The chest or breasts are a defining feature of gender, with breasts generally being considered to be a female trait.
However, some men develop breasts which may be a source of embarrassment, and even shame. Dr John Flynn offers gynaecomastia surgery, which may include liposuction and skin tightening to reduce the size of breast tissue occurring in a man, to create a more masculine chest.
What is gynaecomastia?
Not to be confused with fat enlarged breasts in men due to weight gain, gynaecomastia is a hormonal disorder which occurs in men of all sizes causing mammary tissue to swell. Although obesity is one contributing factor for gynaecomastia, medications, certain foods, herbal treatments and body building supplements can have an impact.
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How to tell if you have gynaecomastia?
Typically men have a higher testosterone level than women, who have higher oestrogen levels. These hormonal levels play a major role in the masculine and feminine appearance, as well as reproductive functions.
Although men also naturally have breast tissue, gynaecomastia is the abnormal swelling of these tissues creating female-like breasts commonly called man-boobs, or even moobs.
At first gynaecomastia appears as swollen breasts with outward-pointed nipples, and a more pronounced areola. As gynaecomastia progresses, the breast shape becomes more like female breasts.
A build-up of fatty tissue on the chest due to obesity is called pseudogynaecomastia. Although the end result is similar, in this case breasts are due to weight gain and not a hormonal imbalance. The difference between these two conditions can only be diagnosed by a medical practitioner. Sometimes blood tests are performed to check hormones or ultrasound to give a better diagnosis, however in most cases these are not necessary. The cosmetic solution is the same; both these physical symptoms can be corrected through a surgical procedure which may include liposuction and skin tightening.
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What causes gynaecomastia?
Gynaecomastia is caused by a hormonal imbalance where a man has more oestrogen than he should. This can happen during puberty, however this type of hormonal imbalance will likely correct itself in a short period of time and is generally not cause for concern. Swelling of breast tissue is however a cause for concern in fully grown men as it is unlikely to correct itself without diagnosis and treatment. The most common causes of gynaecomastia are obesity (which may have an influence on your hormone levels) and the use of performance enhancers and steroids which work by altering hormone levels and may do so in unexpected ways.
The causes of gynaecomastia are not always as obvious as obesity and steroids. Things you use every day and may even assume are good for you could be increasing your risk of developing man-boobs. We’ve listed 5 things you didn’t know can cause ‘man-boobs’:
Cosmetics and toiletries
Good quality toiletries made with natural ingredients and essential oils may seem like the best way to take care of yourself, however recent studies have shown that excessive use of some essential oils including lavender and tea tree oils can increase your chances of developing gynaecomastia. Although used externally, these essential oils can seep into the blood stream and effect hormonal changes.
Testosterone is a possible cause of hair loss. Some men have hair follicles that are sensitive to the hormone and are inhibited by its presence after years of exposure causing male pattern baldness. One of the ways to reverse this is by diluting the concentration of testosterone so that the hair follicles can thrive again. However, a side effect of this is a hormonal imbalance which could cause gynaecomastia and other hormone-related complications.
Testosterone can be used as a treatment to boost energy and improve sexual performance in men. However, by increasing testosterone you may cause your body to seek balance and convert some of the testosterone into oestrogen. This will spike the natural level of oestrogen and may temporarily cause gynaecomastia. In some cases, the gynaecomastia does not reverse on its own and may need direct treatment.
Gynaecomastia is a symptom of progressed liver disease. When the liver fails, it produces proteins that can latch onto testosterone and prevent it from functioning as a hormone, thus changing the hormonal balance and allowing oestrogen to become dominant. This will cause gynaecomastia, however this happens in the advanced stages of liver disease and will be proceeded by more typical symptoms.
Testicular or pituitary tumours can affect hormone production and reduce levels of testosterone in the body. This can give oestrogen dominance and present in an array of symptoms including gynaecomastia.