Check yourself. Are you sure you’re not just fat? Gynecomastia — the clinical term for “man boobs” — is what happens when the male body overproduces breast tissue, creating enlarged, female-like breasts. But for some men, saggy breasts can be caused by simply carrying a little extra weight (as little as 10 to 40 pounds). The solution to the problem depends on which category you fall into. If you’ve got what feels like a golf ball or rubbery, skeet-like mass in the area beneath your nipple, that’s breast tissue. If your breasts are soft throughout, it’s fat.
If it’s fat… Fat-based moobs are still moobs. But they’re generally easier to deal with than the true gynecomastic kind. To counter, try a protein-rich, low-sugar diet (Paleo-ish), combined with regular cardio, particularly fat-blasting interval training. And lift more weights. Pectoral exercises, like kettlebell swings, pullups, pushups, dumbbell rows, and bench presses will minimize the appearance of moobs and possibly eliminate them altogether.
Eat less, but don’t go anorexic. Certain conditions can cause or exacerbate gynecomastia, including hypogonadism, cirrhosis, and malnutrition. That means starving yourself can actually make your man boobs worse.
And, good lord, sit up straight. Poor posture — too much time sitting hunched over your laptop or phone — can also cause the chest muscles to sag.
But if it’s breast tissue… Visit an endocrinologist. Clinical gynecomastia, the kind that’s made up of an excess of breast tissue, is caused by hormonal imbalance, so you’ll want your levels checked. A doctor can help figure out what’s causing the imbalance, whether there’s anything to be done about it — and the likelihood that it’ll go away.
Photo by Dan Mills, MD
Check your scrips. Certain drugs can impact hormonal balance enough to produce breast tissue. This includes some antibiotics, heart and high blood pressure medications, and antipsychotics. In fact, a number of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of men for gynecomastia side effects from the antipsychotic Risperdal. Often, stopping these medications can reverse your gynecomastia. Then again, the trade-off might be worth it. Check with your doctor.
Ditch your weed. Sorry! But many experts say a chronic pot habit is a sure path to moobs. In a number of studies lower testosterone levels have been reported in chronic marijuana users compared to nonusers, while some plastic surgeons wonder if the recent rise in interest in breast reduction surgery has anything to do with the legalization of marijuana in some states. “I’d like to see a study looking at the rise in manboobs in Colorado over the last few years,” says Laguna Beach plastic surgeon Dan Mills, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Go natural. Holistic remedies said to reduce the appearance of gynecomastia include turmeric, which is known to up testosterone levels while burning fat. Add a teaspoon or two to a cup of water or non-dairy milk three times a day. Zinc is also known to increase testosterone, while fatty acids in fish oil and flaxseeds reduce estrogen levels. Goes without saying: Check with your doctor before starting any herbal regimen.
Or go under the knife. If you’ve made an effort to lose weight and eat better and your moobs remain steadfast, surgery may be your best bet. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that more than 30,000 men underwent breast reduction procedures — a process that includes liposuction, removing excess tissue, or some combination of the two — in 2015, at an average cost of $3,600, resulting in a 94 percent patient satisfaction rate. There is minimal, if any, scarring, while new techniques, including strategic re-injection of fat into the breasts, can not only cure your manboobs but make them look exactly like Ryan Gosling’s in Crazy, Sexy, Love. Find a breast reduction specialist near you online at ASAPS.
And then go shopping. In most cases, following breast reduction surgery, you can go back to work in two or three days and get back to the gym in a few weeks. Expect your new fitted tee obsession to follow.
Or damn it, learn to love your beautiful moobs. Honestly, are they really so bad? Nobody’s perfect. Your physical imperfections — and coming to terms with them — are simply part of the human condition. We’re meat. Depending on how you view things, we’re all kind of ugly. Or beautiful. And we all decay. And die. Embrace your moobs and you embrace your humanity.
That said, you can always minimize their impact for your fellow humans who are perhaps less enlightened. Can we suggest some style tips?