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Can Gynecomastia Be Treated Without Surgery?

Men who experience an overdevelopment of breast tissue, known as gynecomastia, can be bothered by feelings of physical and emotional stress brought on by their chest appearance. Although gynecomastia is a very common condition, treatment options are generally not widely discussed, which may inhibit men from knowing where they may find an appropriate solution. On that same note, men with gynecomastia often wonder if the condition can be successfully treated without requiring an invasive procedure. 

Our board-certified plastic surgeon in Houston, James F. Boynton, MD, FACS, has made gynecomastia treatment a strong focus of his practice and understands the many variables associated with the condition. To answer the question as to whether surgery is always necessary, it is important to note that there are two very different types of the condition—true gynecomastia and pseudogynecomastia:

  • True gynecomastia – caused by excess glandular breast tissues
  • Pseudogynecomastia – caused by excess fatty breast tissues

Is there a way to treat true gynecomastia without surgery?

For most patients with true gynecomastia, surgery will likely be the only treatment that can effectively target and reduce excess amounts of glandular breast tissue. This is because overgrown glandular tissue will remain unaffected by approaches such as dietary changes and exercise regimens. Unfortunately, even pectoral strengthening exercises may actually exacerbate a fuller breast appearance as the emerging muscles push the expanded glandular tissues further out from the chest wall. 

Dr. Boynton notes that some medicine doctors have tried treating this with “anti-estrogen” medications, such as Tamoxifen, but anecdotally he has never seen that improve the condition, even in some that were treated that way prior to consulting with him. Ultimately, surgical excision is the only way to permanently remove excessive glandular tissue.

Is non-surgical pseudogynecomastia treatment possible?

In cases of pseudogynecomastia, some men may find that certain types of dietary adjustments and targeted chest exercises help reduce the effects of excess fat in the breasts, to some degree. Exercises including bench presses, pushups, butterfly curls, and others may be sufficient in reducing fat and building pectoral muscles. If the individual is open to a less invasive body contouring procedure, advanced liposuction/lipocontouring techniques can offer effective results to remove fat resulting from pseudogynecomastia, often with a shorter recovery time when compared to other surgical options.

To discover the best treatment for each unique case, individuals should have their chest examined for a proper diagnosis to determine the type of gynecomastia they are experiencing. Since gynecomastia can be linked to feelings of anxiety, depression, embarrassment, and low self-esteem, it is critical not to ignore these symptoms. Finding the right technique for a flatter, firmer chest appearance can be an essential part of improving one’s overall well-being and quality of life. Whether the solution is surgical or non-surgical, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with nutritious foods, regular activity, and avoiding certain substances that have been associated with the possible development of gynecomastia (such as anabolic steroids, alcohol, and marijuana) may help to minimize the condition overall and the risk of future breast growth. 

To learn more about methods to address gynecomastia—including Dr. Boynton’s innovative gynecomastia surgery techniques—or to schedule a personal consultation, please contact us today.