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With so many men affected by gynecomastia, it should come as no surprise that there is a booming business on the internet selling herbal remedies and supplements to treat gynecomastia. Unfortunately, there is no published data confirming their effectiveness.

In fact, if you look on the website of one such product, Gynexin, you can find the following statement: "The statements made on this Web site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered through this Web site are not intended to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure, or prevent any disease."

Would you want to put something into your body that has not been tested for safety and efficacy and vetted by the FDA? And don't you think it is odd that while Gynexin ostensibly treats the disease gynecomastia, its own website states that Gynexin doesn't treat or cure any disease?

I am a member of the emerging trends task force for the plastic surgery societies, so I am very aware of all of the latest developments in plastic surgery. If there is one thing I have learned after looking at a number of products come and go, it is that if a manufacturer has a product that they know works, they will do the necessary studies to objectively document its safety and efficacy.

On the contrary, I have yet to see a product that proves safe and effective when the manufacturer promoted their product prior to completing valid scientific studies. Nothing can drive sales as much as objective data! But if a manufacturer is concerned about the quality of data, they may seek quick sales based upon a good marketing campaign.

I have no specific knowledge of Gynexin. It is certainly well-advertised throughout the internet. Yet I did a Medline search, and I was unable to find any data that substantiates its effects.

Like other supplements, Gynexin claims to work through selective weight loss of the fat cells in the chest. I see three problems with that. First, a significant part of most men's gynecomastia is glandular tissue, not just fat. So while melting fat would be an improvement for some, it would rarely solve the problem. Second, everyone knows that there really is no safe and effective weight-loss formula. Finally, there is no valid data to suggest that there is a way to selectively lose fat cells in one area of the body while sparing others. If you burn more calories than you eat, your body will use fat.

None of the non-surgical alternatives for the treatment of male breasts has had its results published in any bonafide medical journals. Like supplements for breast augmentation and penile size, herbal remedies for gynecomastia still remain unsubstantiated in the medical community. And they do not come cheap either; a one month supply of Gynexin is $70.

Surgery is indeed expensive. It entails risks, recovery, and scars. It is not for everyone. As much as I wish I could prescribe a drug that would cure my patients of this embarrassing condition, the fact remains that as of 2009, only surgery has been shown to be an effective treatment for gynecomastia.

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