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Gynecomastia AirSculpt® Houston Male Body Contouring

Gynecomastia vs. Fat: Causes, Signs, and Treatments?

Fat guy with no t-shirt

Gynecomastia can be a man's worst enemy. Medically, this condition refers to the formation of glandular breast tissue in men and can affect all age ranges.

However, not all breast tissue is created equal. Some men may have gynecomastia, which causes the development of glandular breast tissue, while others may simply have excess chest fat.

Gynecomastia is a less common condition among males compared to that of pseudogynecomastia, which is excess fat in the breasts without the proliferation of breast glands.

Both of these can negatively affect a man's appearance, which can, in turn, hurt their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Gynecomastia and chest fat may look similar, but they have different causes and require distinct treatment approaches. In this article, we'll break down the key differences between gynecomastia and chest fat and explain how to determine which condition you have.

How Does Gynecomastia Originate in the Body?

Gynecomastia is a medical condition characterized by the development of glandular breast tissue in men. This condition occurs as a result of a decrease in testosterone, the male sex hormone, relative to estrogen, the female sex hormone. This reduction causes a hormonal imbalance, resulting in enlarged breasts.

Gynecomastia can affect one or both breasts and can occur at any age. It is most common in newborns, adolescent boys, and older men but can also affect adult men.

Symptoms of Gynecomastia Include:

  • Swollen or tender breast tissue

  • Breast tissue that feels rubbery or firm to the touch

  • Enlarged areolas (the dark area around the nipple)

  • Uneven breast tissue (one breast larger than the other)

Gynecomastia Causes and Prevention Tips 

A hormonal imbalance in the body is the leading cause of gynecomastia. This imbalance can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Natural hormone changes during puberty or aging 

  • Certain medications, such as anabolic steroids, anti-androgens, and some medicines used to treat depression, anxiety, or heart disease

  • Medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, thyroid problems, or tumors in the testicles or adrenal glands

  • Substance abuse, such as alcohol, marijuana, or heroin

  • Obesity or excess weight, which can cause an increase in estrogen production in fat cells

Ways to prevent a hormonal imbalance that could lead to gynecomastia include these three suggestions:

How is Gynecomastia Diagnosed?

If you are experiencing symptoms of gynecomastia, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history and any medications you are taking. They may also order blood tests to check your hormone levels and rule out any underlying medical conditions.

In some cases, imaging tests such as a mammogram or ultrasound may be ordered to evaluate the breast tissue and rule out breast cancer.

Is Liposuction an Effective Treatment for Gynecomastia?

The treatment options for gynecomastia depends on the underlying cause of the condition. In many cases, gynecomastia will resolve on its own without treatment. However, if an underlying medical condition or medication causes enlarged male breasts, those factors will need to be addressed.

In some cases, medications such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors may be prescribed to reduce breast tissue growth. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the glandular breast tissue.

Liposuction has traditionally been heralded as an effective surgical treatment for gynecomastia. While it has proven effective at removing large chunks of undesired fatty tissue, it nevertheless has several essential downsides. Simply put, all invasive surgical procedures are prone to risks that may have the chance of causing more psychological and physical distress than a patient felt before. 

The potential risks that may stem from gynecomastia liposuction include the following:

  • Anesthesia complications

  • Infection

  • Wound healing complications

  • Ugly scarring

  • Asymmetry

  • Damage to surrounding tissues

Psuedogynecomastia: Another Cause of Man Boobs

Standard subcutaneous breast fat, or pseudogynecomastia, is excess fat tissue in the male chest area. This condition is not caused by glandular breast tissue growth but rather by an accumulation of fat cells in the chest area.

An unhealthy lifestyle, including poor diet and lack of exercise, most commonly cause chest fat. Other factors that can contribute to chest fat include:

  • Genetics: Some people are more prone to storing fat in their chest area due to their genetic makeup.

  • Hormonal imbalances: While not as common as with gynecomastia, hormonal imbalances can also contribute to chest fat.

  • Age: As men age, their metabolism slows down, making it easier for weight gain to occur and fat to develop, including in the chest area.

