27 November, 2021

The Beginner’s Guide to Gynecomastia

Are you male and noticing your breasts have grown in size?

It surely feels weird and is becoming awkward and embarrassing to be seen in public without a shirt. You might be wondering what’s going on with your body.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have gynecomastia. No need to panic just yet, it’s a normal condition and you’re certainly not alone. According to the Mayo Clinic, gynecomastia affects about 1 in 4 men between the ages of 50 and 80, but it’s not just males between these age ranges that experience gynecomastia.

What causes gynecomastia? Is it a permanent condition?

Here is all you need to know about gynecomastia.

WHAT IS GYNECOMASTIA?

Gynecomastia is a benign growth of male breast glandular tissue. It is defined clinically by the presence of a rubbery or firm mass extending concentrically from the nipples.

In simple terms, Gynecomastia is the swelling of male breast tissue caused by a hormone imbalance. This swelling most times happens on both breasts and is referred to as “bilateral” or sometimes on just one breast which is referred to as “unilateral”.

Gynecomastia should not be mistaken for pseudogynecomastia (lipomastia), which typically is marked by fat deposition without glandular proliferation. A clear difference is that in gynecomastia a hard lump can be felt under the nipple and this lump is typically firmer than fat and may be painful or sensitive to touch.

WHAT CAUSES GYNECOMASTIA?

The swelling of the breast on males typically is due to reduced male hormones called testosterone or increased female hormones called oestrogen. Puberty, ageing, certain medication,and health conditions that have the ability to affect hormonal levels are primarily responsible for gynecomastia.

One of the functions of the hormone estrogen is the growth of breast tissue. Naturally, all men produce some levels of oestrogen but they usually have much higher levels of testosterone, which serves as a means to inhibit estrogen’s ability to grow breast tissue.

STAGES OF GYNECOMASTIA

In 1973, scientist B.E.Simon alongside his colleagues S. Hoffman and S.Kahn Categorized gynecomastia into four stages/grades:

  • Grade I: Small enlargement without skin excess
  • Grade IIa: Moderate enlargement without skin excess
  • Grade IIb: Moderate enlargement with minor skin excess
  • Grade III: Marked enlargement with excess skin, mimicking the female breast

IS GYNECOMASTIA HARMFUL?

Gynecomastia is not considered harmful. Gynecomastia caused by hormone changes during puberty is quite common and will usually go away without treatment within six months to two years.

HOW TO REGULATE GYNECOMASTIA

While this condition is common and can in most cases go away without treatment, certain factors can help prevent or regulate it:

  • Diet and exercise
  • Stopping the use of drugs or steroids
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Hormone treatments
  • Losing weight
  • Surgery

In certain situations, surgery is required to treat gynecomastia. As testosterone levels continue to drop in older men, it could result in gynecomastia and persist if not treated. In Orange County Gynecomastia procedures can be easily scheduled and many clinics can perform an effective, minor surgery that corrects this issue.


Debora Franks

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