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What is Gynecomastia?

“What is Gynecomastia?” is one of the most common questions Dr. Cruise hears from prospective patients.

By definition, Gynecomastia (Gyne-e-co-mas-ti-a) is the excess development of benign breast tissue in boys or men largely due to hormonal imbalances. It can affect one or both breasts. True gynecomastia does not go away on it’s own.

Until recently, gynecomastia was not a condition that received much attention in the plastic surgery community. It was also a hidden topic among men who were suffering with this problem. Many were not even aware their condition was classified as gynecomastia or that there were permanent options to correct it.

Over the past several years, gynecomastia has gained more attention and now there are a small number of plastic surgeons across the globe who have become specialists in the treatment of enlarged male breasts. As more and more patients open up about having gynecomastia, surgeons are realizing just how many men are out there who can benefit from advances in gynecomastia surgery. Plastic surgeons have been able to conclusively categorize the various types of gynecomastia and have effectively developed treatment plans to address them. When someone asks, “What is Gynecomastia?” surgeons are now able to answer this question with great detail compared to years past.

Dr. Cruise has been  at the forefront of this movement even before it really began. He is now regarded as one of the top gynecomastia surgeons in the world treating over 250 patients annually. Many of his patients travel long distances to ensure they get the every best care available.

Causes of Gynecomastia

“What is Gynecomastia?” is the first question people ask, followed by second “What causes gynecomastia?”

Causes range from hormonal changes during puberty, taking certain medications or drugs, and genetic predisposition. Approximately 70% of healthy teenage boys, between the ages of 12-14 years of age, experience some changes in their breasts during puberty. This is usually a result of hormones and goes away after a couple of years. However, in some cases, the breasts naturally develop into a more feminine appearance without any specific reason or cause. Even in these situations, the problem is treatable with male breast reduction surgery, and the correction is permanent. To date, there are no medications proven to get rid of gynecomastia.

The most common causes of gynecomastia that Dr. Cruise treats in his practice are:

  1. Excess body fat – Increased body fat in men often lies within the breast tissue. This excess body fat causes estrogen (a female hormone) to increase in the blood, which causes breast tissue to grow.
  2. Anabolic steroid use – Gynecomastia is a common side effect of continued steroid use. Men naturally produce small amounts of estrogen, however when steroids are used estrogen levels rise, which can result in breast enlargement. To learn more about steroid use and gynecomastia click here.
  3. Medications – Avadart, Propecia,and many pro-hormones taken to increase muscle mass or for therapy treatments are also known to cause hormonal imbalances resulting in increased breast enlargement.
  4. Natural hormone imbalances – In some situations a man naturally produces too much estrogen or has other hormone ratios which are not where they should be.

Treatment of Gynecomastia

To understand how gynecomastia is treated, you must first understand which type of gynecomastia you have. Dr. Cruise has classified gynecomastia into 6 Types. Each type is unique and has a specific treatment plan as specified by Dr. Cruise. To learn more, visit the Types of Gynecomastia section within this site.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a condition in men or boys who experience enlargement or overdevelopment of the breast tissue.

What Causes Gynecomastia?

The most common cause is an imbalance in hormones. More estrogen in the body and less testosterone can cause breast tissue to grow. There are other factors that can contribute to the condition, such as certain medical conditions, medications, steroids and drugs.

Do medications cause gynecomastia?

Certain medications can cause gynecomastia. These include growth hormones, antiulcer drugs, antibiotics, and chemotherapy.

Does excess fat cause gynecomastia?

Yes, fatty tissue can be a component of gynecomastia, especially in boys or men who are overweight or obese. Fat cells produce estrogen, meaning that those with higher body fat have more estrogen, which may cause over-development of breast tissue.

If I think I have gynecomastia, what should I do?

The first step is to see your primary care doctor for a proper diagnosis. You want to rule out any underlying medical issues. If it is determined you have gynecomastia without any conditions that need to be addressed, the next step is for you to determine if it bothers you enough to have surgery. If so, seek out a plastic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of gynecomastia.