Gynecomastia or male boobs is a common concern among men, especially those who are middle aged. Excess growth of breast tissues would result in men and boys experiencing women-like breasts and might feel awkward about it. Though gynecomastia does not pose any serious health concerns but it does impact many individuals on an emotional level. Studies show that men with gynecomastia have decreased self-confidence and a lack of social life. They also tend to avoid the gym and exercises such as swimming or running for the fear of being judged. Gynecomastia is quite common among infants and boys who are in the adolescent age. There can be slight presence of male boobs due to the fluctuation in hormonal levels and this often subsides on its own. However, gynecomastia in middle aged and older men tend to just stay the way it is. The reason to it are high estrogen levels, slower metabolism, aging and the loss of skin elasticity and firmness that makes it all the more difficult to lose the extra breast tissues.
The main reason for male boobs is the imbalance of estrogen and testosterone hormone in the male body. Estrogen is the hormone that promotes female features such as growth of breast tissue. When there is an increased production of estrogen and decreased production of testosterone, the male body begins to exhibit signs of gynecomastia. Some of the major symptoms are swelling or enlargement of the breast tissues, pain, tenderness, discharge from the nipples, lumps and may be overweight.
There can be a lot of causes for male boobs and why there will be a hormonal imbalance in the individual. Some of the reasons are:
- Thyroid, liver or kidney disorders
- Some forms of cancers especially lung and testicular cancers
- Medications such as anti-androgens (used in cancer treatment), steroids, antidepressants, antibiotics, antianxiety medicines
- Alcohol and drug
- Liver cirrhosis
- Obesity and
- Foods that are rich in estrogen
Diet and lifestyle plays a very important role in gynecomastia. Individuals who have suffered from gynecomastia during adolescence can be potentially impacted by estrogen rich foods. Food such as
- Legumes (bean family – soya bean, chickpea, beans, peanuts, green peas, kidney beans, black beans, tamarind and others)
- Excess fat and sugar – processed food that is high on sugar, fat and preservatives
- Eggs and diary (milk, cheese)
- Grains – brown rice, oatmeal, millet, popcorn, barley, whole wheat cookies, buckwheat, breads and pastas
- Protein powder
- Fish and meat
Most of these foods are rich in phytoestrogen which can increase the body’s level of estrogen and trigger the already existing symptoms and signs of gynecomastia. It is advised that individuals stay away from these food items and stick to estrogen free diet.
Individuals with gynecomastia must consult a dietician or doctor to understand the kind of food items that they must include in their diet. A diet-plan can go a long way in helping one heal gynecomastia without cosmetic or medical intervention.
Some of the foods to be considered, if you have gynecomastia are:
- Cruciferous vegetables
These vegetables are rich in vitamins such as C, E and K, folate and chemical called indole-3-carbinol. They have anti-estrogen properties and can be good for men struggling to reduce estrogen. Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, radish, kale, Brussels sprouts are cruciferous. They are rich in fiber and low in calories and can be great even for diet loss.
The curcumin in turmeric helps reduce the estrogen levels and increase the production of testosterone. There is more study needed on this to confirm the impact of curcumin. However, larger doses of curcumin are said to increase testosterone levels.
Certain mushrooms can reduce estrogen levels in the body by blocking an enzyme called aromatese. These enzymes convert testosterone to estrogen. By blocking its production, estrogen levels can go down in the person. Oyster mushrooms commonly exhibit this property.
- Citrus fruits
Fruits such as lemon, orange, grapefruit and lime are some of the most common citrus fruits. Vitamin c, quercetin and hesperidin found in these fruits help in the regulation of estrogen levels.
Other measures to ensure estrogen level is low are limiting the intake of animal products and ensuring regular exercise and intake of fruits and vegetables
Apart from diet, there are cosmetic procedures that helps get rid of gynecomastia. There are surgical and non-surgical treatments that can give men a flat chest as desired by them.
- Pills – Medications that suppress the production of estrogen such as clomiphene would be tried in individuals with mild to moderate signs of gynecomastia. These work as aromatese blockers which in turn reduces estrogen. Hormone therapy is another way of treating gynecomastia using clomiphene pills. It might take at least 6 months for the results to begin to show.
