Having “man boobs” is a serious matter for many men. In 2012, nearly 23,000 men in the United States underwent plastic surgery to get rid of their “moobs.” That’s a 30% increase from 2011.

Scientifically referred to as gynecomastia, “moobs” are caused by an imbalance between the hormones estrogen and testosterone. 

“Men have estrogen too, but not as much as women,” says Dr. Chukwuemeka of Jamachi Plastic Surgery & Medispa in Silver Spring, MD. “When testosterone levels are lowered, breast tissue may start to develop.”

Between 33% and 41% of men between the ages of 25 and 45, and 55% to 60% of men aged 50 and older, have gynecomastia.

So, what causes moobs? Some in the health and medical community are saying marijuana. Yes, gynecomastia might be linked to marijuana. There are very few human studies confirming this, but several animal studies show that the active ingredient in marijuana may result in a decrease in testosterone levels, a reduction in testicular size, and abnormalities in the form and function of sperm.

Marijuana isn’t the sole cause of “moobs” in men. Breast tissue may form from aging, kidney failure, liver disease, radiation treatment of the testicles, Klinefelter syndrome, testicular infection, thyroid function or alcohol abuse.

The treatment of gynecomastia depends on the cause. Some men opt to take medication that restores hormonal balance. Some men subscribe to a healthier, active lifestyle. Some men seek cosmetic surgery. Dr. Onyewu advises men with gynecomastia to consult a trusted physician or plastic surgeon before any treatment.

“At the end of the day, men want to look like the best version of themselves just as much as women do,” says Dr. Onyewu.

Jamachi Plastic Surgery & Medispa offers the latest in breast surgery for men and women. To learn more about breast reduction, click here.