Many men spend hours in the gym hoping to develop a well-defined and chiseled chest. However, despite adequate diet and exercise, some men are unable to achieve this effect. Gynecomastia is the medical term for enlarged male breasts. Commonly referred to as “man boobs,” millions of men and boys develop gynecomastia each year.
In young boys, hormone changes during puberty may cause breast enlargement, but the condition normally resolves itself over time. Later in life though, men may develop excess breast tissue, leading to enlarged breasts.
The condition usually doesn’t impact a person’s health, but for the men who are affected by it, gynecomastia can have tremendous emotional effects. Many young boys are bullied because of gynecomastia symptoms or feel embarrassed about their appearance. Likewise, men may lack self-confidence or be uncomfortable going topless in public. But, just because gynecomastia is common and harmless, doesn’t mean you have to live with it.
Cosmetic surgery can be a great solution, allowing men to regain their confidence with a more masculine chest contour. Gynecomastia surgery is safe and effective when performed by a plastic surgeon. But let’s face it: no one wants to undergo surgery if they don’t have to. The top question many men have about the procedure is if it’s really necessary. Can you fix gynecomastia without surgery? Let’s take a look.
Main Causes of Gynecomastia
To understand how plastic surgeons treat man boobs, it’s important to understand the cause of the condition. While some men develop larger than average breasts due to weight gain, true gynecomastia is not caused by fat alone.
Typically, at the root of the problem are the male and female hormones, testosterone and estrogen. All men and women have some of each hormone in their bodies naturally, but men have more testosterone and women have more estrogen. Since these hormones affect traits we identify as masculine or feminine, they can change a person’s appearance if there is an imbalance.
When a man has more estrogen than normal, he will often develop excess breast tissue. That’s why gynecomastia is especially common at certain life stages. Babies, adolescent boys, and older men are more likely to be affected by gynecomastia because hormone levels are fluctuating during these life phases.
Medical conditions, steroid use, and marijuana can also trigger the development of extra breast gland tissues.
When Gynecomastia Goes Away
The good news is that not all cases of gynecomastia are permanent. Some men and boys only experience the condition for a short time. This is especially true in teens, which is why most surgeons will suggest waiting to see if the condition resolves itself before moving forward with surgery. After a year, if the condition has not improved, surgical treatment may be appropriate.
Men with pseudo-gynecomastia (excess fat causing the appearance of male breasts) may notice that their man boobs disappear when they lose weight. Gland tissue that develops, however, is typically permanent and will require treatment.
Creams, Pills, and Other “Magic” Gynecomastia Solutions
Unfortunately, there are some cases of gynecomastia that just won’t go away on their own.
In some men, hormone levels get so imbalanced that permanent glandular breast tissue forms. While many websites offer topical treatments like creams or pill supplements that claim to resolve man boobs, these products are not proven to work and typically do nothing to resolve gynecomastia with the effectiveness that surgery can.
Gynecomastia treatments, other than surgery, are just a waste of money. While some men can see results by controlling their hormone imbalance, others will need surgery to improve the appearance of their chest.
Surgery is the only reliable method for creating a masculine chest contour and fixing gynecomastia. Unless the patient’s hormones become significantly imbalanced again later in life, the results of surgery are permanent.
About Gynecomastia Surgery
Male breast reduction is a cosmetic procedure that should only be performed by an experienced plastic surgeon. The surgeon excises any unwanted breast gland tissue and uses liposuction to remove excess fat in the chest and sculpt the area.
Patients will need to take a week or two off for recovery and avoid strenuous exercise for a month or more. A compression garment is worn during the first few weeks to support the new contours of the chest. Discomfort during the recovery period is usually minor and can be controlled with ice and medication.
Most men feel much more confident and have better self-esteem after they have healed from the surgery. They typically feel more comfortable in social and intimate situations or at the beach and no longer avoid these kinds of activities.
Treatment for Gynecomastia Without Surgery
Surgery is the best option to treat gynecomastia. Contrary to popular belief, no supplements have been scientifically proven to treat the condition. Additionally, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any medications for the treatment of gynecomastia. However, there are nonsurgical treatment options available. The following is a list of our top recommendations for non-invasive gynecomastia treatments:
Improve diet and exercise habits. Overweight people often have more fat throughout their entire body, including around their chest, than people who are not overweight. Increased body fat can also contribute to lower testosterone levels, which further contributes to gynecomastia. In many cases, improving diet and exercise habits can help reduce breast size and body fat overall.
Off-label medications. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe the breast cancer drugs raloxifene or tamoxifen as off-label treatments for gynecomastia.
Hormone treatments (testosterone therapy). As we previously mentioned, hormonal imbalances often lead to male breast development. Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can be administered in the form of injections, skin gels, or patches to boost testosterone levels and improve gynecomastia symptoms.
Reducing alcohol intake. Aside from the more obvious negative health effects, alcohol can also increase the risk of male breast enlargement.
Switching medications. If your doctor suspects that a drug you’re taking is the cause of your gynecomastia, they may decide to switch your medication or lower your dose.
Treating underlying health conditions. Treating certain underlying health conditions, such as hyperthyroidism and malnutrition, may improve mild symptoms of gynecomastia.
Learn About Your Options
Nonsurgical treatments are best for patients who have very mild gynecomastia symptoms or for men whose main issue is a high body fat percentage overall. These treatments usually target the root cause of a person’s gynecomastia, such as lifestyle changes and hormone therapy.
However, while they may be helpful for milder cases, men who suffer from moderate to severe gynecomastia may find these options ineffective for reducing excess breast tissue.
The most effective treatment for you will ultimately depend on the severity and underlying cause of your condition. In most cases, gynecomastia surgery is recommended. Surgery requires a significant commitment, but it offers certain, immediate, and permanent elimination of excess breast tissue and improvement in the chest’s appearance.
Talk with an expert plastic surgeon to learn more about the procedure and about your own candidacy. At the Aesthetic Surgery Center of Naples, FL, Dr. William Ross can help you figure out what option is best for you and your aesthetic goals, as well as financing options. Fill out our contact form & get the help you need today.