What Causes Gynecomastia?


Gynecomastia is a medical term for enlarged male breasts. The condition is quite common, especially among teenage boys and older men. Gynecomastia needs to be distinguished from pure fat deposits in the chest that can mimic enlarged breasts in overweight men. In gynecomastia, the actual breast glands become enlarged. There are several different causes of this gynecomastia.


The majority of male infants are born with enlarged breast glands. These are caused by exposure to the mother's female hormones during pregnancy. Some of these male infants will even begin lactating shortly after birth. These conditions quickly resolve within a few weeks after birth and do not require treatment. Unless these conditions do not resolve by one year of age, there should be no cause for concern.

Teenage Boys

When boys start to go through puberty, they sometimes develop gynecomastia due to temporary imbalances of female and male hormones. Usually, this occurs between the ages of 12 and 14. As puberty progresses and testosterone levels increase, the gynecomastia goes away, usually within six months of its onset. Although some boys find their enlarged breasts to be embarrassing, most of these cases do not need treatment. However, if you or your loved one is suffering from gynecomastia, please consult with Dr. Timothy Katzen. Dr. Katzen will assist you in determining if your adolescent is suffering from a condition that is disrupting the normal progression of puberty, such as hypogonadism, androgen insensitivity condition, or an adrenal or testicular tumor. Also, boys and men who take anabolic steroids can develop persistent gynecomastia.

Older Men

As men pass the age of 50, around 25 percent will develop some degree of breast enlargement. In older men, there are many different causes of gynecomastia. The most common cause is simply being overweight. Fat can produce female hormones, which can trigger the breast glands to develop. Other physical conditions that can lead to the gynecomastia include:

Liver disease

Kidney disease



Hormone-secreting tumors

Poor diet

Also, a relatively lengthy list of medications can induce gynecomastia. Drugs used to treat prostate cancer, or an enlarged prostate are a common cause of the condition. Some of the medicines used to treat heartburn can also trigger the gynecomastia, as can some drugs used to treat heart conditions. In addition, excessive alcohol consumption, marijuana, heroin, and amphetamines can lead to enlarged male breasts.

Gynecomastia can be treated. In persistent cases, male breast reduction surgery can be performed to eliminate gynecomastia. If you or your loved one is troubled by enlarged male breasts, consider visiting Dr. J. Timothy Katzen to learn about your options. Dr. Katzen has offices located in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas. Contact Dr. Katzen today to schedule your gynecomastia consultation!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.