When a man’s chest starts to grow and create an appearance of enlarged breasts, this condition is known as gynaecomastia or man-boobs. It is very common in men all across the globe. According to a survey done by the National Institute of Health (NIH), around 50% to 60% of adolescent males suffer from gynecomastia. This can happen due to abrupt hormonal changes, certain medications, underlying medical conditions, or some other reasons.
Though man boobs is not a life-threatening or painful condition, it often becomes a matter of shame for males. Many men face unnecessary teasing and sarcastic comments from their colleagues, superiors, and even subordinates. Men even feel embarrassed to seek a doctor’s help for enlarged breasts. But living with man boobs is also very challenging and bothersome.
So, today, we will focus on making people aware of the various treatment methods available for man boobs or gynecomastia.
But first, let’s understand the causes of gynecomastia and whether man boobs are actually gynecomastia or not.
Gynecomastia- Causes & Types
Gynaecomastia is a medical condition in which the breast glandular tissues in men start to grow. The key reason for this is the hormonal imbalance. Naturally, males have high levels of testosterone (male hormone) that regulate their physical characteristics. When testosterone levels start to decline, and estrogen (female hormone) levels start to rise, males develop female-like characteristics, including enlarged breasts. This hormonal balance can occur due to many reasons, including:
- Overuse of certain medications or drugs like corticosteroids
- Liver disease or some other underlying medical condition
- Excessive intake of alcohol and recreational drugs like marijuana, heroin, etc.
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Thyroid problems
All these factors contribute to the development of male breasts. But the increase in the size of male chests is not always characterized by gynecomastia. There are always possibilities that you have pseudogynecomastia, not true gynecomastia. In pseudo gynecomastia, the male chest appears like breasts only due to the accumulation of fat (adipose) tissues. In true gynecomastia, only glandular tissues are present in the male breasts.
The doctors understand this difference, and that’s why several tests are recommended to identify the problem, its cause, and the appropriate treatment method. The common diagnostic tests for gynecomastia involve CT scan, MRI scan, mammography, blood test, testicular ultrasound, and tissue biopsy if needed. The results of these tests will help the doctor to narrow down the treatment options.
Is it possible to get rid of man boobs without surgery?
This is the most common thing gynecomastia patients ask. And the answer is probably yes. As 10-25% of gynecomastia cases are caused due to medications and drugs, it is possible to treat the condition when you stop using these medicines. This will prevent the condition from progressing further and may also reverse the effects of the drugs or medicines.
However, in some cases, merely stopping the use of the drugs that cause man boobs won’t be enough. When the breast glandular tissues have grown to a considerable size, they won’t reduce on their own. Thus, you will most likely need to undergo male breast reduction surgery to get rid of man boobs once and for all.
Can exercise and diet help to reduce the size of male breasts?
Men suffering from gynecomastia often ask the doctor if it is possible to treat the condition through a combination of diet and exercise. But first, you should have proper knowledge of the anatomy of the breasts. Gynecomastia is often composed of fat (adipose tissues) and muscles (glandular tissues). These are two different systems, due to which both need to be addressed separately.
If you only have fat tissues present in the chest region (pseudogynecomastia), a complete body workout will help you to target the fat. You can start with cardiovascular exercises, like jogging, walking, swimming, cycling, etc. It can also be beneficial for you to include chest exercises, such as barbell bench press, pec deck machine, bent-forward cable crossover, etc., to reduce the chest fat to a great extent.
Alongside exercises, dieting will also be helpful to get rid of pseudogynecomastia. The small changes that you make in your normal routine can be very helpful in this scenario. To improve your dietary habits, you will have to follow the tips below:
- Minimize the intake of high-calorie foods that have low nutritional value
- Avoid sugary snacks with preservatives and artificial sweeteners
- Replace heavy protein with lean protein
- Eat whole raw fruits and vegetables
- Use low-fat cooking techniques, such as baking, boiling, or steaming
Overall, you’ll need a calorie-deficit diet to lose the fat in the chest region as well as from other parts of the body. With sheer dedication and consistency, you will be able to see the visible difference and treat pseudogynecomastia.
The unfortunate truth is that diet and exercise don’t have any positive impact on true gynecomastia as only glandular tissues are present. Exercise and diet can only enhance the shape of the breasts (glandular tissues) and stays ineffective in reducing their size.
What is the permanent way to get rid of man boobs?
If the man boobs are caused due to gynaecomastia, the best way to get rid of it is to undergo male breast reduction surgery, also known as gynecomastia surgery. With the help of the latest technological advancements, it is now possible to permanently resolve the condition in a minimally invasive manner. Most healthcare providers leverage advanced technologies to help males get rid of the man boobs effectively.
Two techniques are combined together to perform male breast reduction surgery, i.e., liposuction and gland excision (mastectomy if the tissues are cancerous).
- Liposuction- It is used to remove the fat deposits in the breasts. A chemical is injected into the breasts to numb the area, and the liposuction cannula is inserted through a tiny incision. The fat tissues are broken down and extracted using vacuum suction.
- Gland Excision- It is used to remove the breast glandular tissues. A scalpel is used to excise the glandular tissues safely without harming the surrounding muscles and organs.
Once the glandular tissues are removed entirely, there will be negligible chances that your breasts will grow again. However, there is always a possibility that you will accumulate fat in the chest region. And now you already know how to reduce the fat in the breasts.
The Bottom Line
Only men who have suffered from breast enlargement can understand how stressful and embarrassing it can be. Gynaecomastia may not be much of a physical problem, but it has an extreme effect on the male’s psychological state. Many doctors focus on resolving the physical problem but forget to address the mental issues that a patient might be facing due to enlarged breasts.
In such a scenario, it is crucial that you pay attention to your own health. Get counseling and talk to a therapist so that they can help you to cope with the problem. Also, instead of avoiding people, reach out to your family and friends to explain your situation and reduce your stress. You can also connect with other people who have or had gynaecomastia to discuss their experience and find a way to get back your self-esteem and confidence.