What Causes Man Boobs
Written By Joe Gryskiewicz, MD, FACS
Did you know that man boobs are a condition that 30 to 70% of men will go through at some point in their lives? According to data sourced from an article by Frontiers, in the United States, statistics indicate that 36% of the total number of young adult men and 57% of older adults are susceptible to this condition at various levels of severity. Hence, it can be inferred that one out of every three adult men and one out of every two older men may be affected by this condition.
Despite the fact that man boobs are not a serious issue, living with the ailment can be challenging. This condition can cause boys and men to feel self-conscious and cause breast pain.
Dr. Joe is one of the most talented and experienced plastic surgeons in Minnesota. He can help you get rid of man boobs with the help of plastic surgery.
What are Man Boobs?
Man boobs, also known as Gynecomastia, is a widespread condition that causes younger males and men’s boobs to enlarge and swell beyond their normal size. Teen boys and older men are the most frequently affected by this condition.
Gynecomastia is a condition in which the breast tissue of males gets expanded beyond normal limits and feels mushy and firm around and underneath the nipples, and then it may spread all over your chest. Although it typically affects both sides of your body, on rare occasions, it just affects one. You may experience pain or feel delicate around the developing tissue when touched.
Signs of Gynecomastia
The following are some of the signs that show you have gynecomastia:
- You most likely have gynecomastia if you experience minor to severe chest discomfort and pain. You might experience chest pain, swelling, and persistent soreness.
- When the swelling around your chest region feels hard and perhaps rubbery, it is a sign that you have gynecomastia. You might even detect a solid lump beneath the skin around your nipples.
- Males with this condition usually have boobs that resemble a woman’s. Their boobs typically have a rounder and more proportionate shape.
- The breasts feeling sensitive and tender when rubbed against your cloth is another sign that you might have gynecomastia.
Causes of Man Boobs (Gynecomastia)
Gynecomastia is typically brought on by an uneven distribution of androgen and estrogen hormones. Estrogen, a hormone responsible for controlling breast growth, is typically only produced in small amounts by male bodies. Your breasts might sometimes enlarge when your body releases excessive estrogen, or you are low in testosterone.
Numerous health issues can induce gynecomastia by altering the balance of hormonal. These consist of the following:
- Hypogonadism: this disorder decreases testosterone production, leading to conditions like pituitary insufficiency or Klinefelter syndrome.
- Aging: hormonal changes that come with getting older, particularly in overweight men, can lead to gynecomastia.
- Tumors: certain tumors, like those affecting the testicles, adrenals, and pituitary glands, could release hormones that change the balance of male and female hormones.
- Hyperthyroidism: the thyroid gland overproduces the hormone called thyroxine in this condition.
- Renal failure: gynecomastia is a side effect of dialysis that affects about 50% of patients because of hormonal abnormalities.
- Hunger and poor nutrition: a hormonal imbalance results from your body not receiving enough nutrition because its testosterone and estrogen levels are out of balance.
In some cases, due to extra fatty tissue present in the body, obese people experience enlargement of the breasts. Pseudo-gynecomastia is the medical term for this issue. Being overweight increases one’s risk of having excess fat, which can cause your breast tissue to bulge. Trying to lose weight by exercising more may be helpful for some people.
Gynecomastia may result from a number of other factors, such as:
- Family’s medical history;
- Inadequate sex hormones;
- Genetic factors;
- Alcohol abuse;
- Side effects of medications, such as those used to treat cardiovascular diseases (digoxin) or ulcers (Tagamet HB). Drugs such as finasteride, Glutamine, and Spironolactone used to treat prostate cancer can cause man boobs;
- Consumption of illicit substances, such as marijuana or steroids;
- Disorders of the spinal cord;
- Men with breast cancer or other forms and have undergone chemotherapy;
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus drugs such as Efavirenz might result in gynecomastia.
Who Can Be Affected by Gynecomastia?
Men, in all their developmental stages, can be affected by gynecomastia.
- Gynecomastia in new-born male babies
Because estrogen is transferred from the pregnant woman to the fetus via the placenta, gynecomastia might affect newborn male babies. Since it is a temporary condition, it will cease after the baby’s birth.
- Gynecomastia in adolescent boys
The hormone levels of boys change during puberty. Estrogen can increase breast tissue growth if testosterone levels fall. Many young boys have enlarged breasts to some extent. As boys mature and hormone levels stabilize, gynecomastia that develops throughout puberty typically disappears.
- Gynecomastia in aged men
Men produce less testosterone when they age. In addition to having extra body fat, older men often have higher levels of estrogen production. Increased breast tissue growth may result from these hormone levels changing.
How to Get Rid of Man Boobs
Adopting a healthy diet
Making dietary changes may assist in reducing the appearance of swollen boobs when extra fat deposits in the chest area are the cause. A balanced diet with an emphasis on whole foods and nutrients should be the goal for everyone. Males who want an improvement in their diets can try the following:
- Lower their sodium consumption;
- Avoid eating sugar-sweetened and processed foods;
- Regularly take more fruits and vegetables;
- It is recommended you eat whole grains instead of pasta and white bread;
- Consume lean proteins, which can be found in foods like fish and beans;
- Take more low-fat dairy products.
It should be noted that before any significant dietary changes are made, people should always consult a physician or nutritionist. This is essential for those that have diabetes or some other severe medical condition.
