According to a study published in December’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, for men with mild gynecomastia or excess breast tissue, the shame of their pecs can be paralyzing. The study reports that pectoral etching is proving to be a viable option for men who do not want pectoral implants, but want to feel more comfortable with their chest.

Although not common, requests for pectoral etching are increasing slowly,” says Henry Mentz, MD, ASPS member surgeon and study co-author. “Many men simply don’t know the procedure is even out there let alone that it’s a safe, effective option for them.”

During pectoral etching, targeted liposuction is used along the lower and outer edges of the chest muscles. A modest fat pad is left over the pecs, creating a noticeable contrast outlining the muscle.

Many patients who want the procedure suffer from minor gynecomastia or have lost weight but still have a more feminine-looking chest. Other patients are serious athletes that, despite working out and eating right, cannot develop the masculine, muscular chest they desire. To get a balanced look, these patients often have both abdominal and pectoral etching.

Unlike pectoral implants, etching leaves virtually undetectable scars, has no potential rejection issues, and offers permanent results. Of 200 men who had pectoral etching, only four experienced minor complications, according to the study.

“Pectoral etching can be a life-altering experience for patients,” says Mentz. “For 74 years, one patient wouldn’t remove his shirt in public. Last year he proudly spent his vacation on the beach in Hawaii.”

[www.plasticsurgery.org, November 29, 2007]