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What Are the Main Gynecomastia Causes?

By Dr. Charles J. Galanis

What Are the Main Gynecomastia Causes

Gynecomastia is the most common breast disorder among males. The condition, characterized by enlarged breast tissue in men, can cause emotional discomfort and sometimes even physical breast pain. But what are the gynecomastia causes?

At Galanis Plastic Surgery, we understand the difficulty and frustration that go along with developing gynecomastia. With gynecomastia surgery at our practice, we can help you regain your confidence and comfort so that you are no longer held back by this condition.

We also aim to provide useful information for patients who are just beginning to explore gynecomastia and available treatment options. Below, we’ve outlined the most common causes of gynecomastia, as well as some basic treatment options that are available to most men.

What Causes Gynecomastia in Men?

Causes of gynecomastia are typically diagnosed by a medical professional. However, based on the knowledge you have of your own current health, medical history, and lifestyle, you may also be able to determine the cause of your gynecomastia on your own.

Puberty and Natural Hormonal Changes

Often, gynecomastia is brought on by puberty as hormonal changes cause temporary breast tissue enlargement in boys who are aging into adulthood. This extra adipose tissue and skin will normally tighten up and resolve on its own within a few months to a year or so.

Every individual is different. But in most cases, prepubertal gynecomastia and pubertal gynecomastia do not require any sort of treatment.

Incidentally, males at other transitional times in life may also develop a perfectly natural form of gynecomastia. Male babies, when they are newly born, sometimes have a slight case of gynecomastia, for example.

This is typically caused by various hormones given to them by their mothers (human chorionic gonadotropin, estrogen, etc.) in the womb. Again, this will resolve naturally in that vast majority of situations.

Adult Onset Hormonal ImbalancesCauses of Gynecomastia in Males

Adult men who develop idiopathic gynecomastia may consider looking into hormonal fluctuations and specifically, their balance of estrogen and free testosterone (which could be caused by androgen receptors, progesterone receptors, and/or luteinizing hormone with secondary hypogonadism).

These are the primary sex hormones in males, and if they are imbalanced, they may lead to gynecomastia.

Substance Use and Medications

Drug induced gynecomastia can be attributed to both illicit drugs (such as heroin, marijuana, and amphetamines) and certain medications for patients (such as those that prostate cancer patients take and certain antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, and anabolic steroids) can contribute to gynecomastia.

Even excess alcohol use has been linked to gynecomastia.

Health Conditions

Quite commonly, excess breast development in males is linked to an illness or disease. Renal cell carcinoma, prostate cancer, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, liver disease, cancer of the pituitary gland, sertoli cell tumors, and other conditions may cause gynecomastia. Likewise, testicular tumors, adrenal tumors in the adrenal glands, and other types of tumors have been linked.

Indeed, a large number of medical conditions have been associated with gynecomastia. You can find details about many of them in The New England Journal of Medicine (N Engl J Med) and similar publications.

Weight Gain and Obesity

Excess body fat can lead to increased estrogen production, which may contribute to the development of gynecomastia. Body fat in general has a habit of accumulating around the chest in many men.

Genetics and Aging

As men age, their testosterone levels may decrease, and especially if the man does not exercise and care for himself, this may sometimes lead to the development of gynecomastia.

How Can Gynecomastia Be Treated?

Gynecomastia treatment depends on various factors, including the underlying cause, the severity of breast enlargement, and individual preferences. Here are several approaches to treating gynecomastia.


In cases where gynecomastia is mild and doesn’t cause a lot of distress or discomfort for the patient, sometimes waiting can be beneficial. This is especially true if the patient is young and going through puberty.

Lifestyle Changes

Making lifestyle changes, such as losing body fat or doing more strength training, can often improve or completely get rid of gynecomastia.

Medication That Causes GynecomastiaTreatment of Underlying Condition

If gynecomastia is secondary to an underlying medical condition, addressing the condition itself (under the guidance of a doctor) can usually help with symptoms.

Likewise, if the issue is related to a tumor, removal of the tumor can help. Removing a testicular tumor, for instance, can often alleviate gynecomastia-related problems.

If it is a medication that causes gynecomastia, ceasing or changing the medication is typically useful. Again, this must be done under the guidance of a medical professional.

Gynecomastia Surgery

Lastly, sometimes gynecomastia surgery is necessary for adequate treatment of this condition. This surgery usually involves removal of fat via liposuction and/or removal of male breast tissue via one or more incisions on each affected breast. Sometimes, excess skin must also be excised. We will adjust the procedure to meet your needs.

FAQ: Causes of Gynecomastia

What is the most common cause of gynecomastia?

Hormonal changes are the most common cause of gynecomastia. Estrogen excess and/or low testosterone secretion are typically occurring when gynecomastia presents.

Can gynecomastia go away?

Yes, often pubertal gynecomastia goes away on its own. However, there can also be persistent pubertal gynecomastia, which means the excess breast tissue sticks around for longer than the patient is in puberty. In this case, surgical treatment may be required to treat gynecomastia.

What causes gynecomastia naturally?

Natural causes of gynecomastia in males typically revolve around hormone shifts. It is usually the imbalance of estrogen (a female hormone) and/or testosterone (a male hormone) that can develop gynecomastia.

Does gynecomastia surgery leave scars?

With skilled surgeons, scars from gynecomastia surgery are often minimal and discreet. Incisions, typically around nipples, vary based on tissue removal extent and liposuction need.

How do I know if I have gynecomastia or a breast cancer tumor?

Gynecomastia is not the same as a male breast cancer tumor. If a gynecomastia patient has a mass beneath their nipple in one or both breasts, this is glandular breast tissue. There has been no confirmed link between gynecomastia and breast cancer.

How long is recovery for gynecomastia surgery?

Gynecomastia surgery recovery is roughly a 4–6 week period. Initial soreness lasts a few days, easing within a week. Expect temporary bruising and swelling.

Contact Us Today to Book a Consultation

If you have excess tissue around your breasts that has been causing you physical and emotional discomfort, you owe it to yourself to look into treatment. Naturally, addressing any underlying conditions should be first on your list.

But if no condition is found or you know that nothing else can teat your gynecomastia, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Charles Galanis can perform male breast reduction surgery to remove your excess glandular tissue, fat, and skin — giving you back your sleek masculine chest contours.

Call today to book a consultation appointment with Dr. Galanis.



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