Are you struggling with large breasts? Do they seem to be getting bigger and more troublesome, even though you’re doing everything you’re supposed to? If so, you may have gynecomastia. But it can be confusing to figure out if it is fat or gynecomastia.
This gynecomastia guide will provide you with all the information you need to know, including distinguishing it from the fat in your chest and getting treatment for it.
What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia, also referred to as “man boobs” in layman’s terms, is a condition of the male breast. Gynecomastia causes the breasts to swell and become enlarged, looking like fat. Teenage boys and older men are most susceptible to the condition. It is caused by various factors, including an imbalance in hormones, puberty, medications, and other aspects, which we discuss later.
It is often mistaken as fat when there is a lack of knowledge or denial. Sometimes, gynecomastia is disregarded, and there is an assumption that the boy or man has gained weight. It is necessary to learn the causes and symptoms of gynecomastia and how to differentiate it from fat in the chest to get proper help and treatment.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
Several factors can lead to gynecomastia. Fat is typically caused by an unhealthy lifestyle resulting in weight gain. Gynecomastia is more complex. If you want to figure out whether you have gyno or chest fat, learning the causes is your first step to telling the difference. Below is a detailed list of gynecomastia causes:
Estrogen is not an exclusively female hormone; men also produce it in small doses. Men with an imbalance in hormone levels may have excess estrogen, causing gynecomastia. Medications, stress, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, etc., can increase estrogen in males.
Decrease In Testosterone
A reduction of testosterone in men can be a major factor in gyno. Testosterone deficiency can be caused due to aging, medications, stress, an unhealthy lifestyle, testicular injury, and cancer treatments. Testosterone is a critical hormone in the male body that helps develop and maintain masculine characteristics. A reduction can cause problems like gynecomastia.
Puberty is a common cause of gynecomastia in young teenage boys. At that age, only a small amount of breast tissue is present, and the rising levels of estrogen from a hormone change due to puberty and gynecomastia can occur.
Men who are obese tend to have increased levels of estrogen that lead to gynecomastia. This is commonly mistaken as fat because of the enlarged breast tissue with excess fat. While both are possible, getting tested for gyno is something to consider – especially if other symptoms are present.
Side-Effects Of Medications
Several medications, such as certain antibiotics, ulcer drugs, chemotherapy, and growth hormone medicines, lead to gynecomastia. Many medications include estrogen-like properties, increasing the hormone in the male body. Estrogen then causes gynecomastia.
Drugs And Alcohol
Alcohol, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, and drugs like heroin are leading causes of gynecomastia. Overuse and abuse, specifically in adolescence, can result in the condition. Overuse of marijuana is also associated with gynecomastia because of its estrogen-stimulating and testosterone-reducing properties.
Liver And Kidney Disease
Liver and kidney disease can lead to endocrine abnormalities, while associated medications to treat these diseases can lead to hormone changes, weaken the immune system, and cause malnutrition or the inability of the body to absorb nutrients. This results in a drop in testosterone but no changes to estrogen, causing the development of gynecomastia.
What Are The Symptoms Of Gynecomastia?
The best way to know if you have gynecomastia or just chest fat is by noticing the symptoms you may be experiencing. Increased breast tissue is a sign of both factors, so understanding the specific signs of gyno can help you break it down. Learn more about gynecomastia symptoms in the following list:
Enlarged breasts can signify fat, but it is also a symptom of gynecomastia. If you notice that you have suddenly increased breast tissue or your breasts have grown without weight gain in other parts of your body, it is likely gynecomastia.
Discomfort In The Breast Area
Regular fat in the male chest is unlikely to cause discomfort unless it weighs you down due to the weight. Gynecomastia can cause a relative amount of discomfort, pain, and tenderness. It may also feel firm, whereas fat will feel soft like fat on any other part of the body. The lumpiness is also associated with gynecomastia, which is unlikely to happen with normal fatty tissue.
