Gynecomastia is a condition of over-developed or enlarged breasts in men that can occur at any age. The condition can be the result of hormonal changes, heredity, obesity, or the use of certain drugs.
Gynecomastia can cause emotional discomfort and impair your self-confidence. Some men may even avoid certain physical activities and intimacy simply to hide their condition.
Gynecomastia is characterized by:
- Excess localized fat
- Excess glandular tissue development
- Sometimes excess breast skin
- Presence unilaterally (one breast) or bilaterally (both breasts)
About half of all men today have excess localized fat and/or excess glandular tissue in one or both breasts. Gynecomastia accounts for more than 65 percent of all male breast disorders, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Surgery with or without liposuction may be used to treat enlarged male breasts.
While often not a serious medical problem, enlarged breasts in men can be painful. It can also cause embarrassment — especially among young boys who may be teased as a result of their breasts. The condition is especially common in teen boys. Up to 65 percent of 14-year-old boys have enlarged breasts, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. This is largely due to the fluctuations in sex hormones that occur during puberty. The excess breast tissue disappears without treatment in two years in 75 percent of these boys, and within three years in 90 percent of them.
Enlargement typically occurs on both sides of the chest, but if it is one-sided, firm and hard, see a doctor immediately to rule out male breast cancer.