Enlargement of a Man's Breast Tissue
The hormones testosterone and estrogen control the development and maintenance of sex characteristics in both men and women. Testosterone controls male traits, such as muscle mass and body hair. Estrogen controls female traits, including the growth of breasts.
Most people think of estrogen as an exclusively female hormone, but men also produce it, normally in small quantities. However, if male estrogen levels become too high or are out of balance with testosterone levels, it can cause a condition known as gynecomastia (male breasts or “man boobs”).
Gynecomastia is a benign enlargement or swelling of a man’s breast tissue, due to a hormone imbalance during puberty. Other causes include aging, medications, and other health conditions. Common symptoms of gynecomastia are breast tenderness, swelling, pain, and discharge.
About half of all guys going through puberty have some degree of gynecomastia in one or both breasts. It's almost always temporary, and it's very unusual for the breasts to stay developed, they will eventually flatten out completely within a few months to a couple of years. Gynecomastia usually goes away without medical treatment.
Even though gynecomastia is often a temporary change, some guys with gynecomastia experience psychological distress, feeling embarrassed or self-conscious about their appearance. Many guys find that wearing loose-fitting shirts helps make the condition less noticeable until the breast tissue shrinks over time. However, if it doesn’t, surgery may be the answer.
Believe it or not, plastic surgery is not just for women. Surgical removal of the breast tissue is an option, depending on the person. If you or someone you may know finds gynecomastia to be bothering them, talk to your board-certified plastic surgeon.