Gynaecomastia (also known as ‘man boobs’) is a non-cancerous swelling of the male breasts to a larger than normal size.

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What is gynaecomastia?

Gynaecomastia (sometimes known as ‘man boobs’) is when the male breasts swell to a larger size than is normal. It affects the breast tissue, not fat tissue, and is usually harmless, although many men find the breast area becomes tender.

Need to know

Gynaecomastia is a term to describe the swelling of the male breasts. It can affect men in other ways, including:

  • puffy nipples
  • sagging breast skin excess

The main causes are:

  • hormonal imbalance – more oestrogen than testosterone is produced
  • weight – obesity can make the male body create more oestrogen
  • age – it is more common during puberty and older age, when testosterone levels can drop

Less common causes include: ill health, medication side effects, alcohol and drug use.

Gynaecomastia is generally not a painful condition, but it can cause some tenderness. Many men find the condition embarrassing, causing stress and anxiety.

It's important to see your GP or consultant if you are worried about breast tissue growth.

The main method of diagnosing gynaecomastia is through a physical examination. Occasionally other tests, such as an X-ray, mammogram, fine needle aspiration or a core biopsy of breast tissue may also be used.

Many men find it hard to talk to a doctor about gynaecomastia. At HCA UK, our consultants understand the importance of your privacy and dignity and all examinations are carried out with utmost discretion.
As gynaecomastia is harmless, many men simply live with the condition. Others grow out of it with age or lose weight to help the condition. Sometimes, medication can help to adjust a hormonal imbalance.

For some men, breast reduction surgery is the best solution. This is generally done under general anaesthetic and usually involves moving your nipple, removing excess tissue (often with liposuction) and skin and reshaping your chest.

Our surgeons, with their expert knowledge of breast surgery, reconstruction and plastic surgery, understand how crucial it is that patients are provided with options and will discuss the best course of treatment for your individual needs.

Gynaecomastia tests & scans

Breast ultrasound scan


A type of scan that uses high-frequency sound waves to create a detailed image of your breast tissue.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.