Gynecomastia or Fat? How to Tell Them Apart 

As Austin-based plastic surgeon Dr. Anire Okpaku details in this video Q&A, gynecomastia is the formation of excess glandular tissue as opposed to fat. Even fit men with a six-pack can struggle with enlarged chest tissue if they have this condition.

The most reliable way to diagnose your chest fat is through a physical exam by a medical professional. Gynecomastia is characterized by the presence of glandular breast tissue, while regular chest fat is an accumulation of fat cells in the chest area.

Diagnosing chest fat is typically done through a physical exam. Your doctor may also order imaging tests such as a mammogram or ultrasound to rule out gynecomastia or other conditions.

Other than a doctor's examination, here are several signs that man boobs are caused by gynecomastia rather than standard fat:

  1. Discomfort And Tenderness In The Chest Region: Hormonal imbalances in men that result in gynecomastia and make the breast tissue swell can lead to some pain and tenderness in the chest. Excess fat in the chest does not cause symptoms like pain and sensitivity, as it is no different from carrying fat in other areas of your body. 

  2. A Rounded, Defined Appearance: Saggy skin and a lack of definition in the chest is usually the result of fat. In contrast, gynecomastia swelling results in firmer, excess breast tissue that causes the chest to appear rounder and more defined, similar to female breasts. Men with gynecomastia may also have puffy nipples due to excess estrogen. See the image below for an example of the rounded appearance that gynecomastia causes. before male chest reduction airsculpt

  3. Nipple Discharge: Fluid discharge from one or even both nipples can signal that you have gynecomastia. Still, there are various reasons nipple discharge can occur in men, including testosterone deficiency, a tumor, or breast cancer.

  4. No Reaction To Diet And Exercise: If enlarged breasts formed due to fat, diet and exercise will likely result in some reduction. Although some have stubborn pockets resistant to these efforts, most people will see at least some change in their pectoral region with regular efforts. In contrast, gynecomastia does not respond to diet and exercise. This means enlarged chests will remain the same despite your efforts.

The Most Optimal Gynecomastia Procedure: AirSculpt®

Patented AirSculpt® technology can swiftly tackle gynecomastia for good with a single, minimally invasive procedure.

AirSculpt® does not require the use of a scalpel, needle, general anesthesia, or stitches. In other words, it has completely revolutionized what liposuction does, offering a wide array of benefits, such as a comfortable experience without lengthy downtime or many of the liposuction-related risks.

Gynecomastia AirSculpt® treatment goes as follows:

  1. The surgeon employs an AirPen, a device that uses differences in air pressure to distribute topical numbing medication. The AirPen replaces the need for an injection with a large needle to numb the skin.

  2. Once the chest area is numbed correctly, a perfectly symmetrical two-millimeter-wide incision is formed with a biopsy punch tool. This step means we don't have to cut a wide incision in either pec, as is done during liposuction.  

  3. A local anesthetic is then applied through the entryway to soften the fat for a seamless and gentle extraction.

  4. The surgeon uses the patented AirSculpt® cannula to pluck the fat by the cell, a delicate process that protects the surrounding tissues.

  5. The entryway is naturally left to heal on its own with dissolvable sutures, with no stitches required. 

After AirSculpt®, all that is needed is that you wear compression garments for around two weeks to cope with minimal swelling. Recovery is a breeze, and you're able to get back to work in as little as two days. 

It should be noted that we do not perform glandular excision for gynecomastia at all of our locations; patients may need to have any excisions done beforehand, after which AirSculpt can deliver a dramatic reduction in chest fat. That said, some of our surgeons do offer minimally invasive gynecomastia surgery in which glandular removal and fat reduction take place.

At Elite Body Sculpture Houston, our primary focus isn't to sculpt your chest. Slouching to hide your chest and fearing to take off your shirt in public can hurt anyone's self-esteem. With our breast reduction surgery, we aim to sculpt your chest and boost your confidence at once.

Our minimally invasive technology seamlessly links precision results and a luxury experience. 

Call our Houston location or any of the 25+ body sculpting offices worldwide to begin a free consultation. 

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