DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GYNECOMASTIA AND PSEUDOGYNECOMASTIA
Both true gynecomastia (gyno) and pseudogynecomastia cause man boobs, however the reasons for the chest swelling are very different. It is very important to recognise the difference between gynecomastia and pseudogynecomastia as the causes and solutions to each are very different. True gynecomastia is the growth of true breast glandular tissue in a man and is usually caused by an imbalance in the ‘male’ and ‘female’ hormones (testosterone and estrogen) in a man’s body. Pseudogynecomastia is the build-up of fatty tissue on a man’s chest. While this looks like boobs, the true breast glandular tissue is not enlarged. Both conditions can cause a great deal of distress to the man involved, however the causes and treatment of pseudogynecomastia is very different.
Cause of pseudogynecomastia
Pseudogynecomastia is the build-up of fat on the chest. Most men who develop pseudogynecomastia are overweight – many of them are obese. In a few men the gyno may develop despite them being a normal weight, but this is more uncommon.
When to visit a doctor
If a man develops man boobs and is worried about why this has happened or whether it is true gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia, he should discuss this with a doctor. Many men are embarrassed about the growth of man boobs, but it is very common. The first step to eliminating the problem is to understand why it has happened, and what exactly is going on. Talking to a doctor can answer these questions and rule out any worrying cause, and possible treatments can be discussed. For most men the doctor will be able to offer advice immediately; however in some cases some testing may be needed to ensure what is causing the gyno.
In some cases it is very important to arrange to see a doctor to rule out any serious causes of the swelling, including:
- Very large man boobs
- Unequal size (one side much bigger than the other)
- Pain or tenderness
- Lumpy swelling or a separate lump
- Nipple discharge
- Any other lumps (for example in the armpit)
Treatment for pseudogynecomastia
When a man is sure that his boobs are caused by pseudogynecomastia, it may be time to start thinking of ways to get rid of the problem. For some men simple reassurance is all that is needed, and they are happy to live with the swelling. For others, man boobs can cause a lot of embarrassment or distress, and they are likely to think about treatment.
As fat build-up is the underlying cause of the problem, the first advice is usually to make changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle that will help the man lose weight. In some men this may not be possible and other solutions are needed. In the few men with pseudogynecomastia and a healthy body weight, pseudogynecomastia treatment might also be desired.
There are a range of options for reducing or getting rid of man boobs caused by pseudogynecomastia:
- Compression vests
- Diet and exercise
- Pseudogynecomastia pills
For men who are worried about the physical appearance of pseudogynecomastia and want a quick solution, compression vests can help. Compression vests simply squash down the boobs, so they may improve the outward appearance of the man’s chest. They do not help to get rid of the fatty tissue.
Diet and exercise
Fat is the underlying cause of pseudogynecomastia, so getting rid of this fat is the key to getting rid of the problem. Making diet changes to reduce the man’s energy intake is obviously crucial to losing weight. In particular, cutting down the amount of fat may help in getting rid of man boobs. As well as diet, exercise will help in improving the appearance of the man’s chest. Exercises which focus on the chest area will help to build up muscle and improve the ‘look’ or contour of the chest. These specific exercises should be combined with general fitness exercises. Exercise in general increases the body’s metabolic rate and encourages it to burn more fat. For many men, diet and exercise are the only treatments that are needed to get rid of pseudogynecomastia. Of course, this does not provide an immediate solution; time and effort are needed to see results. However, losing weight and exercising more will permanently reduce man boobs and improve overall wellbeing.
Man boobs caused by pseudogynecomastia are a big problem, and there are pseudogynecomastia pills which are advertised to specifically target them. Many of these pills are available to buy on the internet without a prescription; however, as with any medication it is important to think carefully before taking them. In general, pills for man boobs are diet pills – designed to help the body lose fat. Although some will claim to specifically target chest fat, most will result in general weight loss as well. In fact, the majority of pills for pseudogynecomastia recommend the man go on a diet and increase the amount of exercise as well as take the pills. Pills for pseudogynecomastia may contain a variety of ‘active ingredients’ such as caffeine or essential fatty acids and it can be difficult to understand the differences between them. In general, all these ingredients are designed to increase the body’s metabolism or to help burn fat. Some may also encourage muscle development. While many pills claim to have only natural ingredients, side-effects are possible with any pill or treatment, and the information provided with the pills should be read carefully before the man decides to take them. Above all it is important to realise that any result from pills for gynecomastia will take time to achieve, and the best results will be seen if they are used alongside diet and exercise. It is also key to understand that pills for man boobs will not increase the muscle development of a man’s chest. While some pills claim to ‘encourage’ muscle development, this can only happen when muscle building exercises are undertaken on a regular basis. Pills may help some men deal with their man boobs, but for the majority diet and exercise alone will produce excellent and long-lasting effects.
Some men may want to consider surgery for their pseudogynecomastia. Surgery is possible and can help, but it is obviously a big step and needs to be carefully thought about. Surgery for pseudogynecomastia involves liposuction, where a probe is passed under the skin and ‘sucks out’ the fatty tissue from the problem area. As well as being an expensive option, the risks and outcomes need to be carefully considered. The surgery should be carried out by a surgeon familiar with breast reduction surgery in males – most often a plastic surgeon. It will be done under general anesthetic, meaning the man is asleep while the procedure is done. For most men surgery and the post-operative period will go smoothly, but sadly no operation is without risk and these should be discussed with the surgeon before agreeing to any procedure. Following surgery for pseudogynecomastia the man will have some pain, which will need treating with painkillers for a few days or weeks. There will be scars as a result of the procedure, although these are usually small and can be located away from the front of the chest. Possible problems include pain which is difficult to manage, infections in the wound and a poor appearance of the chest. Sometimes the area treated with liposuction can appear ‘lumpy’ after the procedure. In addition, particularly if the man gains weight, the fat can build up again over time, causing the man boobs to reappear.
Man boobs can be caused by either true or pseudogynecomastia. It is important to be clear about the difference between gynecomastia and pseudogynecomastia as well as the cause of the problem before considering treatment. Man boobs caused by pseudogynecomastia are the result of the build-up of fat on the chest. For most men, diet and exercise to reduce overall body fat and If this is not possible or a faster result is wanted, treatments are available. It is essential to understand what treatments are available, what they might achieve and the differences between them before deciding what to do. A simple compression vest will improve the outward appearance without reducing the underlying swelling. Pills designed specifically for pseudogynecomastia may encourage fat burning and yield faster results, but they are not an overnight solution and work best when combined with diet and exercise. The most radical solution is surgery. This may provide an immediate solution, but it is obviously not without risks and is often expensive. For all solutions, it is possible for man boobs to return if the man gains weight again. However, despite significant differences in the treatments available, with time and dedication to diet and exercise, excellent results are possible for most men.