Causes of Gynecomastia, Common and Uncommon
Sacramento, CA -Gynecomastia Surgery
Male breasts are also known as gynecomastia and are caused by an abundance of glandular benign breast tissue. There are normal causes of breast development and some that are abnormal.
Normal but temporary breast development in males happens at birth, puberty and for the older man usually after the age of 50.
For male infants, there is a conversion of hormones from androgenic to estrogenic by the placenta; however the breast development usually subsides within a few weeks. For young males when they reach puberty, due to the changing levels of hormones, they may develop fullness in their breasts and/or puffy nipples. This is most disturbing for adolescent young men, but for 90-95% it is temporary and resolves within a few months to a couple of years. There are many men that develop gynecomastia after they reach age 50, as their testosterone levels start to drop. Male breast reduction surgery is an option for the older man and even for the adolescent boy if his breasts are causing him psychological problems.
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Also, some prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana, anabolic steroids, chemotherapy and dialysis are more common causes of gynecomastia.
There are uncommon causes for the development of the male breast that men should be aware of, such as Klinefelter’s syndrome and Grave’s disease. Even though breast cancer in men is very rare with only 1% attributed to all breast cancers, the incidence is 50 times higher for men with Klinefelter’s syndrome.
After World War II, it was noted that prisoners of war had a high incidence of developing gynecomastia. When malnourished, men’s testosterone level drops but estrogen continues to be produced, causing an imbalance of hormones. After men had been on a normal diet, many noticed the development of breasts, this phenomena is referred to as “refeeding gynecomastia.” For most men, their chest returned to normal within a few months to a couple of years.
There have been cases of topical lotions and oils that are believed to have an effect on the development of breasts in young men. In particular, lavender oil and tea tree oil have come under scrutiny. It is believed that these oils may inhibit the action of androgens, but in a report from National Institute of Health (NIH), more research needs to be done to support these theories.
Determining the cause of gynecomastia can be very frustrating, and the cause may never be known. It is more important to be seen by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon that specializes in gynecomastia for an evaluation.