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March 21, 2024

What to Know About Gynecomastia in Adults

Written by: Dr. Dahlia Rice. Posted in: Blog

Gynecomastia in Adults

Gynecomastia in adults is most common among men who are middle aged and older. Up to 65% of this demographic is affected by gynecomastia.

With that said, there is a solution to gynecomastia. As long as any underlying conditions or causes are taken care of, gynecomastia surgery is highly effective at treating this common condition.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about gynecomastia and gynecomastia surgery for male adults.

What Is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a breast disorder that leads to enlargement of the male breasts. This often means that a male who is in good shape otherwise may have what are sometimes called “breast buds” — or a chest that resembles female breast tissue — instead of a flatter, more masculine chest.

Gynecomastia Symptoms

Gynecomastia symptoms in adults vary depending on the cause.

The tissues of the breast may be enlarged and puffy, and sometimes, the nipples and surrounding areolae are puffy and swollen as well. Often, there will be excess fatty tissue and skin on the breasts. And finally, there are sometimes small, hard, disc-like masses located directly beneath one or both breasts.

Plastic surgeons and doctors during breast examination will frequently perform the “pinch test” to look for these hard bits of glandular tissue. This simply entails palpating the area with their fingers.Gynecomastia Symptoms in Adults

What Causes Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia occurs for several reasons.  Here is a rundown on the most common gynecomastia causes.

Most notably, patients will develop gynecomastia because of hormonal shifts. These hormonal shifts and imbalances typically affect luteinizing hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin, follicle stimulating hormone, etc.

Young men who are going through puberty or about to go through puberty will encounter swollen breast tissue or develop enlarged breasts quite frequently. This is called pubertal gynecomastia.

Fortunately, in this stage of life, the gynecomastia that occurs is usually short-lived, and it will go away on its own. Even newborn baby boys can have enlarged or palpable breast tissue due to the estrogen in their bodies from their mothers. This should also go away on its own.

Adult gynecomastia, however, may be caused by an underlying medical condition — for example, adrenal tumors, testicular tumors, pituitary gland tumors, chronic liver disease, renal failure, apparent primary testicular failure, primary or secondary hypogonadism, klinefelter syndrome, or drug induced gynecomastia.

Some patients may have prostate cancer or even breast cancer or another illness that is associated with gynecomastia (though male breast cancer is rare). Use of recreational drugs or prescription medications (anabolic steroids or calcium channel blockers, for example) can also cause gynecomastia in males if they decrease testosterone production.

Not uncommonly, gynecomastia is actually caused by the patient having overall more body fat. So, for example, a patient may gain weight overall, and because of genetics, they may simply tend to gain more weight in the chest area.

Certain male patients who have lost a significant amount of weight may actually have excess skin on their chest as well. This may or may not be combined with excess fat and/or excess glandular tissue.

And finally, sometimes, unfortunately, no underlying reason for this issue can be found (idiopathic gynecomastia).

Can Gynecomastia Be Treated?

Yes, all of the reasons for developing gynecomastia that are listed above can be treated with gynecomastia surgery. However, it’s important to note that if you have adult onset gynecomastia and you don’t know why, you should speak with your doctor before doing anything else.

You want to make sure that you rule out any underlying medical conditions or medications that may be causing breast enlargement before turning to a treatment.

Once treatment has been rendered, however, and breast growth has stopped, most patients can still get gynecomastia surgery. Prostate cancer patients who are in remission after prostate cancer treatment, for instance, can typically undergo surgery quite safely.

Remember that most cases of pubertal gynecomastia will resolve on their own. However, if a patient has persistent pubertal gynecomastia into adulthood, this can also be treated with gynecomastia surgery.

Gynecomastia Surgery

Gynecomastia surgery removes excess tissue, skin, and/or fat from the male breasts to improve the patient’s comfort and appearance.

Why Seek Gynecomastia Surgery?

Gynecomastia isn’t inherently dangerous. If having enlarged breasts doesn’t really bother you, then there’s no medical reason to treat it unless you have an underlying condition that needs to be treated.

However, many men who have enlarged breast tissue are unhappy with the condition. It can be a source of embarrassment and cause a drop in self-confidence. Sometimes, patients even experience breast pain. For these reasons, many men choose to treat gynecomastia with surgery.

How Long Does Gynecomastia Last In AdultsFAQ: Gynecomastia

Does gynecomastia go away in adults?

Not always, but sometimes. Often, the cause of the gynecomastia is a medical condition or use of a certain drug. In these cases, for the gynecomastia to go away on its own, the related condition would need to be treated or the drug use ceased.

How much is gynecomastia?

Please schedule a consultation appointment to learn more about gynecomastia cost.

Does gynecomastia surgery leave scars?

Yes, if any skin or breast tissue excision takes place, you will have gynecomastia surgery scars. Look up gynecomastia before and after photos to see images of common scar placements.

Your surgeon will do their best to hide incisions well, and the scars will also fade and flatten following gynecomastia recovery.

How long does gynecomastia last in adults?

This depends on what’s causing the enlarged male breast tissue. If the underlying issue is treated and/or stopped, the gynecomastia may resolve on its own. Adult men who go through a hormone shift may also notice their gynecomastia resolves naturally.

However, many adult men who have this issue will not see improvements until they treat the underlying cause and/or undergo gynecomastia surgery.

One exception is weight loss. If the patient has gynecomastia due to being overweight or obese, sometimes diet and exercise or weight loss surgery can correct (or at least improve) the issue.

Call to Book a Consultation With Dr. Rice

Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Dahlia Rice performs gynecomastia surgery for adult males in the Chicago area. To learn more about this surgery and whether you are a good candidate for the procedure, please book a consultation appointment with Dr. Rice today.


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