Gynecomastia is all about the abnormal inflation of male breasts. This is the medical term to define this abnormality often seen in the male population. In most of men all their life, having lower estrogen and higher testosterone level signifies that the breast tissue will remain small, normal and unnoticeable. In any case, if this combination of lower and higher level loses its balance due to hormonal changes, it results in a change to the breasts cells of men as it is there in women.
This abnormality is quite common especially amongst 70% of teenagers as they usually have a certain level of gynecomastia at this age. This could be due to the high estrogen levels for some time during the teenage stage that leads to enlargement of the breast tissues. There could also be some other factors responsible for this abnormal male breast enlargement:
- Abnormal and rare genetic medical conditions
- Some drugs like marijuana and steroids for bodybuilding
- Any kidney and liver ailment
- Side-effects of some prescribed drugs like medicines to treat ulcer and some specific anti-depressants
- Hormone-producing tumor
This ailment is quite common in obese and overweight people. Most of the time, this type of abnormality often subsides with loss of weight, time and change in medication.
Different types of Gynecomastia
There are mainly 4 types of gynecomastia prevalent – it could be one or two-sided, pseudogynecomastia or true – all these are segmented as per their appearance and size.
Usually, it has been noticed that gynecomastia affects both the chests, but in many conditions, it only impact single side. Often one chest starts growing before the other, and it remains a little larger than the other side of the chest.
Difference between Gynecomastia and Pseudogynecomastia
Often Pseudogynecomastia is mistaken as gynecomastia. But actually, both are different. In gynecomastia, the breast tissues are enlarged but the later one is a condition where a man will have enlarged chests or boobs but it is because of fatty tissues. It is not considered to be the breast enlargement as the breast size remains the same. Such type of abnormality is mostly seen in people who are overweight.
Stages of Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia is not a disorder that appears overnight. It has its own stages and it is evolved over time. The stages of this abnormality can be easily noticed by the person. For bilateral true gynecomastia, there are 4 different phases. This enables the doctors to understand and document the growth and the progression of the gynecomastia. It is also a fact that often different types of gynecomastia are not always same in different people. To start with, Grade one is the mildest of all, still, many men may not be comfortable with the mildest degree of gynecomastia and feel extremely embarrassing. On the other hand, there are people who are not very worried about it and they are happily living with gynecomastia described as stage three or even four also.
- Grade One – Slight enlargement of the breast cells found behind the areola
- Grade Two – In this stage, the cell breast growth reaches the areola edges where it meets with the chest wall
- Grade Three – Under this state the growth goes beyond the areola, with clear visible corners and excess skin
- Grade Four – This is the most obviously visible male breast enlargement where it has a mix of the feminization of the breast and excess skin.
The areola is the part of the chest that is pink in color and covers the nipple and its surrounding.
In the very first stage of gynecomastia, which the men can easily notice, it may appear around the nipple and with some itching sensation or thrusting the nipple. In this state of gynecomastia, people may feel a hard rubbery type tiny lump behind the nipple. It usually does not expand after the corners of the pink ‘areola’ on the chest surface. This abnormality is widely noticed in both the sides which may give some kind of discomfort but not acute pain. Being the slightest abnormality many people do not give much attention to it and happily live with this grade of gynecomastia, although for many it could actually distressing. In case the cause of this breast enlargement is not treated, it may lead to the second stage. Often physicians also do not take this grade of gynecomastia seriously and suggest only right diet and exercise, if required. Most of the surgeons would not suggest for surgery due to its limited scope of benefits due to less abnormality.
In this type of gynecomastia, the breast tissue continues to grow and cross the pink circle of the areola. The corners of impact are not visible merging with the chest wall and the swelling of the chest wall gets more prominent. This type of gynecomastia can be defined as mild to severe given the intensity of the growth. Doctors often recommend treatment for this grade due to it swelling characteristics. Every gynecomastia can be unique, hence it is suggested to take the advice of doctor or surgeon on this to treat is well in time.
The 3rd grade of gynecomastia is more prominent than 2nd grade. The corners of the breast get more visible with a clear appearance a specific angle in the skin where the breast starts bulging. Apart from this, in this grade, the redundant skin is in increased quantity. In this stage, surgery is required to normalize the bulging skin of the chest if he wants to appear normal. This could ideally be a lengthy and complex procedure which gives a long-term relief.
This level of abnormality in male boobs is the highest grade of gynecomastia. In this level, all the above-discussed features of earlier grades are included in addition to the breasts getting visibly enlarged in other words it is like feminization of the breasts. The breasts, due to its bulge, sag and noticeable changes also visible that make it appear more like a female breast. Male breast reduction surgery is the most recommended treatment for this grade of male breast enlargement where some skin is removed to get a good aesthetic result. There is no other way to get a natural look other than surgery.
The bottom line is, not all gynecomastia reaches higher grades of growth. As some women have larger breast than others similarly some men develop larger boobs than others. If any man ever notices grade 1 gynecomastia, he must not forget that for some men it is just natural. There are only some people who get larger boobs by attaining other grades of gynecomastia. But having any grade of gynecomastia could be embarrassing and may progress to higher grads.
If anyone is worried about this abnormality, he must not waste time in talking with a doctor to discuss the possible causes and the treatment of the gynecomastia in Ahmedabad.