True gynecomastia is a medical condition that does not respond to exercise any more than female breasts will. Loss of body fat can reduce the size of the breasts somewhat because breasts are made up partly of fat cells, but only a small amount of reduction will occur with weight loss because it is the mammary glands that are causing the breasts to swell, not the fat.
A man with gynecomastia generally has the same number of fat cells in his breasts as a man who does not have the condition, so exercise will result in the same amount of fat loss in either man. A well-toned man who has gynecomastia can be rippling with chest muscles underneath stubborn breasts that will not disappear no matter how hard he exercises. In some cases, building of the pectoral muscles can make the breasts even more prominent because of the added muscle mass beneath the enlarged mammaries.
It is not advisable to take steroids in an attempt to replace breast tissue with muscle, because first of all, it won’t work. Secondly, steroids and androgens are counterproductive and can actually cause gynecomastia to develop in the first place because they cause the body to reduce testosterone production. Lower testosterone production only contributes to the original problem, and if you stop taking these substances the condition is likely to accelerate. Steroid or hormone therapy should only be done at a doctor’s recommendation and under the close supervision of a qualified physician.
In cases of pseudo gynecomastia, where the swelling of the breasts is caused entirely by fatty tissue, breast size can be reduced by diet, exercise and weight loss. Unfortunately, once a high concentration of fatty tissue is present in the breasts, it will not disappear entirely without some assistance. The fat cells will shrink, but the same number of fat cells will always be present unless they are physically removed. Another issue that often arises in overweight men who lose large amounts of weight is sagging breasts. This occurs because the skin of the breasts has been stretched out from being enlarged, similar to the way a woman’s breast skin becomes stretched during pregnancy and while lactating. The only real remedy for this is surgery.
While exercise can help lift and tone the breasts as well as shrink the fat cells to reduce the prominence of the breasts, it has no effect on the size of the mammary glands, which are the primary cause of gynecomastia in the first place. In true cases of gynecomastia, men find exercise to have very little, if any effect at all. These individuals will benefit most from breast reduction surgery, a fairly routine procedure that can have very satisfying results.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t exercise; after all, everybody can benefit from exercise, especially if they are overweight. In cases of pseudo gynecomastia, exercise can help. However, exercise is not a viable solution to glandular gynecomastia, and expecting exercise to yield drastic results will result in disappointment.