How do I Tell if my Gynecomastia is Caused by Fatty Tissues or Breast Tissues?

Doctor Answers 32

You Can Usually Do It Yourself!

In most cases, you should be able to have a good idea if you have fatty breasts (Pseudo-gynecomastia) or "True" gynecomastia simply by examining yourself. 

With Pseudo-gynecomastia, the breast feels soft and homogenous throughout, much like a similar sized female breast.   In contrast, "True" gynecomastia will feel like a firm, well defined disk of tissue, directly beneath the areola and surrounding skin.

The majority of patients I see in the Pacific Northwest actually have a combination of Pseudo and True  gynecomastia.  In this case, you would feel both a soft, fatty, female type breast along with a firm, almost rubbery subareolar disk of tissue.  If your breast is large, it might be difficult to feel this firm tissue however. 

Remember, if you notice any type of mass, bleeding from the nipple, unexplained pain, particularly in one breast, you should seek medical attention in order to avoid missing some other type of serious condition.  

I hope that answers your question.

Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Gynecomastia Fat or Breast Tissue

Gynecomastia can be fat, glandular, or a combination of both. An experienced plastic surgeon can tell you what you have. Your plastic surgeon can put a unique surgical plan together for you that will address your concerns while leaving as few visible scars as possible.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 118 reviews

Male breast fatty tissue or glandular tissue requires a consultation to sort out.

Enlargement of the male breast known as "gynecomastia" is most often a combination of both glandular tissue and extra fatty tissue. An examination  by a Plastic Surgeon can usually sort this out but occasionally imaging studies such as ultrasound, Xray or MRI can be useful. If you have a very lean body with firm or nodular tissue directly behind the nipple only then chances are this is mostly glandular tissue. By far the majority of men who we help with this condition have this glandular tissue as well as a disproportionate amount of fatty tissue on the chest.

The first step in correcting this is to be near your ideal weight and rule out any medical issues that may be treatable without surgery. Medically reversible causes of gynecomastia are uncommon so the best treatment then becomes surgery. Results from surgical management done by a Plastic Surgeon are highly successful and satisfying for most patients. Good Luck!

Dr. Mosher

Mathew C. Mosher, MD
Vancouver Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

How do I Tell if my Gynecomastia is Caused by Fatty Tissues or Breast Tissues?

By going for an examination by a boarded plastic surgeon. Over the internet impossible to advise without that touchy feely experience. From MIAMI Dr. Darryl j. Blinski

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

Gynecomastia Usually Comprised of Both Fatty & Glandular Tissue

 90% of the cases of the cases that I see of gynecomastia have elements of both excess fat and glandular tissue.  For that reason my treatment  ususally is both excision and liposuction.  Occasionally only one of these elements is present.  Consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon should provide your answer.

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

Who is a Gynecomastia Surgery Candidate

The male breast is composed of glandular tissue and fatty tissue. An excess in either type of tissue can cause the chest to take on the look of gynecomastia. Gynecomastia can affect #men of all different body types. There are different types of #gynecomastia.
According to official statistics, 36% of adult young men and 57% of older #adult men in the United States have this medical condition in one of the four grades.
About 200,000 to 3 million cases of #gynecomastia are being reported every single year. So if you have #breast #enlargement and you feel you're an exception, please understand that 1 in 3 young adult #men and 1 in 2 older adult men are just like you and have breast #enlargement.
Several common factors can cause gynecomastia including excessive levels of #estrogen, natural #hormone changes, use of recreational drugs or alcohol, medications and their associated side effects, and, various health conditions. Also, there are different types of #gynecomastia.
There are three types of surgical #treatment #options available that treat gynecomastia. Your board-certified plastic surgeon will recommend the type best suited for you.
The most important decision to be made before performing any surgical procedure is determining whether you are an ideal #candidate.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

It's sometimes hard to tell

The bottom line is that you need to see a plastic surgeon to know...and even then sometimes we plastic surgeons can't tell for sure until surgery.

In general if it is fat the breast will have a soft and homogeneous feel, with no difference in consistency deep to the areola (where the gland would be) as compared to the rest of the breast.

If there is true enlarged breast tissue there is usually a firm area deep to the areola.

When there is enlarged breast tissue rather than just fat the nipple tends to be more puffy.  And those patients often will say that it looks better when their areola is cold and contracted - but that's not always the case.

Steven Teitelbaum, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Fatty or "true" gynecomastia

A "true" gynecomastia results from excessive glandular tissue under the nipple and areola. It will feel firm, like a "knot" or a "disk" under the nipple area. It may change over time, sometimes feeling larger and firmer and more tender, and other times, not as much. Gynecomastia due to fat is softer, tends to be more consistent in how it looks and feels, and is accompanied by a higher percent body fat overall. People with true gynecomastia can be very lean, but may also have a higher percentage body fat. The two - fatty and "true" gynecomastia can also exist together in the same person.

Terence Michael Myckatyn, MD
Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

True gynecomastia vs pseudo gynecomastia

True gynecomastia should feel very hard on exam. Gynecomastia due to fat will feel much softer. Sometimes it is hard to tell on exam only.

Kurtis Martin, MD
Cincinnati Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Fat Versus Gland

Hi Amauri,

Thank you for the post. Glandular tissue typically feels firm and in some cases can be tender. Fatty tissue feels softer and less distinct. The best advice I can give you is to be evaluated by a board-certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in gynecomastia surgery. The distinction is important as it will dictate the surgical procedure that should be performed.


Dr. Dadvand

Babak Dadvand, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 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.