Published: January 27, 2021
Last updated: February 18, 2022
Content Reviewed by AEDIT Medical Advisory Board
When it comes to the chest it’s not just repping out a few more bench presses or hitting triple digit pushups. While large, defined pectoral muscles are not unwelcome, and men with underdeveloped pecs despite consistent exercise may wish to augment their chest area, some men do not have issues with too little muscle mass, but rather have too much soft tissue. A condition called gynecomastia can lead to the inappropriate and undesirable formation of breast tissue. Regardless of whether you’re looking to bulk up or trim down, plastic surgery procedures to alter the chest are increasing in popularity, and may be the right option for you.
What is the anatomy of the chest?
Let’s cover some anatomy basics. There’s not much difference between the male and female chest wall apart from the glandular differences that allow females to produce breast milk.
The nipple is surrounded by the circular, hyperpigmented (dark) areola. Under the chest wall skin lies a layer of subcutaneous (fat) tissue which will vary by individual depending on overall weight, health, and fitness (abnormalities here can cause excess breast tissue).
Behind the fat layer are the muscles of the chest. The main muscle is the pectoralis major. Other muscles that can indirectly contribute to chest definition are the pectoralis minor, anterior deltoid, and serratus anterior. Finally, under the muscles lie the ribs which protect the lungs and heart.
What causes Male Chest Definition issues?
A relatively prevalent concern for many American men is excess breast tissue that leads to the appearance of a more female breast in the male breast. This is known as gynecomastia and it is a common condition. The cause of gynecomastia can be an imbalance of sex hormone levels (think too much estrogen and not enough testosterone), obesity, chronic health issues (like kidney disease, liver disease, and prostate cancer), endocrine disorders (think adrenal glands and pituitary glands), anabolic steroids, illegal drugs, and medications (like tricyclic antidepressants).
There are a few different classifications and causes of gynecomastia. Pubertal gynecomastia can temporarily affect young boys at the start of puberty, and it usually self resolves. Later in life, around age 50, natural hormonal changes can cause gynecomastia like changes in older men. Breast enlargement does not always have to be permanent and sometimes breast tissue will subside without any treatment.
On the other side of things, men who experience a lack of chest size, shape, and definition secondary to insufficient muscle development or previous accidents or illnesses leading to a misshapen chest may wish to pursue augmentation procedures. Also of note, men are able to develop breast cancer as well and should be diligent in considering preventative medical advice.
What are the main concerns related to Male Chest Definition?
To keep things simple, let’s break down the major categories of male chest definition.
- Gynecomastia: A medical condition causing inappropriate and excessive development of male breast tissue leading to a more female breast appearance. Can be genetic, related to diet, drugs, medications, or chronic health problems.
- Small Chest: When you’re flat as a board even though you can bench double your bodyweight.
- Misshapen Chest: Asymmetry can develop as a result of a previous medical procedure, an accident, or a genetic deformity.
Who may wish to seek treatment for male breast definition issues?
As with most any cosmetic procedure, the decision to pursue treatment is entirely personal. If your concerns are purely cosmetic then the right time is when you are in generally good health, have reasonable expectations of the procedure, and can commit to the needed recovery time.
In the case of gynecomastia, it is most appropriate to consult your family physician to determine the underlying cause of gynecomastia. Changeable factors, like diet, weight, medications, and drug use will need to be addressed prior to considering other treatments. Blood tests will be able to assist with checking testosterone levels and estrogen levels to determine possible hormonal imbalances.
How can someone get help for Male Chest Definition issues?
So now that we know what the problem is what can we do about it?
For Large Chests:
Male Breast Reduction (Gynecomastia Surgery) is for men who wish to decrease the size of their breasts (usually due to gynecomastia). A male breast reduction surgery is an effective and well practiced procedure. During this procedure a plastic surgeon will remove excess fat tissue via liposuction to sculpt a new chest. For a deeper dive, check out our guide to Male Breast Reduction Solutions.
For Small or Deformed Chests:
Male Chest Augmentation like Pectoral Implants utilize silicone or saline filled implants to alter, refine, and define the chest appearance. Learn more in our complete guide to Male Chest Augmentation Solutions.
Men‘s health runs the gamut from chronic medical concerns to purely aesthetic cosmetic concerns. Male chest appearance is no exception, and whether you are experiencing excess breast tissue and are concerned about possible gynecomastia, or you’re tired of the gym time with no gains, a certified medical provider or plastic surgeon can help determine the best course of action for you.
To learn more about our content creation practices, visit our Editorial Process page.
AEDIT uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
‘Try on’ aesthetic procedures and instantly visualize possible results with AEDIT and our patented 3D aesthetic simulator.