Man Chest Fat vs Gynecomastia: How to Tell the Difference
Chest fat vs gynecomastia: How can you tell which one you have? Do you need gynecomastia surgery for either one? Can you get rid of gynecomastia with diet and exercise?
Before we answer these questions one by one, we must clarify exactly what gynecomastia is … and what it isn’t.
What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a benign condition causing male breast tissue enlargement. Sometimes referred to as having “man boobs”, gynecomastia is actually quite common. In fact, it’s the most common male breast condition in the world.
Being generally overweight or carrying more weight in your trunk and chest area is not the same as having actual gynecomastia. This condition does often involve excess fat in the pectoral region, but it also causes hard discs or lumps of glandular tissue to form behind the nipples. These firm areas must be excised in order to be permanently removed and in order for the patient’s chest to be smoothed into a more masculine contour.
Gynecomastia vs Chest Fat
You may be surprised to learn that gynecomastia and chest fat are two entirely different things. Gynecomastia is actually the presence of excess glandular breast tissue, which presents (usually) as a hard lump just behind the nipple areola complex. This excess tissue can cause pain and discomfort as well as self-consciousness for men, especially when they’re not wearing a shirt or are wearing thin clothing.
On the other hand, excess chest fat alone does not contain a hard mass. Instead, the area is simply fatty male breast tissue — similar to excess fat that might be found on one’s flanks or belly.
People often think you can figure out whether someone has gynecomastia or chest fat from gynecomastia photos alone. Unfortunately, looking at gynecomastia vs chest fat pictures may not help you much because both conditions can look quite similar. In the end, unless the gynecomastia is extreme and pictured on a man who is extremely fit otherwise, this condition often just looks like having some excess man chest fat vs gynecomastia as it is clinically defined.
The Gynecomastia Pinch Test
Many times, the gynecomastia pinch test will be performed to help your provider know if you actually have gynecomastia or just chest fat. This is a quick test that can be performed in your surgeon’s office or by you at home.
To perform the test yourself:
- Stand shirtless in front of a mirror.
- Using your thumb and forefinger, palpate gently around the nipple area, taking special care to feel behind the nipple.
- Feel for a firm or rubbery lump, which will usually be disc-shaped. It will be moveable. If you find a firm area like this, chances are you have gynecomastia.
Fat Chest vs Gynecomastia: Does It Matter for Surgery?
If it is determined that you do not have gynecomastia but you do struggle with excess chest fat, there are still steps you can take to achieve your aesthetic goals.
The issue of excess chest fat is usually due to overall weight gain. Naturally, one step you could take would be to reduce overall body fat in a healthy way with diet and exercise.
For some men, this may work. However, it won’t work for everyone.
Certain men are simply genetically predisposed to have excess body fat that accumulates in the pectoral region. When this is the case, even diet and exercise won’t necessarily help to reduce chest fat. In this case, liposuction can be employed.
Liposuction to Remove Chest Fat
Liposuction can be used to remove excess fat from nearly anywhere on the body, and it is quite commonly used to reduce chest fat. Indeed, even for many men who have actual gynecomastia, liposuction is used alongside the excision of excess glandular tissue, in order to achieve a completely smooth and masculine-looking chest.
The liposuction procedure is relatively straight forward. Local anesthesia is generally used, and the surgical treatment can be performed outpatient so that you can go home on the same day.
Your plastic surgeon will make one or more small incisions around the pectoral region. From there, they will insert a cannula to suction out the excess breast tissue and/or fat cells. The incisions will then be carefully closed, and a compression garment will frequently be employed to reduce fluid buildup and swelling.
Gynecomastia Surgery: Who Is a Good Candidate?
The best candidates for male breast reduction surgery are in good overall physical health with a healthy BMI. Patients should be nonsmokers (or plan to quit prior to surgery).
It’s also important that all serious medical conditions be ruled out or taken care of with your primary doctor or specialists before gynecomastia surgery. Because gynecomastia can be caused by a hormonal imbalance, which may be related to something more serious, we want to be sure that the root cause of your gynecomastia is addressed before simply applying a Band-aid to the situation by removing the tissue.
FAQ: Gynecomastia Surgery
What causes gynecomastia in males?
Gynecomastia is usually the result of a hormonal imbalance. Patients tend to present with one or more medical conditions and/or prescription medications that are directly linked with hormonal imbalance related gynecomastia.
Likewise, patients may struggle with gynecomastia when they have hormonal imbalances related to puberty. In some cases, the condition may be caused by the use of steroids.
How difficult is the recovery from gynecomastia surgery?
Gynecomastia surgery recovery is not too difficult. You will have some swelling, discomfort, and possible bruising. Depending on the extent of your surgery, you should be able to return to work within a week.
After one to two weeks, you can return to most of your normal activities. After about four weeks, you should be able to resume a normal exercise regimen.
Can gynecomastia surgery be covered by insurance?
Male patients often want to know how to get gynecomastia surgery covered by insurance. Unfortunately, insurance coverage for this procedure is rare.
If you think your gynecomastia surgery may be deemed medically necessary by your insurance company, contact your coverage provider and present your complaints and the documentation of your need for surgery. Your provider will make a ruling based on their specific guidelines.
Contact Us to Schedule a Consultation Appointment
Want to learn more about gynecomastia and male breast reduction surgery? Not sure whether you have excess glandular tissue that constitutes gynecomastia or just excess fat in your chest area? We can help.
Call today to book a consultation appointment with board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Smita Ramanadham. Dr. Ramanadham performs male breast reduction surgery at her practice in New Jersey and can help you achieve the aesthetic goals you’re after. Call today to schedule an appointment!