Learn How to Know if You Have Gynecomastia or Chest Fat In 5 Steps Process
Male breast enlargement causes a significant amount of psychosocial misery, uneasiness, and discomfort to people who suffer from it.
Going by the epidemiologic studies carried out in this regard, 3 out of every 10 men suffer from breast enlargement at some point of time in their lives.
Hence, it’s imperative to distinguish between various causes of such man boobs’ formation in men.
Couple of the most commonly noted conditions that manifest themselves as enlargement of breasts are pseudogynecomastia and gynecomastia.
Wondering how to know if you have gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia?
Well, both of them can be diagnosed and differentiated through radiologic imaging, blood tests, and doctor consultation.
However, before getting to that let’s understand the causes behind both.
Causes of Gynecomastia Vs. Causes of Normal Chest Fat:
Considered the most commonly observed breast disease in men, gynecomastia occurs as a result of breast tissue enlargement that’s characteristically represented by the formation of a firm or rubbery palpable tissue, extended symmetrically in an outward direction from a man’s nipple area.
When studied carefully, it’s actually a benign condition which is accompanied by the growth of male glandular breast tissue. You’d see it occurring symmetrically in both the male breasts.
The primary reason of gynecomastia in men is hormonal imbalance, wherein they experience a predominantly large amount of estrogen secretion (production) in their bodies or correspondingly a significant decrease in the synthesis of androgenic hormone (testosterone).
Estrogen is an essential human hormone responsible for the breast tissue proliferation. Anytime there is a spike in estrogen levels, it leads to consistent growth inside the breast ducts, making them enlarged and diffusely branched.
Estrogen is also responsible for the increase in the vascularity of female/male breast tissues.
The causes of such hormonal imbalance can be many, ranging from kidney disease, prolactin and estrogen produced by tumors, liver disease, hyperthyroidism and use of estrogenic medications.
It can even be caused due to increased aromatase activity in the body. Aromatase is an enzyme that is critical for estrogen synthesis.
Also commonly referred to as lipomastia, pseudogynecomastia is another type of breast condition in men wherein they witness noticeable enlargement in the chest area.
It’s widely seen in obese men and is characterized by deposition of excessive fats in both the breasts.
When analyzed and studied closely, it is found that pseudogynecomastia is a benign condition that doesn’t have the same kind of male glandular breast tissue proliferation as seen in pure gynecomastia.
Just like gynecomastia, it also happens symmetrically in both the male breasts.
The primary reason behind the occurrence of pseudogynecomastia is excessive adipose tissue. Fat cells in the human body consist of the enzyme aromatase. This enzyme catalyzes the production of estrogen from its precursors.
Patients battling obesity witness increased expression of aromatase enzyme in their fat tissues. As a result, there’s an increased conversion of estrogen precursors into estrogen inside their bodies.
The increased availability of estrogen in the body automatically stimulates extra-glandular growth inside the male breast tissues, leading to pseudogynecomastia.
Both pseudogynecomastia and gynecomastia are commonly known causes of benign male breast enlargement.
While gynecomastia is caused because of excessive estrogenic stimulation of the male breast tissues, pseudogynecomastia results from excessive fat deposits in the chest area (because of obesity).
Pseudogynecomastia gets resolved through an effective weight loss regimen.
Gynecomastia, on the other hand, is perceived as a disease that leads to hormone imbalance in the body.
While pubertal gynecomastia resolves on its own with the passage of time, other cases of gynecomastia may require medical attention.
How to Identify The SItuation on Your Own:
All men have some amount of breast tissues that respond in their own way depending on the presence of certain hormones in the body, sometimes leading to their excessive growth.
If we compare men and women, the former have much higher amounts of testosterone in their bodies all through their lives.
Women, on the other hand, constantly have high levels of estrogen in their bodies. Hence, their breasts are bigger than men.
Any time a man witnesses changes in the estrogen and testosterone levels (in his body), with a spike in the former and a drop in the latter, his breast tissues would respond appropriately (to such changes) and start getting bigger.
