Gynecomastia 101

People might talk jokingly about the concept of “man boobs.” But living with them is anything but a laughing matter. Excessive breast development is unwanted and can lead to bullying, self-confidence issues, and problems when finding a partner. It can make you feel depressed about the way you look. 

In this post, we’re going to discuss the topic of gynecomastia and how it needn’t be a permanent fixture in your life. You’ll learn what causes, why you might have it, and how you can potentially get rid of it once and for all. 


What Is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a condition that causes the chests of men and boys to swell beyond their normal size. Excessive male breast development is sometimes colloquially referred to as “man boob” because it resembles the female breast. 

Interestingly, all people – both male and female – are born with some breast tissue at birth. Women typically develop characteristic breast size and shape during puberty, whereas most men don’t. The potential remains dormant in the latter. 

For some men, however, conditions in the body can lead to glandular breast tissue formation, creating the breast size shape observed in females. 

What Causes Gynecomastia?

There are several causes of gynecomastia. These include: 

Old Age

As men advance in years, testosterone production can decline, leading to an increase in body fat and enhanced production of estrogen. Combined, these two factors can lead to changes in the physical size and the shape of the breast tissue, and lead to excessive development. 


Hormone levels in teenage boys tend to vary wildly. These fluctuations lead to a reduction in the level of testosterone and an increase in estrogen. Most young men will show signs of breast enlargement at some point during puberty. Eventually, their hormones will settle down, and their testosterone levels will stabilize around a set point. Some, however, will go on to develop gynecomastia long-term if estrogen levels remain elevated. 

Newborn Babies

Some newborn baby boys can show signs of breast development following birth if high estrogen levels pass from the mother via the placenta to the child. This effect is usually temporary and disappears in a few weeks. 


Being overweight or obese is a strong predictor for gynecomastia. Weight gain typically leads to an increase in estrogen levels, which can then provoke the development of excess breast tissue. 

The body can also deposit fat around the chest in large quantities, increasing the size and the chest beyond the physiologically normal level. 

Exercise and dieting can help reduce the size of the chest and restore hormones to their healthy, baseline level for the male sex. However, in some cases, estrogen levels will stay elevated, and breast development will remain. 

Hormonal Imbalances

For many patients, the issue is simply hormonal imbalance, perhaps because of hyperthyroidism, injury or disease affecting the testicles or certain medications. Again, if estrogen levels remain elevated and testosterone declines, there’s an increased risk that breast tissue will develop. Sometimes the root of the hormonal imbalance is not known. 

What Treatments Are There For Gynecomastia?

In general, you have two treatment options for gynecomastia: 

The first involves taking medications to adjust hormone imbalance. For example, doctors will often prescribe medication if they believe gynecomastia is the result of thyroid problems. 

The second is a surgical intervention to remove tissue from the breast area. This usually involves one of two types of procedures, depending on the severity of the case. 

  • Liposuction. Sometimes, you can reduce the size of the affected breast tissue via liposuction. Here, the surgeon makes an incision around the areola or armpit and then uses a device to remove excess fat from the chest area, helping to normalize the shape. 
  • Tissue extraction. Other gynecomastia patients require chest incisions to remove more tissue than is possible through traditional fat removal techniques. 

Do Surgical Interventions Result In Scarring? 

Many patients worry that gynecomastia surgery will result in scarring around the areas of the incision. Fortunately, the level of scarring in today’s operations is minimal. Most people will not be able to detect you’ve had surgery when you go swimming or strip off for the beach. 

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get Gynecomastia Treatment? 

In general, patients should wait until they are at least eighteen years of age before looking to get treatment for gynecomastia. For many teenage boys, the problem resolves naturally and goes away with time once they enter their early twenties. If issues remain, however, you should seek professional help and guidance. 

What Results Can You Expect From Gynecomastia Treatment? 

Surgery can yield dramatic changes in the volume and size of male breast tissue. However, the precise outcome will depend heavily on your specific case. You should, therefore, speak to a medical professional here at our clinic about the likely results.  

How Long Does Recovery From Gynecomastia Surgery Take? 

Gynecomastia surgery is a minimally-invasive operation. Surgeons only make a tiny incision in the skin for the liposuction device. For that reason, you are usually able to return to your regular life quickly. Most people fully recover in around a week. We discharge the majority of cases from the clinic immediately. Some patients with underlying health conditions may need to remain for one night for monitoring and safety reasons. 

Watch this quick video of our very own Dr. Castaneda chat about to expect after “man boob” surgery.

Will Your “Man Boobs” Return After Surgery? 

Gynecomastia surgery is a long-term treatment for man boobs, designed to prevent breast-shaped tissue from returning in the future. There are factors, however, that may lead to the re-emergence of gynecomastia. These include hormonal fluctuations, drug use, excessive weight gain, and use of steroids. 

What Benefits Can You Expect From Gynecomastia Treatment? 

Many men are prepared to swap a small scar on their chest for the elimination of breast tissue. When you get rid of your “man boobs,” you instantly feel more confident, attractive, and masculine. You feel freer in your sexual relationships, and you don’t feel like you must cover up all the time. Once they get the body they want, many men automatically put effort into maintaining the results. 

Have a question? Want to do a quick virtual “man boob” consultation with one of our Doctors? Click here

Dr. Carlos Castaneda

Dr. Carlos Castañeda is our board-certified body contouring specialist at VIDA Clinic in Tijuana. He specializes in Body Contouring, Body Reshaping, Liposculpture, Breast Surgery, Gynecomastia & more. He is certified by the Mexican Council of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, an active member of the Mexican Association of Reconstructive Plastic & Aesthetic Surgery and a member of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.