Gynecomastia refers to the overgrowth of mammary glands in men. This gives an appearance of “male breasts”. This “chesty condition” can be very embarrassing. It can take a toll on your social life. Although, it can affect men of any age, it is most prevalent among boys undergoing puberty.
During puberty, the hormonal levels fluctuate. Hormones like estrogen (female hormone) and testosterone (male hormone) are usually present in varying degrees among both sexes. Females have higher levels of estrogen, and testosterone is present in high level among the male population. When a male goes through puberty, a temporary hormonal imbalance might occur, whereby relative to testosterone, estrogen level might increase. This can result in glandular overgrowth, which results in male breast augmentation. The situation usually resolves itself once the hormone levels begin to balance out. Thus, in most pubertal boys, this situation gets settled in a year or two.
There are other cases where this condition might occur among the elderly male population. One reason for this is that, as you age, the levels of testosterone in your body decreases. This results in weight again. In this case two things can give rise to the “male boobs”. The lowering of testosterone, and the weight gain (fat deposits around your breasts). The former case might result in a condition called Gynecomastia, and the latter might result in a condition called pseudogynecomastia. Pseudogynecomastia is a condition which is prevalent among the obese population. This is not the result of overgrowing glandular tissue.
Presence of true Gynecomastia during puberty, usually resolves itself when the hormones (testosterone and estrogen) level back to normal.
The most visible gynecomastia symptom is enlargement of breasts. It is important to note that this enlargement is not the cause of excessive adipose tissue deposits; instead this enlargement is actually caused due to the abnormal growth of glandular tissue beneath the areolar region. The enlargement itself is pretty symmetrical to the eyes. The breasts might have some sensitivity, and appear firm. That said, there should not be any form of pain present. If there is any secretion or dimpling of skin present, then it might actually be a sign of breast cancer. Also, unlike in the case of breast cancer, its only the areolar region where the growth occurs. The enlargement is usually between 1- 5 cm.
Less known gynecomastia symptoms include any discharge from nipples, pain in the breast, protruding nipples and tenderness in the breast.
Treatments for patients with true Gynecomastia can range anywhere from plastic surgery to medication. It is important to note that the medications are usually only effective if used in early treatments. Thus, it is a good idea to refer to the doctor when you see the first symptoms appear. Sometimes this condition might signify a more serious problem like liver cirrhosis, hypogonadism or hyperthyroidism.