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 fat in their chest.
So, how can you know once and for all if it’s gynecomastia or fat? Let’s dive right in.
How to Know if You Have Gynecomastia or Fat
Is gynecomastia just 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 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 pseudogynecomastia 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, pseudogynecomastia is typically an issue for men when they are carrying extra body weight. Therefore, losing weight overall can sometimes correct pseudogynecomastia in these men.
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 an imbalance of hormones 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 hormones rebalance 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.
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 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 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. Here’s how:
How to Know if You Have Gynecomastia or 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 pseudogynecomastia.
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. If you cannot find one and the entire breast is soft and squishy, you probably only have fat in your chest.
The presence of a lump (whether combined with excess fat or not) 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 excess 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, fat simply accumulates in this area of the body 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 breasts.
How to Get Rid of Gynecomastia
If you feel small hard lumps beneath your nipples, with or without excess fat in the area, you’ll need to have surgery to remove these hard lumps.
Gynecomastia lumps can be as small as a walnut or as large as an egg. They will need to be excised. Your plastic surgeon will make a small incision in a discrete area around the areola. Then, they will carefully remove the lumps and perform liposuction if necessary.
Finally, they will close incisions. Recovery from gynecomastia surgery is generally quick and painless.
Book a Consultation Appointment With Dr. Smita
If you’re having trouble knowing whether you have gynecomastia or fat on your chest, you’re not alone. This 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. You may have gynecomastia, and we have solutions that can help you treat this condition and regain your confidence.
Give us a call today to schedule your appointment and get back to the life you love.