Fat or not? The difference between gynaecomastia and pseudogynaecomastia

Leamington gynaecomastiaSummer is finally here and for most of us it’s a chance to strip off the layers and enjoy the warmer weather. However, for many men the thought of revealing their chest in a tight T-shirt or baring their body round the pool or on the beach will leave them full of dread.

Gynaecomastia, also known as male breast enlargement, man boobs or moobs, is a very common condition and it is estimated that a third of men will be affected at some point in their lives. Whilst the male chest area begins to more closely resemble female breasts, the swollen appearance can be caused either by an excess of fat or tissue, or a combination of both.

‘True’ gynaecomastia results from an over-development of naturally occurring glandular breast tissue. ‘Psuedo’ gynaecomastia, on the other hand, is caused by excess fatty tissue or skin. Even if weight is lost, the skin easily become stretched and will not ‘snap’ back. So, how do you know which condition you have?

Understanding the causes of gynaecomastia

True gynaecomastia is usually caused by a hormonal imbalance; an increase in oestrogen levels or decrease in testosterone production can cause the tissue to overdevelop.

In some instances, it can be a combination of excess glandular tissue and fat, as being overweight can actually trigger true gynaecomastia as well as presenting as pseudo gynaecomastia; an enzyme that is found in adipose or fat tissue can convert androgens, the male sex hormone, into oestrogen, so an increase in adipose tissue as a result of obesity will stimulate production of this enzyme.

There are certain periods in life where hormonal changes can make you more susceptible to developing gynaecomastia. During adolescence, you will experience a number of testosterone surges and it’s estimated that over half of adolescents develop gynaecomastia, although the glandular tissue usually remains tender and will resolve after one or two years. The later years, as testosterone levels drop, is another vulnerable period and 70 per cent of men aged 50 to 60 have asymptomatic gynaecomastia.

Certain drugs can trigger gynaecomastia and account for a quarter of all cases, so if you’ve recently been prescribed medication, then see your GP and ask if it could possibly be a factor.

See a male breast reduction specialist

A plastic surgeon, experienced in body and breast surgery, is the appropriate specialist to see regarding your problem. At your consultation, they will perform an assessment of the chest area. In true gynaecomastia, there will be a mound of tissue that will feel firm when palpated. It is usually circular in shape and sits behind the nipple.

Pseudogynaecomastia will feel very different; there will be no discernable disc of tissue present and it usually doesn’t feel hard. When both excess glandular tissue and fat are present, which is often the case, careful planning is required to ensure that treatment deals with both factors.

If you are interested in discovering whether you’re suffering from true or pseudo gynaecomastia, please call 01926 436341 to book a consultation at Mr Richard Matthews’ Leamington cosmetic surgery clinic and he can offer expert and impartial advice on which surgical procedure will be most appropriate for you.