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Can Man Boobs Go Away?

Whether we like it or not, appearance has a significant impact on people’s self-confidence and self-esteem. For men, one of the most common yet rarely discussed confidence killers is gynecomastia, more commonly known as man boobs.

The term may sound funny, but for more than 30% of men1 who have to deal with this condition at some point in their lives, it is not a laughing matter.

But what causes man boobs? Can man boobs go away on their own? Is there a way to treat this condition?

In this article, we discuss all the pertinent facts surrounding man boobs and look at ways on how we can get rid of them.

What Is Gynecomastia or Man Boobs?

Gynecomastia, also known as man boobs, is a condition in men or boys wherein their breast tissues swell and become overlarge. The National Institute of Health defines it as the growth of testosterone glands caused by a decrease in testosterone, an increase in estrogen, or the use of several medication2.

Gynecomastia can affect men of all ages, but it is prevalent in puberty and with older men.

Types of Gynecomastia

man pitching his man boobs (Gynecomasti) issue

Glandular Gynecomastia

Glandular gynecomastia is caused by excess estrogen3.

Increased estrogen decreases testosterone production, hence, leading to fat deposits and the enlargement of glandular breast tissue.

Exercise and diet cannot correct hormonal imbalances. Therefore, it is only possible to reverse gynecomastia caused by estrogen excess by removing excess breast fat.

Fatty Gynecomastia

Pseudo-gynecomastia or fatty gynecomastia is caused by obesity—the excess fat cells accumulate in the breast area4. Unlike glandular gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissues), it is caused by fat cells enlargement in the pectoral area.

Four Grades of Man Boobs

Man boobs or gynecomastia is classified into four grades based on the severity of the condition5. Mild gynecomastia symptoms can go away on their own after some time, however, severe cases require procedures6.

It’s important to be aware of the different grades so you can take appropriate action based on your situation.

Different grade or level of man boobs

Grade 1 – Small Breast Enlargement

Grade 1 is the least severe grade. There is a small slight enlargement due to localized tissue growth around the nipples. It has an increased diameter and slight protrusion limited to the areolar region6.

The main symptom of grade 1 gynecomastia is a slight swelling in the nipple region accompanied by a change in the color of the skin. Additionally, this grade of gynecomastia is generally unnoticeable over clothes.

The enlargement is not prominent and usually doesn’t require treatment unless it persists for years.

Grade 2 – Moderate Breast Enlargement

The breast enlargement in grade 2 is moderate or mild and not confined to the nipple area. Instead, it may protrude and become visible through tight clothing.

Grade 3 – Moderate Breast Enlargement

Grade 3 gynecomastia is moderate to significant, with distinctive edges around the nipple area giving a prominent shape to the breast.

Furthermore, the expansion in the chest size is due to an increase in breast tissues and it is usually visible even over loose clothing.

Grade 4 – Marked Breast Enlargement

This is the most severe stage of gynecomastia. In this stage of gynecomastia, the nipple area shows a pronounced enlargement and a feminine appearance.

Causes of Gynecomastia or Man Boobs

Hormonal Imbalance

The most common cause of gynecomastia is an imbalance between the hormones estrogen and testosterone.

Estrogen stimulates the growth of breast tissue. All male bodies contain estrogen, but the amount is much lower than testosterone8. Additionally, this balance keeps estrogen from growing breast tissue. When hormone imbalances occur during puberty or old age, it can lead to gynecomastia.

a man pitching on his love handles fat

Obesity

Excess fat in the body disrupts hormone levels and increases the production of a hormone called leptin9. As a result, the body produces more estrogen and less testosterone.

Increased estrogen causes abnormal growth of breast tissue in men. Excess fat could therefore lead to an enlargement in the chest area and not necessarily the breast tissue.

Puberty

Hormone levels in young boys’ bodies fluctuate significantly throughout puberty10. The low testosterone levels and the rise in estrogen contribute to gynecomastia in teenage boys.

In 95% of cases, mild pubertal gynecomastia regresses spontaneously after 6 months to a year11. More than half of patients with persistent gynecomastia caused by puberty have a family history12.

an overweight boy with man boobs
image of a younger version and older version of a young man

Age

As men grow older, their bodies produce less testosterone12. This can lead to excess estrogen and enlarged breast tissue consequently.

The increase in estrogen levels can occur when older men are obese, therefore lowering their metabolism and testosterone production.

Treatment and Medications for Man Boobs

Drug-induced factors cause gynecomastia in 25% of adults12. Many drugs cause gynecomastia by exhibiting estrogen-like activity in the body or by stimulating the production of estrogens within the testicles13.

Steroids

a man taking steroids

Testosterone treatments in the form of anabolic steroids used for performance enhancements or bulking can lead to gynecomastia.

As anabolic steroids are synthetic forms of testosterone, they may convert into estrogen and increase breast size as a result.

Alcohol Intake

bottles of alcohol in a metal bucket

The liver is responsible for processing and eliminating excess estrogen in the body.

Consequently, the liver cannot perform its functions of metabolizing hormones. Androgens are converted into estrogen, resulting in excess breast growth.

Psychological Effects on Patients Struggling from Gynecomastia/ Man Boobs

The concept of masculinity related to physical appearance is more fluid than it has ever been in recent history. Therefore, a physical trait similar to a female body can still pose a problem to some. Due to pre-existing ideal body standards, gynecomastia can cause severe psychological distress as well.

With gynecomastia comes social stigmas, discomfort, and feelings of isolation. Gynecomastia has a negative impact on adolescents’ psychosocial well-being14.

There is a significant impact regardless of the severity of the condition. Patients’ self-esteem, social functioning, and mental health are therefore affected. Psychological effects of gynecomastia include body dissatisfaction, anxiety, depression, and disordered eating.

Treating Man Boobs with CoolSculpting and SculpSure

Ensoul Body Medical Clinic offers two major non-invasive body contouring techniques focusing on fat loss that can be used to treat gynecomastia: CoolSculpting and SculpSure.

CoolSculpting

coolsculpting and fat freezing on a man body reduce his belly fat

CoolSculpting, a method of Cryolipolysis, or Fat Freezing is a US FDA-approved non-invasive fat removal procedure. It utilizes the technology of vacuum pressure and low temperatures to kill stubborn pockets of fat cells in specific areas under controlled conditions.

The low temperature applied over the targeted areas causes the fat cells to crystalize and die without causing any damage to the surrounding tissues. The damaged fat cells are then naturally eliminated through the body’s natural waste disposal systems.

SculpSure

a man getting a sculpsure treatment to reduce his love handles

SculpSure is another US FDA-approved non-invasive fat removal procedure that relies on laser technology to target stubborn pockets of fat in the body. The laser-induced heat permanently kills unwanted fat cells by gently heating them, and the accompanying cooling plate ensures that the surrounding tissues remain unaffected.

The damaged fat cells are then eliminated through the body’s natural waste processes.

Conclusion

Although your physical appearance should never be a determinant of your self-confidence and self-esteem, the psychological impact of gynecomastia cannot be overlooked.

While man boobs or gynecomastia can sometimes naturally disappear, especially after puberty in young boys, it can also be permanent. Non-invasive fat removal treatments are an option for those who are looking to get rid of their man boobs without having to go under the knife.