Gynecomastia is a medical condition that causes males to grow enlarged breast tissue. While some may only experience a mild swelling, others may grow large, pendulous breasts more commonly associated with females. Understanding the common causes of this condition can make it easier to be proactive in your own treatment.
Pregnancy Exposure to Estrogen
It’s not uncommon for newborn males to develop gynecomastia due to the excess estrogen they were exposed to in the womb. The Mayo Clinic estimates that half of all male newborns have some degree of gynecomastia. While this can be concerning for new parents, the condition is harmless and usually resolves within the first few weeks of life due to the baby’s hormones regulating and excreting the excess estrogen.
Hormone Imbalances Related to Puberty
Puberty makes huge changes to a boy’s body. Sometimes, hormones can become unbalanced. This can lead to excess breast development, which can be very embarrassing for a child. Luckily, this form of gynecomastia usually resolves itself on its own. Just as with infants, a healthy male can usually expect his hormones to balance naturally as time goes on. Of course, obesity, genetics and other factors can weigh into each individual case.
Age-Related Gynecomastia in Older and Elderly Men
The Mayo Clinic reports that a quarter of all men aged 50 to 80 have gynecomastia, with the severity ranging from mild puffiness to conspicuous, pendulous breasts. Men with very large breasts may choose to undergo a male breast reduction procedure.
Prescription Drug Usage
There is a laundry list of prescription medications that can cause breast growth in men and boys of all ages. Such drug categories include:
- HIV/AIDS medications, especially Sustiva
- Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs
- Certain types of antibiotics used to fight infection
- Anabolic steroids
- Anti-androgens used to combat prostate enlargement or prostate cancer
- Cancer treatment medications, especially chemotherapy drugs
Recreational Drugs and Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol, amphetamines, heroin, methadone and marijuana have all been linked to gynecomastia. This is especially true for people who use these drugs or drink alcohol to excess. If you’ve noted swelling in your breasts, be open and honest with our doctor about your drinking or drug use.
Liver malfunction, malnutrition, certain tumors and even simple aging can all cause male breast tissue to expand. Obesity and thyroid problems may also be to blame.
You Don’t Have to Live with Gynecomastia
If you are male and your breasts are growing or you’ve noted breast growth on your son, schedule an appointment at the office of Dr. J. Anthony Stephens, MD in Baton Rouge. Address your concerns with our plastic surgeon and learn about our male breast reduction procedure. This simple procedure may be all that you need to say goodbye to your enlarged breasts once and for all. Contact us today to book your consultation.