Gynecomastia Causes and Symptoms

How do you know If large breasts on a man are "gynocomastia" or some other problem? Is it just from being obese/being fat?

Doctor Answers 11

Have a question? Ask a doctor


Thank you for the question.

Gynecomastia comes from the Greek meaning "gyne" meaning woman and  "mastos"  meaning breasts.  It refers to abnormal development of large mammary glands in males.  The diagnosis can be made by physical examination where relatively firm tissue  (breast gland tissue) can be differentiated from relatively soft tissue (adipose tissue).

Breast prominence due to excessive adipose tissue is called pseudo-gynecomastia or lipomastia.  The differentiation of true  gynecomastia  from adipose tissue is important because the surgical treatment may differ. Usually  physical examination by a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon is sufficient to make the diagnosis  and to determine the best course of treatment.

I have found that gynecomastia is often best treated with  partial excision of the prominent glandular tissue  as well as liposuction surgery of the peripheral chest area.  If the prominence of the chest wall is caused by adipose tissue, then liposculpture surgery alone may suffice.

 I hope this helps.

Causes of Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia (overdeveloped or enlarged breasts) is common in men of any age. It can be the result of hormonal changes, heredity conditions, disease or the use of certain drugs.  

Gynecomastia is characterized by:

- Excess localized fat
- Excess glandular tissue development
- A combination of both excess fat and glandular tissue
- Gynecomastia may even be present unilaterally (one breast) instead of bilaterally (both breasts).

Nasimul Huq, MD
Niagara Falls Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Gynecomastia (man boobs) causes and treatments

Gynecomastia, or excessive development of the mammary glands in males, commonly known as "man boobs" can be caused by a variety of factors:       

                  1)  Hormonal changes - most commonly during puberty

                   2)  Obesity - also known as pseudo-gynecomastia

                   3)  Medications and drugs   Steroids, AndrogensMarijuana, etc.                   

                    4)  Breast cancer or testicular cancer

Although the first two causes, hormonal changes and obesity, are by far the most common causes of  gynecomastia,  patients with gynecomastia should have a medical history and physical exam performed to rule out the more serious problems.

Treatment usually consists of direct resection of the breast tissue through a small incision and/or liposuction.   I have found Ultrasound (Vaser) assisted liposuction to be very effective in removing the excessive tissue, and tailoring the chest, as well as helping to tighten loose skin which may result with standard liposuction.  

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Causes of gynaecomastia

For pinpointing the exact cause you will need a consultation with a plastic surgeon.

The gynaecomastia can be of pure fatty type of may have a glandular element as well.You may need a detailed medical history ,examination & a few lab tests for determining the cause if any of your problem.

The surgical treatment can involve liposuction &/or  excision of glandular element.

Anup Dhir, MD
India Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 3 reviews


It would be best to have an evaluation by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who specializes in gynecomastia to know what your particular situation is. Sometimes the appearance of gynecomastia may be caused by excess fat and then would be what is referred to as "pseudo-gynecomastia". More cases however include excess breast tissue along with fat and therefore is true gynecomastia. If you think it may be only fat, try losing weight and see if it resolves. If it doesn't you may want to see a specialist and find out your options.

Miguel Delgado, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

True gynecomastia causes

In order to tell whether your gynecomastia is caused by fatty tissue or breast tissue, you will need a consultation and examination by your plastic surgeon. Often it is even difficulty for the plastic surgeon to determine how much of the thickness of the breast is caused by breast tissue versus fatty tissue.

George Weston, MD
Reston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Gynecomastia Causes & Treatment

True gynecomastia can be differentiated from obesity by the presence of glandular tissue which is typically located beneath the areola.  There are many causes (hormonal and medication side effects being the most common).  I treat true gynecomastia with a combination of excision and suctioning as I feel this leads to the best results.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Gynecomastia Causes and Symptoms

Best way to understand is an in person consultation with a boarded PS . Otherwise try wikipedia. From MIAMI Dr. Darryl j. Blinski

Gynecomastia (Man Boobs, Moobs) Causes and Symptoms

Regarding: "Gynecomastia Causes and Symptoms
How do you know If large breasts on a man are "gynocomastia" or some other problem? Is it just from being obese/being fat

There is NO way to properly answer your question without a physical examination and in the space provided here. I suspect you DO have Gynecomastia (man boobs, moobs etc). They are commonly seen in obesity due to the higher proportion of female hormones produced by the fat. The treatment would depend on your circumstances.

To fully understand your options read the link below.

Dr. Peter Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.