Male Breast Enlargement May Be Common
Condition Known as Gynecomastia May Occur in Nearly Half of Men
Gynecomastia in Puberty continued...
"About 95% of the time, this [condition during puberty] will disappear
within three to six months," he says.
Another expert, Yong Bao, MD, assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology
at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, agrees that
"tincture of time" often works. The smaller the growth, the more likely
it will go away, Bao says. "After the peak of puberty, it usually goes
away," he says.
"Most teens do not need any therapy," Braunstein says. But if the
breasts are very tender and the patient is bothered by a large degree of
growth, doctors may suggest taking tamoxifen, used in breast cancer treatment,
Braunstein says. It works by interfering with the activity of estrogen on the
breast cells, thus stopping the growth. While tamoxifen is not officially
approved for this purpose, it's used "off-label," which is legal. A
course of three months of the drug is typical, he says.
About 60% of teens and adults who take tamoxifen have complete regression of
the growth, Braunstein says, citing published studies, and about 80% have at
least partial regression.
If tamoxifen does not work, male breast reduction or liposuction can be
Gynecomastia Later in Life
In older men, an imbalance of hormones is also at the root of gynecomastia,
Braunstein says. "In older men, testosterone is down, estrogen is up. There
is often an increase in body fat [which makes the condition more
A doctor should rule out tumors, breast cancer, and other problems, just as
in preteens and teens, he says. Certain drugs used for the treatment of
prostate cancer, as well as other medications, can lead to excess breast growth
If possible, doctors should switch the medication associated with the breast
growth, Braunstein says.
Other options are tamoxifen or surgery such as breast reduction or
liposuction to remove the excess tissue.
Treatment May Not Be Needed
"Gynecomastia is a very common problem," Braunstein says. "It's
been around a long time." If the teen or man isn't bothered by the problem?
There's no reason to treat it, he says, if other problems have been ruled
Even if a teen is bothered by the condition, immediate treatment isn't
warranted, Bao says. "We always recommend to wait."
Braunstein reports getting consultation fees from companies including Abbott
Diagnostics, Esoterix, M&P Pharma, and Novartis -- and research funds from
Procter & Gamble and BioSante.