Updated on July 7th, 2023 at 07:40 pm

When we look at our chests, especially as we get older, we might be wondering whether we have developed the dreaded man boob. Unfortunately, the “moob” is incredibly common, and most of the time, it is just a symptom of our modern, sedentary lifestyles.

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However, there is one thing that people do worry about, and that is the development of Gynecomastia on your chest.

This can be a little scary for men and can make them worry about their general health and their attractiveness to others. So, how do you know whether you have chest fat or gynecomastia? What’s the difference? 

What is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a medical condition in which excess breast tissue develops in men. It most often occurs in middle-aged to elderly men due to hormonal imbalances, although it can occur at any age. Although it can occur in boys, it is far more common in adult men.

Since both breasts and male chests have similar tissues and are formed from the same hormones, gynecomastia is often confused with breast development. However, it is not the same and comes from an imbalance of hormones rather than an introduction of other hormones over an extended period.

If you are worried about this condition, you are not alone. The first thing you should check is to make sure this is indeed breast fat and not axillary breast tissue vs armpit fat. Many men are concerned about their appearance and will seek to hide or conceal what is happening to them, even from medical professionals.

If you are currently doing this, you shouldn’t! If you hide it, you will have to keep hiding it, and it may be caused by an underlying condition. Unfortunately, this condition can be more than just some stress anxiety weight gain.

If you seek medical help, you will receive treatment that could help. Also, doctors see far worse and more embarrassing things all the time, so do yourself a favor and go get help.

Causes of gynecomastia

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Gynecomastia is mainly caused by a hormone imbalance where testosterone decreases, whether that be in your body’s production of it or whether it is simply not being used or absorbed into the body, creating an imbalance with the hormone estrogen.

Contrary to popular belief, both men and women have both and use estrogen and testosterone in their bodies. Both these hormones are critical to bodily functions, not just sexual development or sexual defining characteristics. The difference is the sheer amount of hormones each sex has.

Men have up to 20 times the level of testosterone in their bodies compared to women, and women have about 20 times more estrogen in their bodies compared to men.

So, if a hormone imbalance occurs, let’s say that the testosterone level in man has tanked, leaving only a little amount of estrogen as the other available hormone, estrogen might start becoming one of the dominant hormones in the body, causing the development of gynecomastia. So, what causes the hormone imbalance in the first place? 

Causes of hormone imbalance include:

  • Natural hormone changes: Sometimes, parts of the body begin to fail or reduce significantly. This can be perfectly natural but can cause gynecomastia. There are between 25% and 65% of men who may have this condition, but many of them will never experience the symptoms, so it doesn’t really affect many.
  • Medication: Some medications cause this condition. Steroids, Antibiotics, Anti-anxiety, Antidepressants, Chemotherapy, and more. They are trying to fix or prevent something occurring in your body, and because hormones are integral to the body’s function, the hormones will likely be affected too.
  • Drugs: Much like medication, drugs will also affect your body’s function and may cause gynecomastia.
  • Health conditions: Gynecomastia could be a cause for concern, as something may be failing in your body. We mentioned earlier that hormones are integral to the body’s function, and if they stop, something might be stopping them. This could be kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, liver failure, and so many more. If you think you have this condition, see a doctor.

Difference Between Gynecomastia and Chest Fat

Chest fat is just that: fat. It will develop because of excess fat being added to your body. This means that the chest is often soft and pliable, meaning it will sag a little or droop slightly down, just like if you are gaining belly fat.

It is also fairly easy to move around or push, even if it bounces back. Gynecomastia grows from glands in the pectoral region. This tissue will be much firmer and will often feel like a hard or rubbery lump underneath the skin. It will not sag or droop like fat does, but it is a much rounder shape and has a lot more lift and hold than fat does.

What Can You Do About Gynecomastia?

The treatments for gynecomastia are never really that easy. First, many doctors would suggest a strict diet. This will not only concretely determine whether it is gynecomastia or fat but may also find the cause of the hormone imbalance if it comes from the digestive trait.

The second thing they will try is hormone replacement therapy, where they give you the hormones you need. This is done for a lot of women going through menopause and can stop or reverse the growth of the new tissue. They may ask you to cease certain medications to see whether that would help.

The final option is the surgical option, where they perform liposuction on your chest and remove the new tissue after they determine the benefit of weight loss with liposuction. This tends to be the final option because it is expensive to do.

Although the treatments are not the easiest, they are readily available. If you are struggling, you should try one or see a professional.

Gynecomastia is common

Gynecomastia is a bit of an embarrassing condition for men, but you need to get it seen too. If it is definitely not chest fat, something may be going wrong with your body, and you need to make sure that the possibility of a serious condition developing doesn’t happen. Medical professionals will not make fun of you. They are there to help you through this. For more information and articles, be sure to explore the rest of Extra Large Living.