Gynecomastia, or enlargement of breast tissue, is a common condition. It is caused by an imbalance of estrogen and testosterone, causing the glandular tissue to swell. There is a wide age range when gynecomastia can occur, starting in neonates, and then progressing to pre-teen, teen, and adult men. For neonates and pre-teens, the process usually reverses itself with little to no intervention.
In adult males, the causes of gynecomastia range more widely. Heredity can be an important factor. However, there are other factors that can cause gyencomastia, such as thyroid disease, as well as cancers of the pituitary or adrenal gland, and cancer of the liver or testis. In addition, there are drugs and medications which are associated with the development of gynecomastia. Although this is not a complete list, they include marijuana, heroin, tricyclic antidepressants, prednisone, cimetidine, Dilantin, Digoxin, Valium, and spironolactone.
If you are considering surgery for gynecomastia, you probably have already had an evaluation by your primary care physician. It is important to identify any reversible cause of gynecomastia before undergoing surgery. Surgery reduces the volume of the gland, and removes excess skin in order to create a flatter and more masculine chest.