Can Gynecomastia Go Away On It’s Own (Or With Diet or Exercise)?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on January 9, 2024 No Comments


Gynecomastia is a condition characterized by the enlargement of breast tissue in males. It is important to understand that gynecomastia is not excess chest fat. Rather, gynecomastia refers to the swelling of breast tissue in males, caused by an imbalance in hormones—specifically, an increase in estrogen or a decrease in testosterone. This hormonal imbalance leads to the development of excess glandular tissue in the chest area, resulting in a more feminine contour.

Some individuals will experience gynecomastia during their teens and are lucky enough for the condition to go away after puberty. Others, however are less fortunate and their excess tissue remains into adulthood. Many men who are left with gynecomastia post-puberty ask if the excess tissue can be resolved by losing weight (dieting) or adding muscle (exercise).

What Causes Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia often arises when there is an increase in estrogen relative to testosterone levels. Estrogen, typically considered a female hormone, can be present in males at low levels. However, when the estrogen-testosterone balance shifts, it can lead to the development of glandular breast tissue in males. This can result in a more feminine appearing chest sometimes referred to as “man boobs.”

Some Forms Of Gynecomastia Will Go Away On It’s Own

During puberty, around 50-60% of adolescent boys experience some degree of gynecomastia. This occurrence, although often alarming, is largely temporary, resolving within a few months to a few years in most cases. It is considered a normal part of puberty, usually not requiring treatment.

However, beyond puberty, approximately 20% of men continue to experience gynecomastia. For some, the persistence of the condition may persist into adulthood, becoming more noticeable and potentially causing emotional distress or self-consciousness.

Diet, Exercise, and Gynecomastia

Will losing weight through dieting help with gynecomastia? While maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce your overall body fat, including excess chest fat, it will not address the excess tissue inherent of gynecomastia. This is because the enlargement of the chest is due to excess tissue and not fat; it cannot be burned off like chest fat could.

Muscle gain or toning through exercise will also not significantly improve gynecomastia. Certain exercises, like chest presses or push-ups, can help strengthen the chest muscles underneath the breast tissue but may not directly address the excess glandular tissue causing gynecomastia. In fact, chest exercises can actually cause the gynecomastia to be more prominent in appearance.

Gynecomastia Surgery: A Viable Solution

The only way to address gynecomastia that persists past puberty is through gynecomastia surgery (or male breast reduction). The procedure is highly effective as it involves removing excess glandular tissue and fat to achieve a flatter, more masculine chest contour.

The Procedure

Typically performed under general anesthesia, but in some cases can be performed under local anesthesia with oral sedation. The procedure involves making small incisions around the areola or in the natural chest creases. Through these incisions, the surgeon removes excess tissue and sculpts the chest for a more contoured appearance.

Results and Recovery

Results are often immediate and permanent, with noticeable improvement in chest contour. However, full recovery may take up to six weeks, during which swelling and bruising gradually subside. Patients are advised to avoid strenuous activities during the initial recovery period.


Before opting for surgery, it is crucial to consult a qualified plastic surgeon to assess the severity of gynecomastia and discuss the most suitable treatment plan. Factors such as overall health, expectations, and potential risks should also be considered.

Gynecomastia, while often temporary during puberty, can persist into adulthood for some men. While lifestyle changes like diet and exercise are beneficial for overall health, neither fat loss or muscle gain will address excess breast tissue. For individuals struggling with persistent gynecomastia, consulting a qualified plastic surgeon to explore surgical options can provide a path to a more confident and comfortable self-image.

Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

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