Gynaecomastia is an abnormal breast development in men. It causes large male breasts or “man boobs”. While this male breast growth is benign, it can be troubling to men that want to hide male breasts. This article written by Dr. Bernard Beldholm offers some clever ways to hide man boobs, along with a surgical treatment that can fix gynaecomastia in one day.
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How common is gynaecomastia?
Gynaecomastia is surprisingly common. Nearly 25% of men develop large male breasts at some point in life. Doctor Bernard has met with hundreds of men in the last 10+ years to discuss gynaecomastia surgery. His patients have told him of some creative ways to hide gynaecomastia over the years.
How to hide man boobs
Gynaecomastia surgery can remove the abnormal breast gland. In the meantime, you might want to hide large male breasts until you can get them treated. Living with embarrassment about male breast size is unfortunate, because it can be fixed with a simple surgery. A lot of men resort to hiding enlarged breasts, sometimes for decades. Different ways that men cover up male breasts include:
1. Taping your chest down
Men with gynecomastia sometimes tape their chest down to make male breasts look smaller. Ace bandages, duct tape, even surgical tape — you name it, and Doctor Bernard has seen it.
Tape helps to force the breast tissue down so men appear to have a flatter chest. It pushes the breast tissue by compressing it. Unfortunately, it’s a temporary solution. Tight tape or bandages are uncomfortable to wear. Plus, most men find it is annoying to tape the chest all the time. Sticky tape gets stuck in chest hair, which is painful, to say the least. Taping your chest down won’t stop male breasts from growing bigger.
2. Wearing vests
Taping the chest is painful. It’s no wonder men look for alternatives to chest taping with sticky tape. Some men choose to wear vests, regardless of the summer heat or temperatures, for men living with gynaecomastia in Australia, that can be uncomfortable on a hot day.
3. Chest compression garments
Similar to tape, a compression garment can hide male breasts. It compresses the breast tissue so it looks flatter. Unlike a vest, it can be worn under clothes. The only problem is it’s very uncomfortable to wear a compression garment all the time. Australia is hot.
Compression garments can increase sweating. Some garments are breathable, but that’s not enough on the hottest days. Sweat buildup and chafing from itchy compression garments may cause skin irritation, back acne, chest acne, or skin rashes.
4. Avoiding exercise
In some men, the breast gland is so large you can see it. Some men don’t exercise because chest fat hides the gland itself. Exercise and staying fit is important. Healthy adult males need regular exercise to look and feel great. However, some men are willing to sacrifice the body they want, just so they can hide male breast size. Man boobs can take a toll on men’s confidence, so it is understandable they feel this way.
5. Wearing layers and undershirts
Some men wear multiple undershirts or layers of clothing to hide man boobs. The more layers you wear, the harder it is to notice male breast size. Thicker fabrics and knits offer more coverage than thin materials. Again, Australia gynaecomastia patients face uncomfortable heat during much of the year due to the temperature here. Wearing layers to hide breast size is not always a viable option.
6. Blazers or jackets
Like layering clothes to hide breasts, some men wear blazers or jackets. This works great in an air-conditioned office, but can be uncomfortable when it’s hot outside. However, casual jackets and suit jackets offer good coverage for enlarged male breasts.
7. Nipple covers
Some men buy nipple covers to make puffy nipples from gynaecomastia less obvious. Swollen nipples are a real problem for skinny guys with gynaecomastia. If the breast gland is larger than it should be and you don’t have enough body fat on your chest to cover it up, the nipple looks pushed outward.
Nipple covers are a cheap and convenient solution. But it is hard to find good quality nipple covers with good coverage. Adhesive nipple covers for men stay on with a special adhesive. The adhesive on nipple covers is known to irritate skin. You may have itching or redness from nipple covers. Sticky nipple covers are also not fun to remove. They pull the skin. Hair gets stuck in the adhesive. It’s painful.
What is gynaecomastia surgery? (male breast reduction)
If you’re tired of hiding large male breasts, there is hope. You can do something to stop gynaecomastia and get a flat chest. Doctor Bernard performs gynaecomastia surgery, or male breast reduction, to get rid of man boobs.
Should I be worried? What causes gynaecomastia in men?
