Is Gynecomastia on the Rise?

New York moobs

We spotted a couple of articles recently with headlines asserting that gynecomastia is on the rise. When we read the entire text, the pieces turned out to be about man boob causes and remedies, without including proof that the incidence of the condition is actually increasing. But they did cause us to stop and think. Is gynecomastia on the rise?

Over the course of three decades performing surgery for gynecomastia in New York, we have yet to see hard data showing that man boob cases are growing. What is certain is that male breast reduction surgeries are on the rise. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), gynecomastia surgery rates grew more than 22% in the past five years.

We believe that more men seek surgery to reduce enlarged breasts nowadays because plastic surgery for men has become more accepted in general. Over the 20 years the ASAPS has been keeping track, the rate of male plastic surgeries has tripled, with the most popular procedures being liposuction, eyelid surgery and male breast reduction. Men tend to have around 10% of the total of both surgical and non-surgical procedures, while women account for 90% of all cosmetic procedures. This proportion has held pretty steady in recent times as overall numbers for both sexes have grown.

If gynecomastia rates have actually risen, there could be a number of factors. One of the articles we read pointed out the connection between fat and man boobs and discussed the impact of fast food on obesity rates. Now, while we are not reversing our feelings about the recent “fast food causes man boobs” hysteria—it doesn’t—we do agree that fat and man boobs are related.

We’ve written about the connection in previous posts. You can read about the makeup of moobs here, and about male breast reduction for overweight guys here. In short, fat deposits generate their own little environment that produces estrogen; meaning excess fat can trigger breast gland growth. Guys who pack on the pounds—whether through eating fast food, consuming too much beer or over-indulging a sweet tooth—may indeed find themselves with a case of man boobs. With overall obesity rates on the rise, it’s possible that cases of gynecomastia could be increasing as well. But there’s still no statistical proof.

It’s somewhat possible that our society’s pill-popping nature may be contributing to more cases of gynecomastia. Man boobs are a side effect of a variety of medications guys take, including Risperdal for psychological issues and Propecia for male pattern baldness. There are a few other medications that can cause gynecomastia, as well as the anabolic steroids some athletes still take to bulk up.

So it could be that the sheer number of cases of man boobs is on the rise, and if so, the triggers we’ve mentioned probably contribute. But until studies are done, no one can know for sure.

The number surgeries we perform for gynecomastia in New York has certainly grown over a few decades. Thirty years ago we noted that some guys wanted male breast reduction, and the techniques at the time left something to be desired. We decided to focus part of our practice on doing a great job for these patients, we created our own instruments, word spread, the media paid attention and here we are. Nearly half of our patients today are men, and many of them come see us for help with their moobs.

We would love to welcome you as part of that group. Start a conversation with us at 212-570-6080.

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