Gynecomastia: What It Is, What Causes It, And How to Fix It

Posted by Dr. Patrick Proffer on October 22, 2019

It’s a problem you’d prefer not to talk about: the excess fat on your chest. Whether you’re in the pool, at the beach, or in the bedroom, you don’t want to take your shirt off for fear of judgment.

You may be a completely healthy man. You may be diligent about your exercise, you watch what you eat, you don’t smoke, and you’re at a normal weight for your height. Yet every time you look in the mirror you see masses of fat tissue on your chest that just won’t go away no matter what you do.


Despite what you may think, you’re not alone: nearly 60% of men over the age of 44 suffer from a condition known as gynecomastia. In simple terms, gynecomastia refers to the enlargement of male breasts. It’s characterized by excess localized fat, skin, and various tissue in the chest area.

So what exactly causes gynecomastia, what are the symptoms, and how can you treat it?

Below, we’ll answer all of your burning questions about this often-ignored and misunderstood condition.

Common Causes Of Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia can be embarrassing, and most men think they are the only ones who suffer from excess chest fat. They rarely even know the name for their condition or what it means.

But if you have these problems, it’s not your fault. Gynecomastia develops at any time, though it often occurs in men and young boys who are otherwise healthy and at a normal weight. The most common symptoms other than the physical appearance is tender, swollen, or painful breaths.

Gynecomastia is caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Malnutrition
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Street drugs (marijuana, heroin, amphetamines, etc.)
  • Anabolic steroids

Some studies even suggest that using certain essential oils topically can increase your risk for the condition. This is especially the case for lavender and tea tree oil, which activate estrogenic and antiandrogenic hormones.

It’s important to make a distinction here between gynecomastia, which refers to the enlargement of the glandular tissue in the male breast, and lipomastia, which is the presence of fat deposits in the breast area of obese men. Because lipomastia has different causes and symptoms, it needs to be treated differently.

Drugs That Cause Gynecomastia

Because many men don’t even know about this condition, let alone its name and causes, they don’t know about the solutions available. First on your list of solutions should be to assess the medicines you’re taking to see if they are a high risk of causing gynecomastia.

Certain medications can lead to gynecomastia by decreasing your testosterone production, either by causing direct testicular damage, by blocking testosterone synthesis, or by blocking the androgen action. In other words, these drugs create hormonal imbalances.

The types of drugs to look out for include:

  • Cardiac and antihypertensive medications, like alpha-blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and nitrates
  • Psychoactive drugs, including some antidepressants, antipsychotic agents, and drugs for infectious diseases
  • Certain recreational or abuse drugs such as marijuana, heroin, and amphetamines

You can read a comprehensive list of medications and chemicals that have been linked to gynecomastia on this article, about halfway through the page.

Permanently Treat Gynecomastia With Breast Reduction Surgery

You’ve been working out like mad, watching your diet like a hawk, and you’ve taken control of your alcohol intake. But no matter what you do, you can’t seem to reduce the size of your breasts.

It may be time for surgical intervention.

Liposuction, which flattens your chest contours and enhances your chest cosmetically, is the most effective way to surgically reduce your breast size. It corrects your breasts to create a more natural looking chest. 

Sometimes, the excess weight that is common in severe gynecomastia may cause your areolas to sag and stretch. In that case, a skilled surgeon can fix the size, shape, and position of your areolas to fit your newly contoured chest.

Liposuction–especially SAFELipo, a softer and smoother process than traditional liposuction–is gentle on your body, meaning it’s perfect for people with an active lifestyle who can’t afford any lengthy downtime.

Is Gynecomastia Surgery Right For You?

Not everyone is a good candidate for gynecomastia surgery. You have to have a normal body weight and your breast development must have stabilized. That said, it’s perfect for the man who has already done everything in his power to reduce the fatty tissue around his chest, but still sees no significant progress and no way out from the embarrassment.

If you want to improve your appearance, boost your self-confidence, and stop feeling insecure about your chest, then you are a great candidate for surgery.       
Athletic middle aged man with shirt off

Don’t suffer the effects of gynecomastia any longer. At Proffer Surgical Associates, we understand how painful and embarrassing it is to have gynecomastia. No matter your age or lifestyle, you deserve to feel good about yourself and confident in your skin.

Schedule a consultation, and we’ll discuss your specific situation, your body goals, and the best options for you going forward.


Topics: Liposuction, Gynecomastia