Male breast reduction surgery surged 256% in the first six months of 2007 in the UK, and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that more men are getting breast reduction surgery, particularly in New York. But there may be a quicker, cheaper, natural alternative already available.
The US plastic surgeons study shows that last year nearly 14,000 boys aged 13 to 19 underwent surgery to reduce the size of their breasts, an increase of 21% over the previous year for that age group.
Why? At somewhere between $1500 and $6000 for a procedure, and usually two weeks of discomfort and compression vests after the operation, it's not a casual cosmetic touchup.
The surprising fact is that 50 percent of men today are affected by this enlargement of one or both breasts, known technically as gynecomastia.
True enlargement of the breast glands needs to be distinguished from excess fat in the breast area that occurs with weight gain. Regular workouts might also have caused a man's breasts to appear more prominent because of increased bulk in the pectoral muscles underneath the breasts.
But generally, i t's not about being overweight. It’s about hormones. During puberty, if young men get just enough female ones, they grow breasts. Older men on hormone therapy, for prostate cancer for instance, experience the same thing. But for many, there is simply no obvious cause.
Gynecomastia commonly occurs during puberty, when it's thought to affect up to 40 percent of adolescent boys. The excess breast tissue disappears without treatment in two years in 75 percent of these children, and within three years in 90 percent of them.
But that leaves up to 2% of the adult population with embarrassing male breast enlargements. And that seriously interferes with social activities. The tales of woe range from abstention from sex and gym workouts to parties and beach outings.
But most of all, it's a self-consciousness and frustration that spills into every aspect of life.
So is male breast reduction surgery the solution?
Orthodox medical advice holds that teenagers will grow out of it, and if they don't, gynecomastia surgery will solve the problem. Excess breast tissue or fat can also be removed with liposuction, with or without the surgery.
Cliff Manchaster, who calls himself 'The Chest Coach', disagrees. He says that losing 'man boobs' is all about balancing hormones, not just weight loss.
"Some important hormones actually peak when you hit your twenties," he says. "That's why some guys naturally lose their man boobs without doing anything. That realisation was the biggest breakthrough, and my search became so much easier from that point on. I simply developed a method to mimic nature."
That method, he says, is a much more appealing alternative to male breast reduction surgery. It's natural, cheap, and quick. (Incidentally, you can pick up a free sample lesson from that link.)
So before you consider surgery, consider alternatives, and take steps to exclude possible reversible causes of breast enlargement. The commonest causes in adults are alcohol-related liver disease and medications such as cimetidine (anti-ulcer), spironolactone (diuretic for high blood pressure), digoxin (heart drug), and marijuana. As with any surgery, there are risks of bleeding and infection, but they are apparently not common.
The gynecomastia operation is occasionally covered by some insurance companies, but not all, so you need to check before surgery.
Or simply try the Chest Coach course.