- Liposuction – This is a minimally invasive procedure done in men with lesser breast tissue but more of fat or adipose tissues. A small tube is inserted with a small cut and fat is removed by way of suction. There can be a reduction in size of the breasts by removing the excess fat. The results of liposuction might take 3 months to be visible.
- Gynecomastia surgery – Surgery is the permanent solution to fix severe cases of gynecomastia. A surgeon would remove excess breast tissues and reposition the nipple. A flat chest as desired by the patient would be the result of this treatment. The results of a gynecomastia surgery is almost immediate.
A gynecomastia treatment will require proper analysis of all the root causes and individuals must consult a qualified doctor for treatment. If a person suffers from gynecomastia due to liver, kidney or thyroid diseases or due to medications, it is important to address these concerns before going in for a male breast reduction or gynecomastia surgery.
The cost of a gynecomastia surgery in India would range between INR 60k to one lakhs. The cost of the treatment in Chennai would be above 60k. It is important to consult a board certified doctor for ensuring the best results and lesser risk of complications. Gynecomastia surgery in India is a commonly performed procedure in most cosmetic and medical clinics. A surgery comes with the risk of infection, bleeding and scarring and hence a qualified and experienced doctor must be consulted. It will take a patient a minimum of three weeks to completely recover from a gynecomastia surgery. However, in a period of 4 to 5 days the patient would be in a position to take up daily routine activities with ease.
Gynecomastia surgery before and after
Frequently Asked Questions
- How to get rid of gynecomastia naturally?
Anti-estrogen diet, regular exercise and staying away from high-fat, processed meat and food can help in reducing gynecomastia naturally.
- What can make gynecomastia worse?
Aging related hormonal changes in men and any infection or tumors on the testes or pituitary regions can worsen gynecomastia significantly. Certain medications can also cause side-effects that can worsen the disease. It is important to follow a high fiber and low fat diet routine and stay active to ensure that gynecomastia does not get worse.
- What foods cause high estrogen?
High fat food such as diary and meat are a great trigger for increasing the levels of estrogen in the body. Garlic, peaches, berries, sesame seeds, dried fruits are all rich in phytoestrogen and should be avoided.
- Does squeezing Gyno make it worse?
It is advised to stay away from squeezing the breasts. If you have nipple discharge, it is a sign of true gynecomastia and not pseudo (caused by fat tissues). Squeezing the discharge out would not make any difference to the degree of gynecomastia but can make it worse. A doctor would be able to assess and guide you in the right direction to reduce gynecomastia.
- How Bodybuilders get rid of gyno?
Bodybuilders do get gynecomastia due to the excess use of steroids to build muscles. It is important that bodybuilders chose a medical professional to get rid of gynecomastia. There is no specific remedy that helps bodybuilders treat this other than cardio and chest exercises. But these have a limitation and medical help must be chosen. Aromatese blockers and testosterone replacement therapies might be considered apart from gynecomastia surgery or liposuction.
- Can gynecomastia go away with diet?
Gynecomastia may not go away with diet but it can help the condition from worsening. Diet and exercise only help to a small extent. It is important to consult a doctor and take the right treatment for it to completely disappear. Depending on the severity of the gynecomastia in each individual, the treatment plan would vary from diet to surgery.
- Which exercise is best for gynecomastia?
Cardio exercises for burning fat and chest exercises that work on the pectoral muscles can help. Exercise such as walking, running, swimming, cycling and jogging can be great. Bench press and peck deck exercises can be great for building the chest muscles.
- What triggers gynecomastia?
Alcohol, smoking, stress and a sedentary lifestyle can quickly trigger male boobs and make it worse. Estrogen rich food and high sugar and fat intake is another important contributor for triggering gynecomastia.
- How do I get rid of puberty gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia caused at puberty often just go away on its own without any medical attention. A proper diet and exercise can aid this process. In case the male boobs stays just as it is, medical intervention might be needed. Most adolescent boys experience a sudden and slight change in their chest contour but this should subside by itself.