What is Gynecomastia (Enlarged Breasts in Men)?

A number of affected men find breast enlargement (gynecomastia) extremely embarrassing and uncomfortable. In everyday life, these breast augmentations are also derogatorily referred to as man boobs. For this reason, most men consider surgery. During this procedure, glandular and/or fatty tissue is removed, resulting in a flatter, firmer and therefore masculine breast.

What is gynecomastia?

Not only women have a special problem with the image of their breasts. Some men also suffer from the fact that their breast areas are constantly growing and thus becoming more and more similar to the female breast. This growth is considered a clinical picture and is known as gynecomastia.

This means an enlargement of the male breast, which is caused by the proliferation of tissue. There are two different types of this condition. On the one hand the real and on the other hand the false gynecomastia.

According to abbreviationfinder.org, the cause of the so-called false gynecomastia is overweight. This is where fat deposits within the male breast give the appearance of this significant swelling. The so-called true gynecomastia is also based on a hormonal disease.


According to statistics, at least forty percent of men are affected by gynecomastia. The reason for this, that there is an atypical enlargement, can usually not be clearly clarified.

It can be due to glandular diseases or altered liver functions, but also to the intake of anabolic steroids (medicines containing estrogen), drug or alcohol consumption or, in rare cases, a tumor that causes a masculine breast to become feminine, i.e. to gynecomastia.

Some men have an increased proportion of female hormones ( oestrogens ), which are responsible for the unpleasant growth of male breasts. The trigger for this can be, for example, a hypothalamic disease. The estrogen excess in gynecomastia can also be partly due to the fact that the respective man’s body produces too few male hormones.

However, some men also influence the body’s hormone balance themselves. For example, while taking some anabolic steroids, the testosterone supplied can be largely converted into estrogen by the body.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The main symptom of gynecomastia is breast enlargement in men. This breast augmentation can be both physiological and pathological. A physiological gynecomastia such as puberty, newborn, old age and pseudogynecomastia has no disease value. Here, however, psychological abnormalities can develop from a feeling of shame in those affected.

This sometimes leads to withdrawal from society, social isolation or even depression. Other symptoms do not appear. The affected person often needs psychotherapeutic care up to and including cosmetic surgery in order to be able to build up self-confidence again. Sometimes gynecomastia is also caused by a disease.

Other physical symptoms can then occur, which on the one hand affect the gynecomastia itself and on the other hand are triggered by the underlying disease. With pronounced gynecomastia, there is sometimes a feeling of pressure or even pain in the chest. The nipples can be hypersensitive. Skin irritation is possible in the breast fold, leading to severe pain.

A particularly uncomfortable feeling is often caused by the movement of the breast tissue. During physical activity, these tissue movements can even cause severe pain, which can be avoided by wearing a compression shirt or sports bra. In the case of pathological gynecomastia, one-sided breast growth can also occur in some cases. In addition to hereditary hormone disorders, serious causes such as cancer or drug abuse sometimes lead to gynecomastia.

Diagnosis & History

If gynecomastia is to be eliminated, an initial consultation is held with a specialist ( urologist ) for intensive consultation. During this examination, for example, the hormone balance is checked and other causes are researched in order to be able to make a clear diagnosis.

The various triggers that may come into consideration are also included. Which further measures are to be used to treat gynecomastia is decided by the doctor based on the diagnosis. In very rare cases, surgery is performed. Only in the case of extremely strong tissue proliferation, which also continues to progress, can a breast operation as a last resort restore the normal condition.

The excess breast tissue is removed by liposuction. However, this does not treat the cause of gynecomastia, but only changes the current condition. So, even after the surgical intervention, further effective treatment must take place. This can reduce gynecomastia, for example, by changing your diet or hormonal balance.


Male mammary gland enlargement usually does not lead to any health complications or symptoms. However, these can occur if the enlargement occurs due to obesity or another disease. In most cases, however, there are psychological problems. Most men feel uncomfortable and not beautiful with the enlarged breasts.

This leads to the development of inferiority complexes and a greatly reduced sense of self-esteem. It is not uncommon for patients to withdraw from social life, leading to depression and other psychological upsets. The psychological complaints are usually treated by a psychologist, with no particular complications occurring.

The treatment of mammary gland enlargement in men is always causal. In the case of obesity, the sufferer must switch to a healthy lifestyle to avoid further growth. In the further course, the enlarged breasts can be surgically reduced. In many cases, medication can lead to enlargement of the mammary glands in men and must therefore be discontinued or replaced with other medication after consultation with a doctor.

Male mammary gland enlargement itself does not lead to a reduced life expectancy. However, the underlying disease can be serious and must be examined in any case.

When should you go to the doctor?

