How Bad Are My Man Boobs?
How bad are my man boobs? How does my case look in relation to other patients you treat?
These are frequent questions we field from men with gynecomastia in the NY area. The shortest answer we can give is, “If they bother you enough to consider surgery, they’re bad.”
We always go on to a longer discussion with each man we meet, of course, and we do understand that patients often feel the need to put their case in some kind of context. It is sometimes helpful for men to compare their body to others in deciding whether to elect male breast reduction surgery.
A few classification systems have been developed over the years. One of the earliest schemes, created by Simon, Hoffman and Kahn in 1973, groups cases as follows:
Grade 1: Small enlargement, no skin excess
Grade 2a: Moderate enlargement, no skin excess
Grade 2b: Moderate enlargement with extra skin
Grade 3: Marked enlargement with extra skin
This system and two others are explained in detail in a chapter of the textbook Grabb and Smith’s Plastic Surgery by Charles H. Thorne. Read more about classification here.
In treating gynecomastia patients in Manhattan for three decades, we developed a system of classification that works well for us and for the men we work with. It is more detailed than most, which helps our team communicate clearly about patients and get a quick sense of where the treatment plan might start. At the same time, it’s easy for most guys to understand.
Class IA: like a squashed large grape under the areola
Class IB : like squashed small lemon under the areola
Class IIA: like a squashed orange under the areola
Class IIB: like a squashed orange with lax skin and a nipple that is lower than the fold
Class IIIA: like a squashed grapefruit under the areola
Class IIIB: like a squashed grapefruit with lax skin and a nipple that is lower than the fold
Class IVA: like a squashed cantaloupe under the areola
Class IVB: like a squashed cantaloupe with lax skin and a nipple that is lower than the fold
If you feel it’s important to assess your own case of man boobs in relation to other examples, flex and tense one “pec” muscle. Then with the other hand, pinch the excess skin and tissue. You can then begin to get a sense of how much extra there is.
To see pictures of the wide variety of guys we work with, visit our before and after gynecomastia photos of real patients. Instead of categorizing the photos by degree of severity, we have arranged our patients into groups with similar needs: adults, adolescents, body builders, puffy nipples and so on. You’re sure to find cases you can identify with in our gallery.
One reason we don’t concentrate on classifying our patients by severity is that surgery is the only “cure” for man boobs, regardless of the fine details. The surgical plan will vary to fit the needs of the individual patient, but male breast reduction is an appropriate course of action for most men who are bothered by man boobs of any size.
And that’s the real key: if you have man boobs and they inhibit you from having the life you want, it doesn’t really matter how small or large they are. You can research classification systems and you can compare yourself to other men as much as you want to, but the bottom line is that surgery is the remedy.
In the hands of an expert gynecomastia surgeon, male breast reduction will put man boobs-grapes or cantaloupes-behind you forever.