What Causes Enlarged Breasts in Men?

Gynaecomastia Causes and Treatment

A lot of adult men around the world today have a condition that is referred to medically as “Gynaecomastia”. Men with this condition have an increase in breast tissue that makes their breasts larger than usual. Although both men and women are born with breast tissues, the breasts in men are usually considered rudimentary as they do not develop like the breasts of women. There are several medical conditions that may cause an increase in male breast tissue. Most men have enlarged breasts simply because they have excess body fat. In these individuals, fat is deposited in the chest region and covers the pectoral muscles. Fortunately, these individuals can eliminate the condition by building muscle and reducing body fat or with the help of liposuction.

Gynaecomastia usually affects about fifty percent of boys during puberty but it usually goes away as they become older with only about thirty percent of adult men getting this condition. Thankfully, there are medical procedures that can help address this condition. When considering surgical options for correcting enlarged breasts in men, it is important to find a specialist plastic surgeon like Dr Michael Kernohan. Your surgeon will examine you and help you create a treatment plan tailored to your unique situation.

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What Causes Enlarged Breasts in Men?

An imbalance in the levels of androgen and estrogen can lead to the development of man boobs. Breast tissue is present in both sexes and its development is fuelled by estrogens. This limits the development of breast tissue in men as they produce more androgen than estrogen, unlike women who produce more estrogen than androgen. About 50 percent of male infants are born with larger breasts as a result of the influence of maternal estrogen. This issue usually resolves a couple of weeks after birth.

It is also possible for hormonal changes brought on by puberty to induce Gynaecomastia. Gynaecomastia in puberty usually resolves on its own in less than two years. It is important to note that men are more susceptible to hormonal fluctuations which makes them more likely to experience an imbalance in their estrogen-androgen ratio. This hormonal imbalance can result in the development of man boobs.

Certain lifestyle choices can cause a hormonal imbalance resulting in man boobs. Identifying and modifying these habits can not only help prevent hormonal imbalance but also helps to prevent other illnesses.

Some causes of man boobs include:

  1. Alcohol abuse: alcohol has a negative impact on the liver’s capacity to eliminate extra estrogen. Additionally, plants utilised in the production of alcoholic beverages and the hops used to manufacture beer contain phytoestrogens which are compounds that act like real estrogen in the body. Chronic alcoholism can also damage liver cells leading to a reduction in their ability to metabolise hormones. A liver that suffering from cirrhosis due to alcohol abuse can produce more estrogen leading to man boobs
  2. Increased body fat: the body’s hormone production changes as the body’s fat-to-muscle ratio increases. With the continuous increase in body fat, the body reduces its production of androgen in favour of estrogen. This results in the development of female-like breasts in males
  3. Medication use: a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that medications are responsible for twenty-five percent of all occurrences of man boobs. Blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and antibiotics are a few examples of frequently prescribed drugs in this category. Discuss with your surgeon and find out if any of the drugs you are taking can cause man boobs. You should also consult your doctor if you notice any of the signs of man boobs
  4. Steroid use: man boobs are one of the downsides to anabolic steroid use. Steroids contain large amounts of testosterone and the breakdown of this testosterone yields large amounts of estrogen. The estrogen formed from steroid metabolism causes the proliferation of glandular tissue and deposition of fat in the male breast leading to man boobs. Man boobs from steroid use can be seen in bodybuilders who have taken steroids to gain muscle mass faster
  5. Deprivation diets: your body’s testosterone levels decrease if you don’t get enough nutrients. This affects the estrogen-to-androgen ratio. While some guys get man boobs while eating less than they normally would, others do not until they begin to receive adequate nutrients as they did normally. This phenomenon where men develop man boobs after a period of nutrient deprivation is referred to as “refeeding Gynaecomastia” and its cause is unknown
  6. Marijuana use: according to the National Institutes of Health, men who abuse substances like cannabis, heroin, and amphetamines may develop more breast tissue. Although the exact way marijuana causes man boobs is unclear, research indicates that cannabis can lower the level of testosterone in the body for about a full day
  7.  Certain products: research has suggested that lavender oil and tea tree oil when applied on the skin can cause Gynaecomastia. These substances are usually used in lotions, shampoos, and soaps and may just be the reason why you may be developing man boobs. Men whose sexual partners use vaginal estrogen creams may also develop man boobs as they unwittingly receive estrogen as well during unprotected sexual intercourse

What Are Other Conditions That Can Cause Man Boobs?

  • Tumours: certain tumours, such as those affecting the testicles or adrenals can generate hormones that change the ratio between androgens and estrogens leading to the development of man boobs
  • Hypogonadism: gynaecomastia has been linked to conditions that reduce the level of testosterone produced by the body
  • Ageing: Gynaecomastia can be brought on by age-related hormonal changes, particularly in overweight men
  • Kidney failure: gynaecomastia is brought on by hormonal imbalances in about 50% of dialysis patients
  • Hyperthyroidism: this is a condition characterised by excess production of thyroid hormones

Can Certain Foods Cause Man Boobs?

