Gynecomastia: The Truth about “Man Boobs”

Gynecomastia is the benign enlargement of the mammary gland in men. This affliction is characterized by enlarged mammary tissue which gives these men what is colloquially referred to as “man boobs.” Contrary to popular assumptions, true gynecomastia often has little to do with being overweight. Rather, it is the enlargement of the actual mammary gland that causes the swelling. With an incidence of 32% to 65% in the general population, gynecomastia is a problem that plagues a large chunk of the male population. It is also rarely discussed.

The stigmatization of this type of surgery for men is different than it is for women undergoing a similar procedure. While female breast enhancement surgery is common and usually well accepted, surgical breast alterations for men are still highly stigmatized. The boys and men who suffer from gynecomastia often do so in silence. Some men who discuss their problem with their primary physician are told to lose weight or, if they are children, told that it is “baby fat” that it will disappear with age. Other men are ashamed because they think it detracts from their masculinity. But this is changing. The most recent statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons notes that while the rate of cosmetic surgeries increased only 1% from 2013 to 2014, breast reduction in men increased 14% from 2013 to 2014.

According to Dr. Mordcai Blau, a board-certified plastic surgeon who operates the only dedicated gynecomastia center in the world, this change in attitude can be traced to a newfound confidence in the surgical procedure used to correct gynecomastia. It is only recently that plastic surgeons have realized the importance of removing the entire gland, rather than simply using a liposuction procedure to remove fat from the male breast. Removing the entire gland, not simply suctioning out fat, is what leads to a successful result in gynecomastia surgery.

Now, men who seek this procedure can be more confidence that they will obtain safe and cosmetically appealing results. In his book, Masculinity, Defined: Gynecomastia and the Search for Perfect Pecs” Masculinity, Defined: Gynecomastia and the Search for Perfect Pecs, Dr. Blau explores the reasons why men might seek out this type of surgery, as well as the emotional impact that not correcting this problem can have on the individual. Many of his patients are men who take great pride in their physique, such as bodybuilders. But not all patients are interested in body sculpting: some are adolescents who report having trouble in school due to bullying caused by their prominent breasts. No matter the patient history, age, or background, gynecomastia surgery offers a permanent solution to a problem that was once veiled in shame.

Scroll to top