Understand All About Gynecomastia or Breast Enlargement

Breast enlargement in men is a commonly experienced consequence of puberty, but there can be other causes as well. Learn all about this medical condition.

Meenakshi Chaudhary
Men's HealthWritten by: Meenakshi ChaudharyPublished at: Jul 21, 2018
Understand All About Gynecomastia or Breast Enlargement

Breast enlargement or gynecomastia is characterised by enlarged breasts in boys or men of any age and happens due to imbalance of hormones – estrogen and testosterone. 

Gynecomastia is mostly seen in boys going through their puberty, the latter being a major cause for more than enough fat deposits on the chest area. Therefore, however, can be several other causes for the such feminine features to develop in men. It poses no such danger to physical health but can cause immense psychological trauma. Sometimes, pain may also accompany this condition making it more embarrassing for men. This abnormal growth of breasts may disappear on its own but in rare cases, may need treatment with medication or surgery. It may occur in one or both the breasts.


  • Swollen appearance of breasts
  • Pain in breasts


All men have both the male and female hormones i.e. testosterone and estrogen in a balanced state in their body. Changes in the balance of hormones due to numerous factors can lead to the development of male breasts. Some common causes of male breasts include the following.

  • Naturally occurring hormonal changes during puberty and during ageing process in men
  • Medications like certain steroids, antiandrogens, antibiotics, cardiovascular drugs, antidepressants, recreational drugs, etc can cause male breasts. Cancer treatment or chemotherapy can result in hormonal changes, thereby triggering development of male breasts
  • Specific health conditions such as liver disease, kidney failure, overactive thyroid, hypogonadism, tumours and even genetics can cause male breasts

Risk Factors

  • Puberty or adolescence
  • Ageing
  • Drugs like anabolic steroids which interfere with hormones
  • Specific health conditions like hypothyroidism, liver and kidney ailments


Gynecomastia which occurs most commonly during puberty should be given time to disappear on its own. If the condition is due to some medication, talk to your doctor about the developing breasts and preferably, request for permission to discontinue the medication. Gynecomastia due to any underlying health condition like thyroid or other ailments would need specific treatment. Sometimes, excess weight can cause enlarged breasts in men; if it so, losing weight should be the focus. Certain medicines like tamoxifen and raloxifene may be used but they are not specifically meant for this condition. Last resort to treat male breasts is surgery. Two types of surgery may be considered for the same; they are:

Mastectomy: Involves removal of breast tissue.

Liposuction: Removes fat from the breast area but breast tissue remains intact.


  • Maintain moderate body weight during puberty and while ageing
  • Avoid alcohol and other recreational drugs
  • Check with your doctor with prescribed medications that can cause this condition and ask for substitutes if any

Male breasts are a source of immense trauma for a lot of people. If you are thing and have male breasts, there is a high possibility that your hormones have a role to play in it. Talk to your doctor to decide what would be the best treatment for the problem.

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