommendation, Gynecomastia surgery is a common option for males experiencing overdeveloped breasts. Also known as Male Breast Reduction Surgery, the procedure is the main surgical treatment for gynecomastia. During the procedure, excess tissue deposits are removed either through liposuction or with the help of excision techniques. Ultimately, this procedure provides a more natural and better-contoured chest profile. The surgery, however, is not applicable for clients with existing severe medical conditions. It would greatly help you to consult to determine your fit. Dr. Alonzo has conducted tens of Male Breast Reduction surgery over the last decades. This surgery is one of the popular male procedures conducted at Alonzo Cosmetic Surgery clinic and our clients have gotten only the best and safest experience. So, if you are interested in the procedure, we would love to have a conversation with you on your options.
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1. “Enlarged breasts in men (gynecomastia) - Symptoms and causes.” Mayo Clinic, 16 October 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gynecomastia/symptoms-causes/syc-20351793
2. “Treatment of testosterone-induced gynecomastia with the aromatase inhibitor, anastrozole.” PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14963480/
3. Rhoden EL, Morgentaler A. Treatment of testosterone-induced gynecomastia with the aromatase inhibitor, anastrozole. Int J Impot Res. 2004 Feb;16(1):95-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3901154. PMID: 14963480.