Gynecomastia treatment is always useful. This prevents further complications and complaints and also strengthens the man’s attitude to life again. However, the treatment is not medically necessary in every case, so that a clarifying discussion with a doctor should take place first. A doctor should usually be consulted if the man’s mammary glands or breasts in general are noticeably enlarged. A feeling of tension in the breasts can also indicate gynecomastia and should be examined by a doctor.

The breasts themselves are sensitive to touch, so that the nipples can also hurt when touched. If these symptoms occur for no particular reason, it is advisable to seek treatment from a doctor. Since gynecomastia can also lead to depression or other mental disorders, a psychologist should be consulted. The initial examination and diagnosis can be carried out by a general practitioner. The surgical procedure is usually carried out in a hospital and leads to a positive course of the disease.

Treatment & Therapy

If gynecomastia is mainly due to enlarged or increased breast tissue, this can be removed by means of an operation so that the male breast can be modeled flatter. In this treatment, one or more incisions are made in the areola (in the case of an increased amount, extensive incisions are also made), so that excess glandular tissue can be removed directly.

The common method “Ultrasound-Assisted Aspiration Lipectomy” (UAL) is usually used here. In this procedure, an innovative cannula emits special ultrasonic energy to the fatty tissue, which “bursts” the superfluous tissue, so to speak, and then liquefies it. After the operation, swelling and numbness are noticeable, as well as some bruises in the chest area.

Such symptoms are usually gone within a maximum of three weeks. As a rule, an elastic compression bandage is applied after the procedure, which actively supports the reduction of swelling and wound healing. The majority of those affected are enthusiastic about the result of the procedure, since the cause for which the unmanly breast is responsible has been eliminated. Unfortunately, there is no medical intention for a gynecomastia operation, so it is considered a purely cosmetic operation .

Outlook & Forecast

Gynecomastia usually begins in early puberty and does not go away on its own over the course of life. Once the mammary glands are enlarged, they remain that size unless treated with medication or surgery.

Real gynecomastia must be distinguished from false gynecomastia, which is caused by obesity and fat deposits in the chest area. False gynecomastia can regress by reducing body weight – if you lose weight correctly, even without hanging skin flaps. True gynecomastia, on the other hand, only gets better with medical treatment. In addition, the breasts with real gynecomastia are usually much larger than with the wrong shape.

If gynecomastia does not occur during puberty, it can also start in old age when the proportion of male hormones decreases. While this process is entirely natural, it also causes the levels of female hormones to increase, which can cause an aging man’s mammary glands to enlarge. However, gynecomastia is often not as obvious as when it begins in young men during puberty.

Hormone therapy and surgical reduction of the breast in the case of very large enlargements can help. While the surgical method brings quick success, hormone treatment alone takes longer, but ensures the long-term success of the treatment.


Hormone-related gynecomastia can only be prevented to a limited extent. Men should definitely refrain from using anabolic steroids and other growth hormones for their sport or bodybuilding. Gynecomastia, which is caused by obesity, can be prevented with plenty of exercise, endurance sports and a healthy diet.


Aftercare options are severely limited in male mammary gland enlargement. The first priority is the correct treatment of this disease and usually also the diagnosis of the underlying disease in order to prevent further complications and symptoms. Of course, the trigger of the mammary gland enlargement in men should be found and avoided so that the disease can be completely resolved.

The treatment of mammary gland enlargement in men is usually carried out with the help of a surgical procedure. This usually takes place without any particular complications and is also successful. As a result, the symptoms can usually be completely alleviated and limited. After the procedure, the affected person must remain in bed and rest in any case.

The chest region should then be supported and should not be subjected to any unnecessary strain. In general, strenuous or stressful activities should be avoided. Since mammary gland enlargement in men can also lead to psychological upsets or even depression, psychological treatment is also necessary in some cases. Discussions with family or friends can also have a positive effect on the course of the disease. The life expectancy of the patient is not limited by the mammary gland enlargement in men.

You can do that yourself

Gynecomastia severely restricts those affected in everyday life; Swimming, sauna, tight clothing are avoided out of shame. In addition to drug or surgical therapy, there is often little self-help.

However, it is possible to reduce visibility through clothing, such as wearing wide tops. Polo shirts or shirts worn open over a t-shirt are distracting, especially if they are different colors or patterns. Avoid shirts with flashy prints. But also shaping or so-called compression shirts make the body look tighter and more upright. The orthopedic chest strap or a good sports bra prevents the movement of the grown tissue, so the chest appears flatter and firmer.

A change in diet, endurance sports and targeted training of the chest muscles provide relief and minimize fatty tissue, but they take time. Rowing and swimming are the most effective. But also push-ups or archery ensure a conversion of fatty tissue into muscles.

The consumption of beer must be completely avoided; not only because of the alcohol and the resulting increased calorie intake, but rather because of the phytoestrogens contained in hops. Dealing openly with gynecomastia and talking about it ensures understanding and supports the mental state.

Gynecomastia (Enlarged Breasts in Men)