What is gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a medical condition in which men develop abnormal amounts of breast tissue. The name of the phenomenon comes from the Greek words "gyne" and "mastos", meaning "woman" and "breast". This condition is common among young people, however the symptoms usually disappear after a few months or years. The cause of gynecomastia is often an imbalance in hormone levels. The excess breast tissue consists of both adipose and glandular tissue.

Breast formation men

Both boys and girls have mammary glands behind their nipple at birth. With boys, they usually disappear during childhood. With girls, the glands will develop to a breast formation during puberty, under the influence of hormones. But boys may also have mammary glands swelling. This usually happens on both breasts, but the unwanted issue can also show up on one of the breasts. This enlargement is often only short-lived, during puberty, but can also continue for a number of years.

Causes of Gynecomastia

Breast formation in men is usually not harmful to their health and doesn’t have a serious cause. However, in some cases the gynecomastia can have a more underlying and serious cause:

  • A side effect of certain medications;
  • A response to metabolic changes in liver or kidney disease;
  • A change in the production of hormones (too little hormone production or due to stress)
  • Taking extra hormones;
  • Hormone-producing growths on the testicles or the airways;
  • Breast cancer.

If you are unsure whether one of the above causes is the reason for your gynecomastia, we advise you to consult a doctor. We are not a medical institution that can provide professional advice on this.

Diagnosis of Gynecomastia

When gynecomastia occurs in babies or adolescents, a doctor can perform a physical examination that examines the testicles and lymph nodes. Sometimes an additional test is needed, such as a blood test. The doctor may also perform an ultrasound scan of the mammary gland, testicles or liver. Sometimes an X-ray of the mammary gland or lungs is also taken.

Treatment of gynecomastia

When a serious medical cause has been ruled out, the doctor can determine what the follow-up treatment will look like. The doctor often waits several months because gynecomastia can disappear on its own. If the gynecomastia is the result of medication use, it will be decided whether you can stop taking the medication or switch to another medication. If the cause is not clear, depending on the complaints, an operation can be chosen to remove the excess breast tissue. In addition, you can choose to wear a binder that makes the chest look flatter. This is also often a temporary solution, before the surgery takes place.

Breast reduction or breast removal for men

During the surgery, the glandular tissue under the nipple is removed, after which it is examined in a laboratory. The surgery for gynecomastia usually takes place in day treatment under either general anesthesia or local anesthesia. The operation takes about 45 minutes to an hour. After undergoing this operation it is sensible and sometimes necessary to wear a special binder or compression shirt.