If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably asked that yourself. We understand your concern, even your desperation to get it fixed for good. Even though gynecomastia is not a medical emergency, its effect on a person’s psychological health, emotional health, and social well-being is no joke. You probably grew tired of being self-conscious and the ridicule you’re getting from other people.
Fortunately, gynecomastia can be accurately diagnosed and it can be corrected. But to find a solution that works starts with learning more about this condition. First, you have to understand what you’re dealing with, to know how to treat it.
Do I have gynecomastia?
It’s important to ask yourself this question because not all the changes in male breast size mean you have gynecomastia. Knowing what you really have set you on the right path to finding your best options in correcting the problem.
To understand gynecomastia better, keep in mind that there’s also something called pseudogynecomastia. At first glance, both conditions may appear closely similar. But knowing what goes on underneath the skin’s surface is crucial to getting the correct treatment.
True gynecomastia occurs when your breast tissue gets overdeveloped as a result of hormonal imbalance. Pseudogynecomastia, on the other hand, is caused by excess fat accumulation.
In reality, the vast majority of men who seek gynecomastia treatment have an excess of both fat and glandular tissue in the breasts. It’s not always black and white, which is why you must consult your doctor to confirm what condition you have through a clinical assessment.
True gynecomastia is classified even further as physiologic and non-physiologic gynecomastia. Physiologic gyno is common in newborns, adolescents, and older men. It is thought to be related to an imbalance in the estrogen-testosterone ratio favoring estrogen. Meanwhile, non-physiologic gynecomastia can occur at any age as a result of a number of medical conditions (e.g., cirrhosis, hypogonadism, renal insufficiency), medication use, supplements, substance use, illicit drugs, and in rare cases, tumors.
The Gynecomastia “Pinch Test”
When you come in for a check-up, your doctor will do a “Pinch Test” as part of the physical assessment. You will be asked to lie on your back while the doctor uses his forefinger and thumb to examine the breast tissue. Doctors do this to check for a concentric, rubbery or firm mass of disk-shaped tissue, which is often movable (not fixed) and located directly beneath the areola. If the doctor finds such a tissue, then it’s an indication of true gynecomastia palpated. If not, then it is pseudogynecomastia.
Other tests can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. These include imaging tests such as a mammogram, which obtains a radiologic image of the breast tissue. There’s also a testicular ultrasound to check hormone levels, a breast ultrasound, and a CT scan.
Blood tests can also be ordered to assess the liver, kidney, and thyroid functionbecause problems in these organs can be an underlying cause. Hormone tests can also be done to determine the levels and balance of hormones.
If you exhibit symptoms of true gynecomastia, your doctor can assess its severity using a four-grade categorisation such as the one below.
How to Get Rid of Man Boobs
It is established that gynecomastia can have several causes. Now,how can you get rid of it?It is established that gynecomastia can have several causes. Now,how can you get rid of it?
Is diet and exercise enough to curb gynecomastia?
To say that diet and regular exercise can help beat gynecomastia would not be accurate. No amount of diet and exercise will get rid of overgrown breast tissue. You could be perfectly fit and still have a pronounced breast size.
However, if excess fat stores in the chest area is the cause of male breast enlargement, then switching to a healthier diet can help reduce their size. To do this, people should aim to eat a balanced meal that focuses on whole foods and nutrients.
To achieve a healthy and balanced diet, try:
- eating whole grains instead of white bread and pasta
- increasing fruit and vegetable consumption
- eating lean proteins, such as beans and fish
- minimising sodium intake
- swapping full fat dairy products for low fat versions
- avoiding processed foods and foods with added sugars
Diet works well, especially when paired with a regular exercise program. Aside from burning calories (when you’re doing cardio), chest exercises can focus on toning up the pectoral or chest muscles. Chest flys, push-ups, and bench presses are just some workouts that you can add to your routine.
However, with true gynecomastia, identifying and managing an underlying primary disorder often alleviates breast enlargement. But there are cases where the problem persists. If the gynecomastia persists even after the primary cause has been treated, medical or surgical treatment may be considered.
Some medications cancan help patients achieve a partial or complete resolution to gynecomastia. Antiestrogenic drugs, for example, are known to be effective in addressing recent-onset and tender gynecomastia. In some cases, a synthetic derivative of testosterone is also prescribed to decrease estrogen production from the testicles.
Aside from pharmacologic intervention, surgery is also another option to correct male breast enlargement. In 2020, surgeons noted that more men sought gynecomastia surgery to get rid of the man boobs they developed during the lockdown.
Generally, no treatment is required for physiologic gynecomastia. Those that occur in puberty resolves spontaneously within several weeks to 3 years, in most cases. However, breasts that go beyond 4 cm in diameter may not regress or disappear completely, and some patients may resort to surgery for cosmetic reasons.
Gynecomastia surgery or reduction mammoplasty is considered for patients with long-standing gynecomastia, higher-grade disease, or those who are unable to tolerate medications. Medical therapy in the late fibrotic stage (a duration of 12 months or longer) of gynecomastia is less likely to result in significant regression. That is why medical therapies, if used, should be tried early in the course of the condition. But if it fails, then surgery can be the next course of action, although your decision to do so should come with sound medical advice. Patients who developed excessive breast sagging due to weight loss may require extensive plastic surgery.
Gynecomastia surgery involves surgical removal of the excess glandular breast tissue through an incision in the margin of the areola and/or skin excision (in very large male breasts). In other words, the doctor will make a tiny cut around the area of the nipple, take out the unwanted breast tissue, and cut out the loose skin before stitching it all back up. To further tone the chest area, liposuction can also be done to remove excess fat. In pseudogynecomastia cases, no workup is needed, but doctors would usually advise you to maintain a healthy weight.
The diagram below is a suggested treatment approach for patients presenting with breast enlargement.
We hope that all this information has put your concerns to rest and answered your burning questions on how to get rid of man boobs. If you wish to have a more detailed discussion on the gynecomastia and gynecomastia surgery, you can schedule an appointment with Dr Daood today.