Clarifying The Concept of Male Breasts and Gynecomastia

Based on recent events, it seems the common perception of male breasts has changed; what was once a relatively obscure condition is now approaching the level of pop culture phenomenon.

Finlo Rohrer of BBC news speculates that media – especially the tabloid scrutinization of celebrities – has popularized the concept of ‘man boobs.’ Tony Blair and UK conservative party leader, David Cameron, were pictured shirtless during the summer of 2006, which led several media outlets to “comment on their moobs.”

The weblog www.manboobs.uk, which according to one reader, has “plumbed the depths of poor taste,” pokes fun at the concept, but further popularizes it.  American television sitcoms like Seinfeld and Friends have done the same.  According to Rorher, this popularity could lead to “more men making their way through the surgeon’s doors.”

So what is the deal with male breasts?  Here are a few things you might not know:

  • Gynecomastia that forms breast tissue in males, is a relatively common condition that is often mistaken for simple excess fat. It can affect newborns, pubescent boys, and adults.  While it isn’t serious (unless it is a sign of something else), it can be painful and embarrassing.
  • Obesity can cause a condition of excess breast tissue, but real gynecomastia is caused by a hormone imbalance. In either case, surgery can alleviate the symptoms.
  • Medications, or illegal drugs like marijuana and anabolic steroids can cause gynecomastia. Particular drugs that are used during treatment for prostate cancer are to blame.
  • Gynecomastia can also be caused by genetic conditions like Klinefelter’s Syndrome.
  • Surgery isn’t the only option: in cases of pubertal gynecomastia, the condition will often disappear over time or when puberty is over.  Other cases have shown improvement without any interventions; one case published in the June 2008 issue of Endocrine Practices documents a rare case of bilateral gynecomastia in a 60 year old man. The patient’s examination results were normal, but he reported a daily intake of 3 qts soy milk.  Once the patient ceased his intake of soy milk, his condition improved and his hormone imbalance was resolved.

While underlying issues like hormone imbalance and obesity should always be addressed,  many patients find that surgery is the right choice for correcting excess breast tissue.  Male breast reduction can restore a natural masculine appearance. If you are interested in learning more, contact us for a consultation.