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Elliot W. Jacobs, MD, FACS - Diplomate, American Board Of Plastic Surgery

Specializing in Primary &
Revision Gynecomastia Surgery

815 Park Avenue New York, NY 10021

When Gynecomastia is a Symptom

gynecomastia and Kennedy's Disease

For most guys, man boobs are “a thing” in and of themselves, a curse with no known origin or with a suspected cause such as steroid use. For others, enlarged breasts are a symptom of an underlying medical condition or disease that warrants further investigation.

We’ve written about one condition some of our New York man boobs patients present with: Klinefelter’s Syndrome. Another uncommon condition that can cause gynecomastia is Kennedy’s Disease. Here’s an overview.

Kennedy’s Disease Basics

Kennedy’s Disease (KD) is also known as spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA). According to the Kennedy’s Disease Association, it most often shows up between the ages of 30 and 50. It’s an inherited condition linked to the X chromosome—women are most often just carriers (due to a second, “protective” X) while men are usually the ones who develop symptoms.

The disease only affects about 1 in 40,000 people. Though it can be diagnosed with a simple blood test, KD can often go unidentified for years. Misdiagnosis is a frequent problem, with the symptoms being mistaken for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Multiple Sclerosis and other diseases.

Symptoms of KD

In KD, motor neurons that reach from the spine to the muscles become dysfunctional. Patients often experience twitching and cramping, and eventual weakness and wasting as muscles atrophy. Muscles in the throat can be affected, resulting in difficulty talking and swallowing.

KD also affects proper circulation of testosterone in the body. This can lead to a “feminized” appearance, including gynecomastia, scant body hair and limited muscular definition. Smaller genitals, low libido and reduced sperm count are also associated with KD.

Interestingly, the range of symptoms reported by KD patients is broad and varied. From burning foot pain to freezing cold feet, from fear of going to sleep (due to night choking) to difficulty waking up, KD patients have an amazing variety of experiences. The good news is that people with KD can expect a fairly normal lifespan since the condition progresses slowly.

Resources for Patients

More good news: there are quite a few resources available online to people with KD. For connecting with other patients and finding community, there’s a Facebook page and a well-established KD blog published by an author in Georgia. The forums on the Kennedy’s Disease Association website are full of support and advice.

There’s also a body of information sources on the Web, ranging from the highly scientific, such as the article on Medscape, to more accessible information like the SBMA pages on the Muscular Dystrophy website. A simple search engine query will reveal many other sources.

Back to the Boobs

For most patients we meet with man boobs in New York there’s no reason to panic. The vast majority of gynecomastia cases we encounter are rooted in a hormonal imbalance with no known cause. In other cases we can identify a likely trigger: steroids, medications like Propecia or other substances linked to enlarged breasts.

If a patient has additional symptoms that could indicate Klinefelter’s, Kennedy’s or another issue, we are trained to spot them. Then, a visit to additional specialists may be in order. We can treat the man boobs with a straightforward, two-hour male breast reduction procedure when and if appropriate.

We welcome patients of all kinds for a consultation to discuss man boobs in New York. We have thirty years of experience to share, and there’s never any obligation. Call us at 212-570-6080 for input on your case—we’re here to help!

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