Gynecomastia is the enlargement of glandular breast tissue in boys and men.
It is caused by an imbalance of estrogen and testosterone and can affect one or both breasts. This condition is most commonly seen in boys going through puberty and older men. While very rarely serious, gynecomastia can be difficult to deal with psychologically.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia can have several underlying causes. While the most common are puberty and age, several medications and underlying health problems can also cause the condition to develop.
Puberty: During puberty estrogen and testosterone levels often fluctuate. These fluctuations can result in temporarily high levels of estrogen in adolescent boys. Studies examining the prevalence of gynecomastia during puberty vary widely, with estimates as low at 4% and as high as 69%. This type of gynecomastia tends to resolve on its own within two years. When gynecomastia persists for more than two years it is considered persistent pubertal gynecomastia.
Age: The natural decline of testosterone as men age can lead some to develop gynecomastia later in life.
Medications that can cause gynecomastia include:
Gastric motility medications
Underlying health conditions that affect normal hormonal production can promote the development of gynecomastia. These include:
Tumors of the adrenal or pituitary gland
Liver failure and cirrhosis
Malnutrition and starvation
How is Gynecomastia Treated?
There are several ways to treat gynecomastia. These include watchful waiting, treating underlying health conditions, and surgical options.
Watchful Waiting and Lifestyle Change
In many cases, gynecomastia is a temporary condition that will resolve on its own. For this reason, many doctors will take a watchful waiting approach as their first response. Particularly in puberty-related cases, doctors may observe their patients on regular intervals to ensure timely resolution. If drug use or other lifestyle factors are potentially contributing to gynecomastia, doctors will work with patients to make the appropriate changes and track progress over time.
For gynecomastia that is caused by an underlying health condition like a hormonal disorder or organ failure, doctors will work with patients to get these conditions under control. In these cases, managing the underlying cause is all that is necessary to eliminate symptoms of gynecomastia. This can include organ transplant, surgical removal of tumors, or hormone replacement therapies.
For patients who develop gynecomastia as a result of treatment with specific medications, when possible, doctors will explore alternative treatment options.
In some cases, men will develop persistent gynecomastia. This can occur when hormonal imbalances do not resolve after puberty, if an underlying health condition cannot be resolved or managed effectively, or if gynecomastia-causing medical treatment cannot be discontinued, as in the case of AIDS treatment or chemotherapy. In such cases, men may opt for surgical intervention. Surgical options typically include:
Liposuction: This removed fat tissue from the breast area, but does not remove glandular breast tissue
Mastectomy: This surgery removes breast tissue. It can often be completed with very small incisions to minimize scarring.
The Role of Compression in Managing Gynecomastia
Because of the huge range of factors involved in gynecomastia, many of which may resolve over time, many men will not require surgical intervention. Even those for whom this is a permanent condition may prefer to avoid surgery for any number of personal or health reasons. In these cases, finding a means of reducing the physical symptoms of gynecomastia can significantly improve your quality of life.
Unlike most conditions that are treated with compression gear, gynecomastia is not a circulatory disorder, but rather a hormonal one. In these cases, compression gear is not used to treat the root cause of the condition, but rather provide cosmetic relief to sufferers.
How to Choose the Best Compression Shirt
Compression shirts are an excellent way to mask the symptoms of gynecomastia. While traditional athletic compression wear can be helpful, sufferers will benefit most from compression shirts made specifically to treat gynecomastia. Below is a list of the best compression shirts available for gynecomastia to help you feel more comfortable and confident.
Esteem Apparel’s Men’s Chest Compression Shirt is our top pick for reducing the appearance of gynecomastia. This shirt is designed to provide an immediate slimming effect no matter what is worn over it. Whether you’re going to the gym or the office, this discreet compression shirt will give your body a smooth, slim appearance so you can look and feel great no matter what you wear. The shirt is made of high-quality Spandex that fits tightly but offers breathability and comfort for all-day wear and does not lose its elasticity. This shirt is available in sizes M-XL.
Underworks is another great choice when it comes to high-quality compression shirts. Their Extreme Gynecomastia Chest Binder V-Tank is flexible, durable, and provides the support and compression you need to look your best. It’s advanced microfiber material helps wick away moisture to keep you cool and comfortable all day long and offers the right amount of pressure without being constrictive. It even offers SPF 50 UV protection. This shirt is available in sizes XS-3XL.
Specifically designed to reduce the appearance of gynecomastia, Gotoly’s Men’ Compression Shirt offers a double-layer design that creates highly effective, reinforced compression to smooth out your body. The nylon/Spandex blend is soft, breathable, and keeps you cool and comfortable all day long. This shirt is available in sizes S-4XL.
Eleady’s Men’s Compression Shirt is another great option for men looking to reduce the appearance of gynecomastia. The nylon/Spandex blend is strong, comfortable, and even machine washable for your convenience. It stays put when you move, keeping you comfortable and confident no matter what you’re doing or wearing. This shirt is available in sizes M-4XL.
GKVK’s Men’s Slimming Body Shaper is yet another great compression shirt option. This shirt provides excellent coverage, a discrete design, and strong compression that does not lose its elasticity. It can be worn comfortably under any type of clothing and comes in sizes M-3XL.
At the most basic level, compression gear is a category of clothing and other accessories designed to fit tightly around the skin.
Compression gear has a wide variety of applications including, medical, fitness, and personal uses such as fashion and travel, and continues to grow in popularity as athletes, doctors, patients, and regular people find more creative ways to benefit from these products.
Read our What is Compression Gear? article to get a bigger picture of the role compression gear plays in Fitness, Health, Travel, Fashion, how compression works, and what its benefits are.