In spite of the growing acceptance and support for the “dad bod,” many men are still ashamed of their “man boobs.” Gynecomastia is the medical term for man boobs and it is defined as the benign enlargement of the male breast tissue. This condition is common among men and can occur at any time, at any age. A study in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that 30 percent of men worldwide will grow a set of man boobs at some point in their life.
Signs and symptoms of gynecomastia are scarce. It’s mainly just an enlargement of either one or both breasts. The breast growth may be uniform or uneven in size, has a rubbery or firm feeling, and may appear just behind the nipple. Due to the swelling of the glandular tissue, the breast or nipple may be painful or tender when touched. In teenage boys, there is the presence of a breast bud in one or both breasts and can persist for up to two years.
Gynecomastia occurs when there is a presence of more than 2 cm of tangible, firm, subareolar gland and ductal breast tissue. About 60 to 90 percent of newborn babies experience this condition as a result of maternal estrogens while 50 to 60 percent of adolescents have gynecomastia due to a relatively low testosterone level compared to estrogen level at puberty.
Meanwhile, 70 percent of men aged 50 to 69 are affected with this condition. It is typically caused by an imbalance in hormones – testosterone level is lower than estrogen level. Males produce some estrogen, but they normally have much higher levels of testosterone which blocks the estrogen from causing breast tissue to grow. However, if the balance of hormones in the body is disrupted then this can cause a man’s breasts to protrude.
In most cases, man boobs appear due to an increase in body weight or obesity in older men. Known as pseudogynecomastia, the male breasts become bigger because of fat tissue deposits and not through the expansion of the actual breast glands.
Other causes of gynecomastia include medications to increase prolactin levels, alcoholism, illicit drug abuse, genetics, long-term type 1 diabetes mellitus, chronic illness, and spinal cord injury.
It is crucial to differentiate gynecomastia from male breast cancer. Similar to female breast cancer, only one breast is usually affected and the tissue does not have the typical hard or firm texture. Men affected with this type of cancer will find dimpling of the skin in the bosom area, a lump under the arm, nipple discharge, and retraction of the nipple.
Another problem that can cause the male breast to grow abnormally is breast abscess, a bacterial infection. This is a very rare case in men, but if affected, one can experience fever or chills. The swelling can be very painful and very sensitive to touch. The skin surrounding the breast area will appear reddish in color.
Although breast cancer due to male breast enlargement is very rare, there are a number of reasons why men opted to treat their unnatural bulging bosoms. Gynaecomastia can be physically embarrassing and psychologically distressingfor men, and this should not be taken for granted.
According to News.com.au, around 30,000 Australian men are battling depression and anxiety associated with man boobs. The lack of better judgment and understanding are causing unnecessary psychological issues in men who are experiencing this condition. Psychological issues include lower self-esteem, failing sex lives and personal relationships, and even suicidal ideations.
Gynecomastia usually resolves without any medical treatment. For neonates, it will resolve after a few weeks, while those in teenage boys will gradually disappear after a year or two. If the breast enlargement is due to an underlying health condition (such as breast cancer, liver disease, or hypogonadism), an immediate medical intervention is necessary.
Most of the time, men can reduce the appearance of their man boobs through proper diet and regular exercise. However, appropriate medical treatment is necessary to tackle the problem on breast tissue proliferation.
Your diet may also affect hormonal responses in your body, which may increase your risk for gynecomastia. Starting today, set aside those alcoholic and soda drinks, burgers, junk foods, and all high-sugar foods. Instead, grab some nutrient-rich meals three times a day, every day. Eating whole, nutrient-rich foods can help you lose weight and gradually diminish the fat tissue on your chest. Have more meats, chicken, fish, vegetables, and fruits in your diet. Meats such as chicken, pork, lamb, and beef are all rich in protein.
Replace those fat tissue deposits with massive muscles. Strength training like pushup, bench press, and weight-lifting can help you build a solid chest. Cardiovascular exercises are also required, such as walking, jogging, and bicycling. Muscle size is directly associated to strength gain, hence, getting stronger will help sculpt your chest muscles. Also, the more weight you lift during workouts, the more calories you burn.
Apart from keeping your bones and joints in the correct alignment, good posture helps you minimize the visibility of your man boobs. Sitting in long hours can tighten your chest muscles and can cause your shoulders to slouch, which will then make your man boobs more obvious. The same thing with prolong sitting and how it can cause your hip muscles to tighten and your stomach to look bigger. So, sit up straight! With regular practice, you can get the correct posture for sitting and even standing in no time.
There are prescribed drugs that can bring the hormones back into balance, but it can take several months to take effect and are not always guaranteed to be successful.
Also known as reduction mammaplasty, gynecomastia surgery is a growing procedure for men which reduces the breast size through the removal of excess breast fat and breast tissues. It helps flatten the chest and improve body contour. Men opted to go under surgery if they struggle to remove stubborn man boobs in spite of the tremendous exercise and dieting.
It should be noted that not everyone with gynecomastia can undergo this type of surgery. Surgeons have a specific criteria on which they base their choices for the right candidate for the procedure. Thus, it is highly recommended to book a consultation with a reputable surgeon.
With almost 27 years of practice in Australia, the USA, and Europe, Dr. Jassim Daood is one of the most experienced and trusted cosmetic surgeons in the “Land Down Under”.
Dr Daood Cosmetic Surgery is located at 37/256 Chapel Rd, South Bankstown NSW 2200, Australia. For all inquiries, call +61 1300 656 236.