Fatigue is a lightly associated symptom of gynecomastia. An experience of enlarged breasts and fatigue could mean you have underlying conditions like hyperthyroidism. The hormonal imbalances are connected and can be a symptom of both issues. Regular fat tissue is unlikely to cause fatigue unless a highly unhealthy lifestyle is present.
Reduced Libido And Erectile Dysfunction
Gynecomastia is typically a cause of lowered testosterone levels. Testosterone is needed in men for the proper regulation of libido and related functions. Reduced levels of the hormone can lead to lower libido and erectile dysfunction. Noticing these conditions with breast enlargement can indicate gynecomastia. Normal chest fat will not create these problems without additional health issues.
Weight Gain Without A Change In Diet Or Exercise
When there are signs of weight gain without any changes in your diet or fitness routine, the probability that there is an underlying health condition is high. Changes in the body, like extra tissue fat in the chest without lifestyle changes, are likely a symptom of gynecomastia. Enlarged breast that is just fat should occur with weight gain in other body parts.
As breast tissue becomes enlarged, the skin surrounding the breast also stretches. That can cause stretching of the areola. The tissue is soft with regular fat, and areola changes rarely occur. Gynecomastia breasts are firmer, and severe cases can lead to the areola stretching and breast sagging to accommodate the changes.
More severe cases of gynecomastia can cause painful, sensitive nipples with discharge. Regular fat will not do this, and you should consult your doctor immediately if you notice any fluid or bleeding.
Sweating is debatable in regard to gynecomastia. An overweight male with large breasts can experience sweating because of the excess fat and weight in the body. Low testosterone levels are a leading cause of gyno but are also associated with sweats, specifically at night. If you notice your breast tissue swelling with excessive sweating – especially at night – visit the doctor.
Different Types Of Treatments For Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia often goes away after a few months. This is especially evident in young boys. The condition occurs, and as the hormones balance with time and some minor lifestyle changes, they can disappear. Medication can also help, but sometimes a slightly more aggressive or intensive approach is required. Check out the following list of treatments options for gynecomastia:
Traditional gynecomastia surgery will help to flatten your chest and improve the contours. The surgery removes excess and unwanted fat and tissue from the breasts.
Liposuction is a modern technique that can be used to treat gynecomastia. It is less invasive and removes unwanted excess fat in the chest. It is one of the most straightforward surgeries for gynecomastia. Depending on the extent of your condition, it may need excision of the glandular tissue.
Scar Revision Surgery
This treatment may not directly reduce enlarged breasts, but it is a fantastic option post-gynecomastia surgery. If you are conscious about the scars from your surgical procedure, scar revision is a plastic surgery technique that makes scars less visible.
A non-surgical treatment like hormone therapy is a great option to look into for gynecomastia. The condition is generally caused due to a disruption in hormones. Treatments that include balancing hormones like androgens, anti-estrogens like Tamoxifen, and aromatase inhibitors are helpful.
Male supplements with hormone-balancing properties are a great option to avoid gynecomastia and reduce the symptoms. Always look for natural products that might include artificial hormones and ingredients. If you already have gynecomastia, avoid supplements with any sign of estrogen. Speak to your doctor or trusted pharmacist about supplements to support your journey.
Key Differences Between Gynecomastia And Chest Fat
The primary difference between gynecomastia and chest fat is your first indication of whether you may have the condition and need help or medical treatment.
|Firmer, rubbery tissue||Soft tissue|
|It can appear as a lump||No lump, only fat tissue|
|Discharge in severe cases||No discharge|
|Primarily during puberty and in older men 50+||Fat can occur anytime with weight gain|
|Enlargement of breasts independently||Fat gain in other parts of the body|
|Discomfort, pain, and sensitivity||No pain or sensitivity|
|May need medical treatment||No need for medical treatment|
Gynecomastia Clinics And Specialists In The US
Austin Gynecomastia Center +1 512 732 0732
LA Gynecomastia +1 323 488 4419
Sean Doherty, MD, Boston +1 617 935 0801
Richard Swift MD, NYC +1 212 828 9906
Cruise Plastic Surgery, CA +1 949 644 4808