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Man Boobs: A Real Problem That You Should Consider Surgery For?

September 7, 2018
April 8, 2024

If you have gynecomastia — the medical term for “man boobs” — you’re far from alone. In fact, an estimated 30% of men experience gynecomastia in their lifetime.

male breast reduction

Table of Contents

If you have gynecomastia — the medical term for "man boobs" — you're far from alone. In fact, this medical condition is common, occurring in men between 32% and 65% across all age groups. Most often,  gynecomastia resolves on its own, especially when it occurs in the infancy and puberty stages. Adult gynecomastia is more prevalent in older men [1]. 

Dr Ivan Puah, a liposuction and body sculpting doctor and Chairman of Lipo Peer Review Committee in Singapore, shares that it's pretty common in APAC, too. He adds, "the prevalence of asymptomatic gynecomastia in neonates is estimated to be between 60 and 90%. The second physiological peak of occurrence is at puberty between the ages of 10 and 16 years."

In fact, approximately 50 to 60% of adolescents have been estimated to have gynecomastia. Fortunately, most cases in the above two groups regress spontaneously, but then it seems to return, with the last peak seen in men 50 to 85 years of age, with a reported prevalence of up to 70%, reveals Dr Puah.

But even though gynecomastia is common, many men still find it embarrassing — particularly when you're more likely to hit the beach or poolside BBQ.

According to a new report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, male breast reduction surgeries are on the rise among men and have increased by 30% over the past five years, more than any other plastic surgery procedure for men.

What is gynecomastia?

"Gynecomastia is defined as a benign proliferation of glandular tissue of the breast in males, resulting in a concentric enlargement of one or both breasts. The most common cause of gynecomastia is physiological, with no specific identifiable factor. However, it can also be caused by hormone imbalance, drugs and medical illness such as tumours, liver disorders and others," Dr Puah shares.

"We suggest surgical treatment only for patients with long-lasting GM, which does not regress spontaneously or following medical therapy. The extent and type of surgery depend on the size of breast enlargement, gynecomastia type, skin laxity and the amount of adipose tissue."

Gynecomastia can be painful

Gynecomastia is more than just enlargement of the male breast tissue. The enlarged glands can cause actual physical pain, swelling, discomfort and tenderness. The condition feels like a firm rubbery mass beneath the areola when you examine your chest with your hands under medium pressure [2]. 

The circumference of the areola area may expand, and there may be nipple discharge.  

Negative psychological effects from suffering from gynecomastia

Due to the feminine appearance of gynecomastia, the condition is hard to completely hide under big baggy clothes. That is why some men with this condition resort to binding their enlarged chest to compress it as flat as possible. 

Another coping mechanism to hide their feminine-looking chest that they feel embarrassed and ashamed of, sufferers may begin slouching or crossing their arms often. They may also completely avoid social settings and even physical activities. 

In a study by Li et al., 94.8% of patients reported psychological stress because of their gynecomastia [3]. They may develop poor self-image, and low self-esteem, and may even go through depression and social anxiety.

"Male patients who suffer from gynecomastia avoid removing their shirt in public setting, such as swimming or going to the gym, to avoid judgement or ridicule. In particular, adolescents with this medical condition experience increased psychological distress, as it coincides with heightened self-awareness and peer scrutiny," explains Dr Ivan Puah, a gynecomastia doctor who has successfully treated men in Asia Pacific with gynecomastia and corrected botched gynecomastia surgeries. 

What is gynecomastia (male breast reduction) surgery?

Male breast reduction surgery is a day-surgery procedure. It is typically performed under local anaesthesia. It involves removing enlarged glandular and excess fat tissues.

Like any surgical procedure, male breast reduction surgery doesn't come without risks, such as bleeding, infection, or an adverse reaction to anaesthesia; patients may also have reduced nipple sensitivity and scarring after the surgery. Male breast reduction surgery is a permanent and successful solution to treat gynecomastia, according to a 2017 study in the Annals of Plastic Surgery, which followed a group of more than 300 men who had been surgically operated on for gynecomastia, 100% of patients in the study reported no recurrence of gynecomastia and had high levels of satisfaction post-surgery.

What to do if you're considering male breast reduction surgery  

If you are considering male breast reduction surgery in Singapore, please note that not every doctor can perform the surgery. 

Here are some articles that may help you out on how to choose the right gynecomastia doctor in Singapore:


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