Greece to NYC: Gynecomastia Surgery Through the Years
Long before there were anabolic steroids, drugs that impacted the hormone system and other known and suspected man boob triggers, men still struggled with gynecomastia.
The term dates back to the 2nd century A.D. Galen, a Greek physician and philosopher, first used “gynecomastia” to describe “female-like breasts” he observed in some of his patients. Galen’s work advanced the field of anatomy and influenced other disciplines such as pharmacology and neurology.
Five hundred years later, Paul of Aegina described the condition as “the effeminacy of men” and performed the first recorded surgery to remove enlarged male breasts. Paul authored a comprehensive medical encyclopedia in seven volumes, detailing the surgical approach for procedures such as tonsillectomy, tracheotomy and hemorrhoidectomy as well as mastectomy. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Paul’s books covered nearly everything known in Western medicine at the time and were used throughout Europe and the Arab world for centuries.
Fast forward to the 1700’s and 1800’s. Gynecomastia surgery was performed then, but incisions and scars tended to be sizeable. In the 1940’s, U.S. surgeon Dr. Jerome P. Webster introduced an important innovation: removal of breast gland tissue via circumareolar incisions. By confining scars to the edge of the areola, this approach made gynecomastia surgery a much more viable option for plastic surgeons and their patients.
The advent of liposuction in the 1980’s moved gynecomastia surgery a big step forward. Now, in addition to surgical excision of breast gland, plastic surgeons could sculpt fat tissues. As surgeons became more experienced and adept in using the new technology, post-op results became smoother.
Our own experience with gynecomastia surgery in NYC spans three decades. We were fortunate to connect with one of the early pioneers of liposuction in the early 80’s, the French surgeon Dr. Yves-Gerard Illousz. In fact, we opened a clinic together and worked hand-in-hand for a time. This experience enabled us to be one of the first practices to use liposuction in conjunction with excision during gynecomastia procedures.
Our reputation for creating natural looking masculine contours grew and we began seeing more and more patients. To continue to perfect results and make surgery more efficient, we created our own set of instruments. For the majority of our patients, we use these semi-sharp tools to remove gland gently and suction fat at the same time. The specialized instruments minimize trauma to surrounding tissues and require tiny incisions that leave nearly invisible scars.
Innovation in the field of gynecomastia treatment continues. Today we employ fat transfer techniques to fill craters and valleys that can mar the results of male breast reduction. In addition to the 300+ guys each year who consult us about man boobs, we also see dozens of patients who seek revision of another surgeon’s work.
In our practice in NYC, gynecomastia patients are just one group we treat. We perform the spectrum of aesthetic procedures – all forms of facial plastic surgery and body contouring as well as breast surgery. But we are especially proud to help guys young and old banish their man boobs. It’s a gratifying experience for us as well as our patients!