Yes! The body produces more estrogen when it consumes foods high in estrogen. When consumed moderately, these foods have no negative effects on a person. However, when intake is high, the body’s estrogen levels are affected, which results in fat accumulation.

Some foods that may cause man boobs include:

  • Deep-fried and packaged food items: deep-fried and packaged food items contain unhealthy levels of saturated fat which increases the body’s muscle-to-fat ratio and may trigger the development of man boobs. Additionally, the high levels of estrogen found in packaged food may also contribute to the development of man boobs
  • Alcohol: the ability of the liver to eliminate unwanted estrogen is negatively affected by all alcoholic beverages. In addition to its deleterious effects on the liver, beer also contains phytoestrogens which the body transforms into estrogen. This further increases the body’s estrogen levels and also increases the likelihood of developing man boobs
  • Soy products: the majority of soy products have plant estrogens that are similar to human estrogens. These soy products increase the body’s estrogen levels which may result in the development of man boobs
  • Frozen meat: these products not only contain a lot of saturated fat but are also covered in PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which may be absorbed into these products and has several negative effects, including hormone imbalance
  • Dairy products: research has revealed that dairy products contain a significant amount of estrogen. Although milk is a fantastic choice for people who need to have a balanced diet, it is advisable to limit the consumption of milk and other dairy products if you’re trying to get rid of man boobs
  • Beetroot: if you do not have enough estrogen in your body then beetroot may be a fantastic natural supplement for you. Beetroot, however, may not ideal for people with hormonal imbalances as it can exacerbate the hormonal imbalance by increasing the body’s estrogen levels

Home Remedies to Reduce Enlarged Breasts in Men

There are some remedies you can try at home to reduce man boobs. It is important to remember to seek medical advice before attempting any of these remedies. Some home remedies to reduce man boobs include:

  • Exercise: exercising regularly can help you lose chest fat. Continuous exercise also tones the muscle of the chest to give your breasts a more manly appearance. Creating and sticking to an exercise regimen made up of both aerobic and high-intensity exercises can help ensure that you quickly eliminate any chest fat responsible for your man boobs
  • Diet: combining physical exercise with a nutritious diet will maximise your weight loss and reduce the size of your man boobs. You’ll gain weight when you consume more calories than you expend. Fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and fish are some food items that enhance fat burning even when you aren’t working out. You should also minimise your consumption of sweets and other processed foods to speed up your weight loss process
  • Ginger: you can boost your metabolism and eliminate extra fat by consuming ginger. Although ginger can be used in cooking meals, nutritionists generally advise drinking ginger as a tea thrice daily to boost the effects of weight reduction and speed up metabolism
  • Green tea: there are numerous antioxidants in green tea that help to speed up metabolism enabling your body to burn more calories and fats. This may help to lower the size of man boobs

How are Man Boobs Treated?

The underlying cause of your disease, as well as how severe it is, will determine your man boobs treatment option. If the underlying cause of your man boobs is medication use, then stopping the drug or switching to a new one can help to stop your breasts from enlarging. Treating the condition can also help to reduce breast swelling if your man boobs are a result of an underlying health issue.

Breast reduction surgery is also another treatment option for man boobs. If you opt for this procedure, your plastic surgeon will reduce the size of your breasts by removing breast tissue.

The gynaecomastia surgery is performed with the patient under general anaesthesia. Depending on the particular characteristics of each patient, liposuction might be used to reduce the layer of fat and better contour the chest. However, this is only necessary if the patient has a considerable fat accumulation in the chest area.

Gynaecomastia surgery can take up to two hours, depending on the complexity of each case. Dr Kernohan will make incisions under the breasts and around the areola. Then, the skin is detached from the underlying tissues. The excess of glandular and fat tissues are removed to create a more masculine-looking chest. The skin excess can also be eliminated and the incisions are sutured.

There is a recovery period of almost two weeks after getting a make breast reduction surgery. Make sure to follow Dr Kernohan’s indications to the letter to avoid unwanted complications after the intervention.

FAQs about Man Boobs Causes and Treatment

What causes male breast enlargement?

  • Gynaecomastia is frequently brought on by an imbalance in the body’s androgen-to-estrogen ratio. The development of breast tissue is fuelled by estrogen which is only produced by the male body in small levels. Therefore, conditions that increase the estrogen level of the body or decrease the testosterone levels may result in male breast enlargement.

How do you get rid of male breast naturally?

  • Your body requires nutrients to maintain adequate testosterone production and these nutrients are provided when you eat a balanced diet. Eating a balanced diet can also help you reduce your total body fat. Protein, zinc, and vitamins are nutrients required by the body for the synthesis of testosterone. However, in most cases a breast reduction surgery is needed to help you get rid of man boobs.

What happens if Gynaecomastia is not treated?

  • If you have Gynaecomastia then you have a slightly higher risk of developing male breast cancer. It is important to note, however that you still have an extremely low risk of getting male breast cancer even if you have Gynaecomastia.

Further Reading

Medical References about Man Boobs