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Gynecomastia vs Fat: Understanding the Key Differences

Gynecomastia Vs Fat Understanding The Key Differences

Patients often come to our practice wanting treatment for gynecomastia. However, it’s not uncommon for such a patient to go home with the newfound understanding that they don’t actually have this condition — they simply have excess chest fat.

So, how can you know once and for all if it’s gynecomastia or chest fat? Let’s dive right in.

How to Know if You Have Gynecomastia vs Fat

Is gynecomastia just chest fat?

Not always. In fact, gynecomastia is a real medical condition that occurs in at least 30% of males at at least one point in their lives. The main difference between gynecomastia and chest fast is that gynecomastia generally can’t be improved by lifestyle changes. This means that while you can take care of chest fat with exercise, you can’t exercise away gynecomastia.

On the other hand, if underlying medical issues such as illness, medication use, drug use, or other related issues are causing your gynecomastia, changing or ceasing these things can often fix the problem. When that is not the case, however, gynecomastia requires surgery.

To get a better idea of the difference between gynecomastia and chest fat (pseudogynecomastia), look up some gynecomastia vs chest fat pictures. You’ll see that true gynecomastia is often an issue for men who have an otherwise physically fit body. These men are often chiseled and muscular everywhere else on their body aside from their chest.

In contrast, unwanted chest fat is typically an issue for men when they are carrying extra body fat. Therefore, losing body weight overall can sometimes correct unwanted chest fat in these men.

When it comes to trying to understand whether you suffer from gynecomastia vs fat it is important to carefully evaluate your body as discussed. A board certified plastic surgeon can also help to decide whether you suffer from gynecomastia vs fat.

What Causes Gynecomastia?

Most cases of gynecomastia are caused by low testosterone in comparison to estrogen. This can happen in a multitude of scenarios.

For example, newborn baby boys often have gynecomastia because they have a higher level of their mothers estrogen. Young men going through puberty may also have hormonal imbalances as they change into a man, which can also cause gynecomastia. In both of these cases, no action needs to be taken. The effects of gynecomastia usually go away as the hormonal imbalances fade with age.

In adult males, other factors will influence the presence of gynecomastia, including:

  • Health conditions such as kidney failure, hypogonadism, cirrhosis and liver failure, hyperthyroidism, and others
  • Taking certain medications such as anti-anxiety medications, antibiotics, anti-androgens, anabolic steroids, heart medications, ulcer medications, ADHD medications, AIDS medications, and others
  • Using illicit drugs, recreational drugs, and alcohol

How Do I Check Myself for Gynecomastia?

Unfortunately, there is no official gynecomastia test that uses the patient’s blood or other concrete markers to determine its presence vs the presence of chest fat.

One quick way to know if you have this condition is to look at your body overall. Do you have a high percentage of body fat? If so, it’s possible that your enlarged excess male breast tissue is simply a symptom of this.

On the other hand, if you are physically fit with a high muscle mass but you still have excess male breast tissue, it is more likely that gynecomastia is the underlying issue.

To know more concretely whether you have gynecomastia, we recommend having the gynecomastia pinch test performed or performing it on yourself.

How to Know if You Have Gynecomastia or Chest Fat: The Pinch Test

The gynecomastia pinch test is a simple test you can perform on yourself to find out whether you have actual gynecomastia or excess chest fat.

Start by taking your shirt off in front of the mirror. Using your thumb and finger tips,  gently pinch and palpate the breast tissue below and around the nipple and areola.

You are looking for a small, hard lump in your glandular breast tissue. If you cannot find one and the entire breast tissue is soft and squishy, you probably only have fat in your chest.

The presence of a lump (whether combined with excess fat or not) and excess glandular tissue is associated with gynecomastia. In this case, you’d want to make an appointment with a plastic surgeon who specializes in gynecomastia surgery so that you can have the lumps removed.

How to Get Rid of Psuedogynecomastia

Remember that pseudogynecomastia is the term used for extra fat, or adipose tissue, in the breasts. You won’t feel any hard lumps when you pinch around the nipple and areola with pseudogynecomastia.

If you want to know how to get rid of pseudogynecomastia, you should start by losing weight if you are overweight or obese. This can go a long way in changing your overall body composition and reducing excess fat in your breasts.

For some patients, however, body fat simply accumulates in this area easily and sticks around. It’s stubborn. In this case, a plastic surgeon can help by performing liposuction to remove the excess fat in the breast.

How to Get Rid of Gynecomastia

There are effective ways to approach gynecomastia treatment. Gynecomastia lumps can be as small as a walnut or as large as an egg. These develop in your glandular tissue. They will need to be excised from the glandular tissue with male breast reduction surgery. During male breast reduction surgery, your plastic surgeon will make a small incision in a discrete area around the areola. During the surgical treatment, they will carefully remove the lumps and perform liposuction if necessary.

Finally, at the end of your gynecomastia surgery they will close incisions. Recovery from gynecomastia surgery is generally quick and painless.

Book a Consultation Appointment With Dr. Smita

Gynecomastia Vs Chest FatIf you’re having trouble knowing whether you have gynecomastia or chest fat, you’re not alone. Excess breast tissue is a common problem for many men who want a flatter chest.

We suggest you try the gynecomastia pinch test at home to start with. If you feel a small lump or hard and tender spot beneath the nipple, contact our office. In analyzing your excess breast tissue it may be that you have gynecomastia rather than chest fat, and may be a candidate for a male breast reduction. We have solutions that can help you treat this condition and regain your confidence.

Give us a call today to schedule your appointment, learn more about gynecomastia treatment, and get back to the life you love.


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