What Causes Men to Develop Boobs?

It can be uncomfortable and confusing for men to notice that they are developing extra breast tissue, especially if those “man boobs” are causing physical pain. This blog discusses what man boobs are, the known causes of gynecomastia, when gynecomastia typically occurs, how common it is, and why diet and exercise alone are not enough to get rid of male breasts. 

3 Min Read:

What Are Man Boobs? 

It’s a bit ironic that body features that are celebrated in women are not in men. The appearance of enlarged breasts in men is often informally referred to as man boobs or “moobs.” Men typically have flat chests; however, some men develop gynecomastia, which causes them to have large breasts. Gynecomastia is a medical condition where men have an excess amount of breast tissue, resulting in their chests swelling and creating the appearance of breasts. In addition to enlarging the breasts, gynecomastia can also cause the chest to have hard or firm lumps. These can cause pain in the chest and extreme sensitivity in the nipples. 

Man boobs may also develop in men who are overweight and have excess fat in their chests. This is known as pseudogynecomastia, as it is not caused by excess breast tissue like gynecomastia but instead by excess fat deposits in the chest. 

What Are the Known Causes of Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia can develop in males as adolescents or adults. Adolescent gynecomastia is commonly due to an imbalance of hormones during puberty. During puberty, many hormonal changes are constantly occurring. When there is more estrogen in the body than the normal amount, gynecomastia can form. 

Sometimes, gynecomastia appears in adults because of untreated adolescent gynecomastia. Other causes of adult gynecomastia include drug use, malnutrition, low testosterone, low sperm count, tumors, and hypothyroidism. Adult gynecomastia can also form due to unknown reasons. 

When Does Gynecomastia Usually Occur? 

Adolescent gynecomastia often occurs in boys around the ages of 10 to 13. Gynecomastia that occurs during puberty may go away on its own without treatment, typically six months to two years after it first developed. Other times, pubertal gynecomastia stays, becoming firmer and causing more pain. 

If gynecomastia develops during the mid-twenties or later, it is classified as adult gynecomastia. Adults are less likely to deal with pain-related gynecomastia symptoms; however, many men dislike the appearance of enlarged breasts on their chests. 

When gynecomastia persists, surgery is the only solution to remove male breasts. Male breast reduction, also called gynecomastia surgery, is used to eliminate excess breast tissue and enlarged breasts. 

How Common Is Gynecomastia? 

Developing gynecomastia during puberty is relatively common. Around 65 percent of men are affected by gynecomastia at some point during their lifetime. 

Many men struggle with the pain, sensitivity, and overall emotional impact of gynecomastia. It can be challenging to have enlarged breasts, especially when this image does not fit the masculine demeanor that one may associate with. Gynecomastia surgery provides a solution to remove male breasts and restore a more sculpted, manly chest. 

Can Diet and Exercise Get Rid of Man Boobs? 

While many men with gynecomastia may be eager to try anything to eliminate their gynecomastia, it’s crucial to note that diet and exercise alone are not enough to remove male breasts. Regularly eating healthy foods and exercising may get rid of excess fat in the chest (pseudogynecomastia), but it won’t do anything to the excess breast tissue and skin. Only gynecomastia surgery can remove the excess breast tissue and skin, fully getting rid of male breasts. 

Schedule Your Gynecomastia Consultation in San Francisco, CA 

To learn more about gynecomastia and find out if you’re a good candidate for male breast reduction in San Francisco, CA, call (415) 898-4161 or fill out our online contact form today.


Dr. Delgado, MD is a world-recognized plastic surgeon and specialist in the treatment of male breast enlargement, also called gynecomastia. He has developed new techniques and owns and operates gynecomastia.org, which has become the largest gynecomastia forum in the world. Dr. Delgado holds the two most coveted credentials; the certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgery.

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