Exercise and the use of specific lifting techniques, and a better diet may help reduce the look of enlarged boobs in men. Exercise, especially cardiovascular ones, can aid in the reduction of body fat. Body parts like the chest can develop muscle with targeted lifting regimens.
Even though numerous programs offer quick weight loss, people who want to lose weight and keep it off should generally adopt long-term methods. You can try some of these cardio exercises consistently:
- Taking a walk;
- Sprinting or jogging;
- Bicycle riding/ cycling;
Those who want to get rid of man boobs may want to incorporate chest exercises into their program in addition to cardiovascular activities that can generally aid with weight loss. Exercises for the chest usually concentrate mostly on the chest muscles. Pectoral or chest muscles that are stronger may lessen swollen boobs. Here are some examples of chest workouts to try:
- Push-up: this is an easy and efficient weight loss exercise that can improve the upper body as well as core strength. Your triceps and chest pectoral muscles are worked during this exercise. Pushups do not require any special gear, to begin with. You can start your push-up journey by doing the following: start by lying face down on the floor with your stomach and chest up. Your arms and palms should be at chest level with a 45-degree bend. Your legs need to be flat and straight behind you. Breathe while pushing off the ground with your hands and feet soles to lift your chest, thighs, and torso from the ground. Make your core engaged by taking a brief pause when doing the plank position. Take a deep breath as you carefully lower yourself to your starting stance.
- Bench press: Strengthening the upper muscles in the body, such as the arms, pectorals, and shoulders, can be accomplished by performing a bench press workout. You should do the following steps for a barbell or dumbbell press: place your barbell on the rack, then arrange yourself to hold the bar with a firm grip. As you raise the bar, hold it upright in front of you. As you slowly lower the bar to mid-chest, take in deep breaths. Exhale as you go back to your initial position and do as many sets as required. It should be twice as long to lower the bar as to raise it. Put the bar back on the rack after your set is finished.
- Chest fly: the dumbbell chest fly can help make your chest muscles more flexible. This exercise can assist in lessening upper back discomfort, reducing man boobs, enhancing motion range, and easing upper body stiffness. For the dumbbell chest fly exercise, you need a flat bench and a pair of dumbbells. After getting the required equipment, follow these steps: on a level, inclined bench, and lie down on your back. Plant your feet on the ground on each side of the flat bench. Your back and head must be firmly positioned on the bench throughout the workout. Raise your arms so that they are stretched above your head. Your dumbbell presses, and your hands should be facing each other. Take a deep breath and slowly drop the dumbbells in an arc motion until they are on the same level as your chest. Although your arms will not be locked, they will be out to the sides. Avoid lowering your arms below your shoulders. Taking a deep breath out, steadily lift the dumbbells in an arc motion. Do 10 to 15 repetitions, and do not forget to rest at intervals. You can do a total of 3 sets.
It is important you talk to a personal gym trainer and perhaps a fitness expert concerning routines that suit your needs and capabilities. This is a good idea for anyone considering registering for specific programs to improve their chest muscles.
Asides from adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle and engaging in frequent exercises and chest workouts, one fast, efficient and lasting solution to gynecomastia is gynecomastia surgery.
Gynecomastia surgery: an efficient and lasting solution to man boobs
Gynecomastia surgery is usually recommended to men who have had gynecomastia for a very long time, and the condition has not reduced.
Make sure you understand why you desire gynecomastia surgery before proceeding. Talk to your doctor about it, and give yourself some time to consider your options. You should also be ready to cover the cost of the male breast surgery, plus the cost accrued due to consultations and post-recovery care.
You should be cautious when looking for surgeons and facilities that offer breast reduction on the internet. There should be solid proof that the surgeon has carried out successful breast reduction surgeries in the past. You should also look for patients’ ratings on the surgeon and their clinic.
After carrying out due diligence, you can go ahead and register for your gynecomastia surgery. The procedure lasts approximately 1.5 hours. In most cases, patients are required to spend the night in the hospital.
Recovery after Gynecomastia Surgery
Following breast reduction surgery, recovery can take up to two weeks. You will need to take some time off from work to recover after the intervention.
You may suffer from swollen, tender, and bruised breasts for a couple of weeks. It is required that you wear a compression garment with elasticized bands every single day for one or two weeks after the surgery. As your chest heals, this supports it. The time the dressings must be left on depends on how rapidly your wounds heal.
For around three weeks following surgery, refrain from stretching, vigorous exercise, and heavy lifting. It will take roughly six weeks before you can perform all your typical activities again.
FAQs about Man Boobs and Gynecomastia Surgery
How can I get rid of man boobs without surgery?
Depending on the causes of gynecomastia, you can try different approaches such as a diet and exercises before getting male breast reduction surgery. However, keep in mind that only pseudo-gynecomastia can be somehow treated by reducing the adipose tissue.
What happens during gynecomastia surgery?
When gynecomastia is performed, Dr. Joe will make incisions to allow him access to the glandular tissue. The excess of skin, fat and glandular tissue is eliminated and the incisions are sutured.
How is the recovery after man boob reduction surgery?
The recovery period after gynecomastia surgery is not overly complicated. You should avoid strenuous exercises and to put pressure on the incisions. The swelling and bruising subside within weeks after the surgery and a full recovery is to be expected in a few months’ time.
Further Reading about Men Procedures
- Dr. Joe’s page about Gynecomastia
- Dr. Joe’s page about Liposuction
- Dr. Joe’s page about Abdominoplasty