As discussed earlier, this type of breast tissue formation in male bodies can be socially very embarrassing and is clinically referred to as gynecomastia.
The visible effects of such condition might usually range from slight amount of puffiness in the nipple area to the formation of women-like, well-rounded large breasts.
Any time you notice that your chest area is no longer as well-shaped as it once was, it could be a case of gynecomastia.
However, as detailed above, not every case of breast enlargement is gynecomastia.
It could also be pseudogynecomastia, a condition which occurs because of excessive weight gain.
Anyone wondering how to know if you have gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia, please note there is a process to make such diagnosis.
The initial diagnosis can be made whenever you notice a certain amount of swelling up in your nipples.
Your nipples might start pointing out, followed by the same happening with the areola (the area around the nipples).
This swelling might soon spread to the entire breast area, making such formation more prominent and giving it the look of a female breast.
You can use the following 5-step approach to determine if yours is the case of gynecomastia or simple chest fat.
Step 1 – Observe if You’ve been Witnessing any Hormonal Changes Lately
You should observe if you’ve been experiencing any noticeable hormonal changes in your body of late, as they might be the cause of such unwanted breast formation.
Please note, such changes are normal during the adolescent years.
Going by familydoctor.org, an AAFP (American Academy of Family Paediatricians) run portal, as many as 65% of all the 14-year old boys experience a certain degree of breast tissue formation in their growing up years.
This formation normally resolves on its own within 1-2 years’ timeframe.
Hence, if you’re a young lad passing through the puberty stage of his life, and have noticed some enlargement in your breasts, please know it’s natural and is caused due to change in the hormone levels of your body.
Things will soon get back to normal as these hormones would self-regulate over a period of time.
On the other hand, if you’re a grown-up man who is also overweight, it could be due to fat buildup in your chest area.
Please note, anyone witnessing excessive fat deposits in his body would experience it in all the body areas, including the chest.
However, as male chest normally doesn’t have too much fat, any such deposition can become quickly apparent.
Your breast enlargement could also be the cause of hormonal changes triggered by some health condition, medication or recreational drug.
Step 2 – Examine Yourself
You must examine your chest area on your own to determine if the apparent male breasts are as a case of gynecomastia or simple chest fat.
It’s important to know what the gynecomastia-based breast enlargement looks like.
There’s a considerable difference between how chest fat deposits and breast tissue growth looks.
Breast tissue growth caused fat deposits, are much softer to touch and lead to the formation of a saggy chest (owing to the formation of the extra skin).
On the other hand, breast tissue growth because of gynecomastia is usually firmer. It appears and feels more like actual female breasts.
Step 3 – Try Spotting a Hard Lump
You should touch and feel your entire chest area and see if you can spot a hard lump.
Gynecomastia is a condition that is usually manifested in the form of a tiny lump under the nipple that gradually takes the shape of a well-grown woman-like breast.
If you do spot a hard lump, go see your doctor first. While the chances are high that it would be a benign symptom of gynecomastia, in rare cases, it could also be a case of male breast cancer.
Step 4 – Do You Feel any Soreness or Sensitivity?
Examine your entire chest again and this time around to look for any signs of tenderness or sensitivity in the same area.
Gynecomastia is usually accompanied by a certain amount of soreness too.
If you do experience some soreness in the nipples and/or in the surrounding tissues, you should meet a doctor and discuss any such pain.
He/she would be the best person to further diagnose the condition and advice appropriate pain management methods.
Step 5 – Examine Your Nipples
This last step is about thorough analysis and examination of your nipples.
Genuine cases of gynecomastia are characterized by puffy and well-erect nipples.
There’s a good chance that such swollen-up nipples could also be spotted from outside your shirt when you stand in front of a mirror, something that can be a big embarrassment in public situations.
This happens specifically because of excessive estrogen production in the body and is a definite indicator of gynecomastia.
Hence, there’s no question of doing any kind of chest fat vs. gynecomastia comparison in this case.
As in the previous step, you must visit a doctor ASAP, who’d then carry out the required tests and perhaps even an ultrasound of the chest area, to confirm gynecomastia.