For many men, the thought of taking their shirt off in public can cause of wave of anxiety writes Dr Darrell Perkins, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at Sydney’s St George Private Hospital and ASAPS Member.
The beach, pool and even the change room at the gym become places to avoid.
Man boobs or male breasts can evolve at any age. Known medically as gynaecomastia, the condition often begins in peri-pubertal males at about age 15-16. In later years, up to 70 per cent of men over the age of 50 are likely to have the condition.
It’s also common in users of anabolic steroids and occurs rarely as the result of medical diseases such as testicular cancer.
For many men who I see it’s a cause of great embarrassment. I often see men in their 30’s who say they’ve battled with this since they were 15 years old. They’ve spent their life avoiding situations that involved taking their shirts off.
The cause of gynaecomastia is not known, although it’s believed to be linked to changes in hormones.
Boys around the ages of 15-16 will often begin to grow breast tissue as their hormones change with puberty. Even more confronting for patients is when one breast is larger than the other, a condition common amongst users of anabolic steroids.
Steroids pump testosterone into the body and as the testosterone breaks down, it produces oestrogen-like products that cause proliferation of breast tissue.
There’s a thousand old wives’ tales on the internet about what you can do to stop ‘man boobs’, but believe me, none of them work.
Breast surgery on gynaecomastia patients is a day surgery operation carried out under general anaesthetic. It involves removing the fat and breast tissue from the breast area, leaving the muscle intact. For men, the biggest fear about the surgery is having their mates find out.
Guys generally don’t care about the scars, but they don’t want anyone to know they’ve had breast surgery.
Young 16-year-old guys do not want their mates to know they’ve had a breast reduction. For this reason, I use a deliberate asymmetrical incision away from areola.
That way the scars look more like mole excisions or football sprig marks; there are no ‘breast incisions’ as such. Most patients make a quick recovery and are happily swimming at the beach shirtless within a week.
The good news as well, gynaecomastia is a medical condition covered by Medicare and some health funds.
However, if you do notice a lump or irregularity on your chest, your first port of call should be your GP.