Having puffy nipples as a man is not usually a medical concern, but some people dislike the appearance.
Puffy nipples in men may be the result of:
- weight gain or excess fat
- hormonal imbalances
- steroid use
In some cases, puffy nipples are the result of a condition called gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is a benign growth of male breast glandular tissue. According to one study, approximately 30% of males will have some form of gynecomastia at some point in their life.
Depending on the cause, there may be some steps that people can take to reduce the puffiness, such as improving their diet and exercising more. In other cases, surgery may be an option.
As puffy nipples are often a cosmetic concern, some people only require reassurance and counseling.
The following are some steps that people can take to help reduce puffy nipples.
When excess fat stores in the chest area are the cause of puffy nipples, making improvements in diet may help reduce their appearance.
People should aim to eat a balanced diet that focuses on whole foods and nutrients.
For a balanced diet, people can try:
- limiting sodium intake
- increasing fruit and vegetable consumption
- eating whole grains instead of white breads and pastas
- swapping full fat dairy products for low fat versions
- eating lean proteins, such as beans and fish
- avoiding processed foods and foods with added sugars
People should always speak to a doctor or nutritionist before making major dietary changes. This is particularly important if they are living with diabetes or another chronic health condition.
Along with improving the diet, exercising and trying targeted lifting routines could help reduce the appearance of puffy nipples.
Exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise, can help reduce overall fat levels. Targeted lifting routines can build muscle in specific areas of the body, such as the chest.
Although there are many programs that promise rapid weight loss, in general, people looking to lose weight and sustain that weight loss should choose programs that they can stick with for the long term.
One study that examined the role of exercise and physical activity found that weight loss is most likely to occur when a person combines a lower calorie diet with sustainable exercise. The researchers also note that in many cases, physical activity without dietary changes will only result in modest weight loss.
Some examples of cardiovascular exercises to try include:
As well as cardiovascular workouts that can help reduce overall weight, people looking to reduce the appearance of puffy nipples may consider adding chest exercises to their routine.
Chest exercises typically focus on the pectoral muscles. Strengthened pectoral and chest muscles may reduce the appearance of puffy nipples.
Some sample chest exercises to try include:
- chest flys
- bench pressing
People interested in specific programs that can strengthen the chest muscles may want to talk to a personal trainer or other fitness professional about routines that meet their needs and abilities. Getting help from a personal trainer can also help prevent injuries.
There is very little evidence to suggest that taking certain herbal supplements can help boost testosterone levels.
In some cases, boosted testosterone levels may help reduce the appearance of puffy nipples. However, this may only be the case if a person knows for sure that the puffiness is from low testosterone levels. Studies in this area are limited, so more research is necessary to make any firm claims.
One herbal supplement that may potentially have a positive impact on testosterone levels is ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera. However, most studies of ashwagandha examine its impact on male fertility, not nipple size.
An older study from 2010 found that ashwagandha supplements increased the amount of testosterone in the group of males who took them. The study did not look at the effects of the supplement on nipples or breast tissue, however.
A 2015 study looked at ashwagandha's role in exercise and strength training. Though it may not help with puffy nipples directly, the study did indicate that ashwagandha had a positive impact on increasing muscle mass.
If gynecomastia is the cause of puffy nipples, surgery may be an option. Although diet and exercise can help people with gynecomastia reduce the appearance of puffy nipples, it may not get rid of the puffiness completely.
People can speak to a doctor about the surgical procedures available to reduce the puffiness. However, insurance does not typically cover this option, as it is usually an elective procedure.
Some surgical options include:
- a tissue excision, wherein a surgeon makes small incisions to remove breast tissue
- liposuction, to remove fat but not breast tissue
- mastectomy, for more severe gynecomastia
- noninvasive fat reduction, which uses topical lasers or freezing to reduce fat stores
A doctor can help a person determine which option, if any, is best for them.
Puffy nipples are a cosmetic concern for some people. Although puffy nipples do not usually cause any physical medical problems, some people may not like their appearance, which can affect their confidence and mental well-being.
People who are interested in reducing the puffiness of their nipples may be able to do so by exercising more and making appropriate dietary changes. In other cases, surgery can help.
Anyone concerned about the appearance of their nipples can speak to a doctor about their treatment options.