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Company logo: Elliot W. Jacobs, MD, FACS - Diplomate, American Board Of Plastic Surgery

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A Gynecomastia Myth: Exercise Can Fix It

gynecomastia new york

One of the great things about the Internet is also one of its biggest drawbacks: the variable nature of the information you can find on just about any topic, including man boobs. Our New York gynecomastia patients constantly surprise us with tales of causes, cures and more that they have found online.

One article brought to our attention recently actually perpetuates an old myth: exercise can rid you of moobs. In fact, the piece boldly proclaimed that you can now “free yourself” from gynecomastia by working out and went on to list the “best exercises” to get rid of the condition.

Unfortunately, it’s just not true. Exercise cannot cure gynecomastia.

The article in question made two incorrect assumptions. First, the author stated that gynecomastia, even when caused by a hormonal imbalance, is the result of excess fat. While patients who consult us about gynecomastia in New York often do have fat that contributes, unwanted breast tissue is almost always present as well.

The fact is that when men suffer hormonal swings – whether they’re temporary peaks and valleys which adolescents experience or an imbalance that triggers a more lasting condition – breast tissue often grows. We have seen very few cases of man boobs in which fat alone is the culprit.

The other major flaw in the article is an idea that was common decades ago: the notion of “spot reducing.” If you’re old enough, you may remember sets of exercises promoted to rid certain areas of the body of flab, and even strange devices marketed to stimulate, jiggle or otherwise prod certain parts of the body to shed fat.

Today, health professionals recognize that there’s no such thing as “spot reducing.” In order to lose love handles, beer bellies and, yes, excess fat in your chest area, you need to lose weight overall. But even when you’re successful in dropping the pounds, you can’t instruct your body about where to lose inches and where to retain them.  In truth, the only way to “spot reduce” is to have targeted liposuction on a particular area.  Toning chest muscles is a great idea, one we promote in our practice. But bench presses, push-ups and time on the rowing machine will not actually have an impact on your moobs.  In fact, it may make them worse by pushing them further outward from your chest.

In fairness to the author, there’s nothing wrong with recommending a workout like the one described in the article we’re referencing. In fact, we applaud any of our patients who decide to pursue a combination of weight training, interval training and cardiovascular exercises. We just hope most gynecomastia patients know by now that their man boobs cannot, as the author maintains, be “controlled with adequate exercise and a proper diet.”

If you have gynecomastia, the best advice we can give is to seek the counsel of a board certified plastic surgeon who’s a gynecomastia specialist. Failing that, start by visiting a website like gynecomastia.org, where you can ask questions of qualified physicians.

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