How do I get rid of gynecomastia (‘man boobs’)?
Growth of breast tissue in men, often socially referred to as ‘man boobs’, can be caused by a couple of things.
The first is gynecomastia (say it: “guy-na-co-mas-tee-ah”), which is when male breast tissue grows larger than usual. The second is pseudogynecomastia (say it: “soo-doe-guy-na-co-mas-tee-ah”), which is due to growth of fat.
Gynecomastia is usually caused by a hormone imbalance (when there is too much or too little of a hormone). It’s common in newborn baby boys and during puberty, because of normal hormonal changes that occur at these times, and usually goes away on its own.
Men with Klinefelter syndrome, who have very low testosterone levels, may develop obvious gynecomastia during puberty.
Up to 70% of men aged 50-85 years may have gynecomastia, which can come about because of hormonal changes caused by chronic health conditions, such as obesity or type two diabetes, or as a side effect of medications. Successful treatment or management of these underlying health conditions, or stopping medications that might be causing gynecomastia, may reduce the amount of breast tissue.
If gynecomastia doesn’t go away on its own, male breast reduction surgery to remove the extra breast tissue is possible. Men that are suited to, or don’t want to undertake surgery, hormone therapy or other medication can reduce the appearance of gynecomastia by using a compression shirt.
Breast tissue due to the growth of fat (pseudogynecomastia) can be helped by losing weight through diet and exercise. Sometimes, liposuction can be used to remove the excess fat that causes pseudo-gynecomastia.
Learn more about gynecomastia.
Answered by: Associate Professor Tim Moss
Associate Professor Tim Moss has PhD in physiology and more than 20-years’ experience as a biomedical research scientist. Tim stepped away from his successful academic career at the end of 2019, to apply his skills in turning complicated scientific and medical knowledge into information that all people can use to improve their health and well being.
Tim has written for crikey.com and Scientific American’s Observations blog, which is far more interesting than his authorship of over 150 academic publications. He has studied science communication at the Alan Alda Centre for Communicating Science in New York, and at the Department of Biological Engineering Communication Lab at MIT in Boston.