Let’s Make a Gynecomastia Vocabulary Change
There’s one word we would like to see dropped from gynecomastia-related vocabulary, and we bet you can’t guess what it is. It’s not a slang word like “moobs,” or even a more edgy term like “bitch tits.” It’s a word that’s widely in use even in the medical community: pseudogynecomastia.
Here’s our reasoning; see what you think.
Pseudogynecomastia is a term used to describe enlarged male breasts that are made up solely of fatty tissue, rather than breast gland or, more typically, a combination of fat and gland. You’ll find the word in widespread use by doctors—even plastic surgeons—and on medical websites that generally offer very good information.
Having been in the business of treating gynecomastia for more than three decades, we are firm in our belief that “pseudogynecomastia” is not just a term of dubious value, it’s actually counterproductive for physicians and patients to use it. Reasons include:
• It’s misleading. Breasts, whether male or female, are comprised of skin, fat and breast gland. We have seen no cases in which fat alone is the culprit behind a set of moobs. Furthermore, it is virtually impossible to hazard a guess about the makeup of man boobs beneath the skin, for a doctor and especially for a layperson. We tell our patients it’s a waste of time to speculate about this.
• It can offer false hope. If a guy feels his excess breast tissue is fat, he may believe he can banish it through diet and exercise. This just isn’t possible for two reasons. One is that guys gain weight first in the love handles, abdomen and chest, and those are the last places it comes off (and often doesn’t) with weight loss. In addition, excess chest fat produces hormones that tend to prompt the growth of breast gland, so even when a man reaches his ideal weight, it’s a good bet he will still have larger breasts than he would like.
• It may lead to sub-par treatment. Unfortunately, there are many cosmetic surgeons who offer a liposuction-only approach to gynecomastia or one of the new non-invasive ways of reducing fat. Very often, patients who have just fat addressed are unsatisfied with their results.
• It can be interpreted to imply that the condition is not worth solving. If a guy feels his man boobs hold him back in life, they are worth treating no matter what lies inside. And the right course of action is male breast reduction surgery performed by a board certified plastic surgeon who’s highly experienced with moobs.
As for why the term “pseudogynecomastia” persists like it does, we have some thoughts based on our years of working with guys. One is that patients simply don’t like the thought that they have breast tissue. They often obsess about whether their moobs are made up of breast gland or fat, and many seem to be in terror of the thought that they have “feminine” features.
As for medical professionals, the vast majority of doctors acquainted with the condition—such as pediatricians, internists, endocrinologists and surgeons—do not handle cases of gynecomastia regularly and do not get to see what’s inside hundreds of male breasts. Even cosmetic surgeons often treat just a few cases here and there, remaining fairly inexperienced. Few teams handle a hundred or more annual cases of gynecomastia as our New York practice does.
We feel strongly that every patient who is bothered by enlarged breasts should spend time educating himself and considering the right course of action rather than worrying about what’s “in there.” We hope guys across the country and right here in New York will learn about gynecomastia from a qualified, board certified plastic surgeon, then decide whether surgery makes sense.
Call us at 212-570-6080 or contact us online if you would like to talk. It would be our pleasure to meet you and help you with this aspect of your life, no matter what you choose to do.