6 common myths about gynecomastia or ‘man boobs’

Amaris B.

Archive Date:

November 16, 2022

People suffering from gynecomastia trawl the internet to understand it, only to find half-baked fiction and ‘cures’. We asked Dr Ivan Puah for some truth.

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Blog last updated on:

January 31, 2023

Man boobs can be a traumatising experience. This is especially true for male adolescents, though the enlarged male breast condition known as gynecomastia also affects adult men. Sufferers too embarrassed to talk about their condition often turn to the internet for answers and consolation but find myths instead. 

Gynecomastia is a medical condition usually caused by elevated oestrogen levels during puberty. It’s thought to affect around 70% of males aged 12 to 16, but is also common in adult men, especially those over 50. While it usually resolves itself as the teenager grows out of puberty, if it doesn’t go away within a year or two, chances are high that it will persist into adulthood.

People suffering from gynecomastia trawl the internet to understand it, only to find half-baked fiction and ‘cures’. We asked Dr Ivan Puah, Medical Director of Amaris B. Clinic, for some truth. Dr Puah has extensive experience in performing gynecomastia surgery and is an accredited liposuction doctor in Singapore.

Myth #1: Gynecomastia is just fat build-up 

True gynecomastia results from proliferating or growing ‘additional’ breast tissue, not fat. Losing weight through dieting or workouts will not help eliminate the excess tissue. Often confused with true gynecomastia or mixed gynecomastia is pseudogynecomastia (fake man boobs). Pseudogynecomastia occurs due to fat build-up in the breast caused by being overweight, but this condition is rarer than gynecomastia. 

Modern liposuction with MDC-Sculpt lipo technique, can treat pseudogynecomastia effectively. According to statistics and data collected by Amaris B. Clinic over years, most men suffer from mixed gynecomastia of both fat and glandular tissues.

Myth #2: Hormone imbalance is the cause

While gynecomastia is caused by hormonal imbalances – a decrease in testosterone levels and an increase in oestrogen levels – several other factors can also play a part. These include prescription drugs, alcohol abuse, age, genetics, abuse of anabolic steroids, a significant loss in body weight, and medical conditions such as testicular failure or pituitary gland disorder.

Gynecomastia grades

Myth #3: Swelling and tenderness are the only symptoms

Breast swelling with tenderness are common symptoms of gynecomastia. Apart from these, gynecomastia is also characterised by the following:  

  • A firm mound of movable tissue under the nipple 
  • Nipple discharge (fluid secretion similar to breast milk)
  • Itchy underarms and nipples 
  • A sudden feeling of unwellness, changes in sex drive and mood swings

Myth #4: Diet and exercise will reduce man boobs 

In mixed gynecomastia, diet and exercise may alter the fatty tissues to a certain degree. However, the enlarged glandular tissue will remain unaffected. Exercise may help to bulk up the pectoralis or enhance its definition, but it will not cure gynecomastia. What it does instead is to push it forward and make man boobs more pronounced.

Myth #5: Pills, low energy laser and fat freezing can help

Sadly, there is a lot of false advertising for ‘reducing’ gynecomastia; oral pills and non-invasive treatments are all over the internet. There is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims. 

Medications for weight reduction may reduce overall body fat content, but they do nothing for the glandular component of gynecomastia. Non-invasive treatments such as fat freezing or low-energy laser may reduce chest fat to a certain extent, but they won’t reduce the glandular tissue.  

Misinformation and false advertising on the internet could derail how people experience the condition and identify the correct treatment for it. Gynecomastia surgery is the only permanent solution to restore the male chest to normal, and bring enormous physical and psychological relief to patients. 

Myth #6: I can see any doctor for gynecomastia

For a proper and comprehensive evaluation, consult a liposuction doctor accredited by the Ministry of Health in Singapore who has received dedicated training in performing gynecomastia surgery. 

At Amaris B. Clinic, Dr Puah will review your medical history and perform a comprehensive physical examination, including the gynecomastia pinch test. The pinch test will determine if you suffer from true gynecomastia, mixed gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia. Dr Puah will then propose a suitable surgical approach for your unique gynecomastia condition, considering the mass of your glands, presence of fat, skin laxity, and degree of droopiness.

Considerations for gynecomastia surgery 

Generally, adolescent gynecomastia can resolve itself, but in adults, the condition requires surgical intervention. In adolescents, this medical condition becomes permanent in about five percent of cases, and gynecomastia surgery is a viable treatment option.

"A good body-sculpting doctor will treat the body like a work of art," Dr Puah shares. "The procedure is, in fact, 30% medicine and 70% art. After I remove the excess glandular and fatty tissues, the most important job is to sculpt the chest into its natural masculine form."

While you can expect some bruising and swelling in the chest area post-surgery, these can be managed well with compression. Downtime and pain are minimal with Dr Puah’s proprietary gynecomastia surgical approach; most patients describe it as being like post-workout soreness.  

Under Dr Puah's team, the procedure will be carried out in an MOH-accredited operating theatre. An anaesthesiologist takes care of patients during the surgery to ensure they're comfortable, relaxed and safe. Postoperative care is provided by a comprehensive post-surgical care team.

There is no need to carry the burden of man boobs by yourself. Gynecomastia is more common than you imagine. You are not alone, and the great news is, it is treatable. Do not delay seeking help from the right medical professional. 

About Amaris B. Clinic

Amaris B. Clinic provides custom body contouring tailored to your body type and desired outcome. The costs will vary depending on the individual's clinical condition, the complexity of the surgery and the areas to be treated.

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