Gynaecomastia is the benign growth of male breasts. It is more of a cosmetic concern, but it may signal an underlying problem in some men. Male breast enlargement can happen during the course of a man’s life for many reasons. There are a few possible causes of gynaecomastia, such as the following:
Medical conditions that cause gynaecomastia
In some cases, an increase in male breast size could point to an underlying medical problem that needs to be addressed. Low testosterone (also called “low T”) may be caused by certain conditions that block testosterone’s effects. A visit to your PCP is the first step you should take if you notice males breasts getting bigger. Gynaecomastia does not always mean there is a medical problem, however. There are many other known causes.
Medication and gynecomastia
Certain supplements or medications, particularly those that affect the hormones testosterone and estrogen, may also result in changing male breast size. This is known as “pharmacological gynaecomastia”. Prostate medication, Valium, over-the-counter ulcer meds, and more have been linked to changes in male breast size.
Gynaecomastia and being overweight
True gynaecomastia is caused by an overactive male breast gland. Yet there is also another type of gynaecomastia that can occur. It is known as pseudo-gynaecomastia, or “false gynaecomastia”. In men with this condition, the breast gland is not the problem. It’s caused by excess fat in the chest. A man can develop male breasts due to weight gain or changes in fat distribution. Big male breasts can be a problem from a cosmetic and body image perspective, no matter the cause.
Gynaecomastia and puberty
We know certain medical conditions and medications can cause gynaecomastia. Often, however, large male breasts are simply the result of puberty or hormonal changes throughout life, rather than a serious medical problem.
Gynecomastia can be caused by sudden changes in testosterone production, the male sex hormone. This could result in lower testosterone levels or increased estrogen levels, contributing to enlarged breasts in men.
For example, a hormonal change in puberty causes gynaecomastia to develop in some men. It is common among teens and young men in their 20s; In these cases, it is possible for gynaecomastia to go away on its own. The male sex hormones may level out as men move forward into adulthood.
Gynaecomastia and getting older
Older men are affected as well. According to Mayo Clinic’s website, 1 in 4 men between the ages of 50 and 69 have gynaecomastia due to low testosterone levels or other causes. As the years go by, men produce less testosterone. With less of the male sex hormone, breast size changes can occur. The male breast gland is affected, increasing chest size in men.
Mature men can also develop pseudo-gynaecomastia as well. Fat distribution in the body changes with age. Some people start to carry weight in their midsection or chest area. While psudo-gynaecomastia has nothing to do with a faulty male breast gland like in real gynaecomastia, it makes the male chest grow larger as fat storage increases in the chest area.
Gynaecomastia and genetics
Genetics may also play a role in gynaecomastia, or male breast development. Sometimes, for genetic reasons, men store body fat in their chest more than other people. When it’s related to body fat and the breast gland is fine, it is known as pseudo-gynaecomastia.
However, true gynaecomastia that involves an overactive breast gland may also have a genetic link. Genetic gynaecomastia is rare, but it can happen. That means it could run in families.
The most common genetic cause of gynaecomastia is a condition called Klinefelter syndrome. It is said to affect about 1 in every 550 males. What is Klinefelter syndrome? It happens when men have an extra X chromosome. This causes men to have testicles that are smaller than average. That means less testosterone production, which may lead to male breasts that are too big.
Gynaecomastia and steroid use
Steroids increase breast size in some males as well. Steroids have a devastating effect on hormones. With the male hormones out of whack, breast size increases due to steroid use are a common problem. Professional bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts often seek gynaecomastia treatment at a cosmetic surgery clinic for this reason.
Not all men use steroids illegally, and not all men with gynaecomastia are steroid abusers. Anabolic steroids and androgens may be prescribed for certain medical conditions by your doctor.
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How to stop gynaecomastia or prevent it from getting worse
It depends on the cause. If you use illegal steroids, quitting them may prevent gynaecomastia from getting worse. If you have a hormonal problem such as low T, it is worth a trip to your PCP. They may be able to sort out a hormonal issue with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Taping breasts down won’t stop male breasts from growing, but it can hide them.
Finally, another way to reduce male breast size is gynaecomastia surgery. This removes the breast gland and re-shapes male chest with a more masculine appearance. It’s a two-hour procedure that can be done in one day.