Enlarged breasts in men, known as gynecomastia, are not an uncommon condition.
Some overseas studies suggest it affects at least a third of all men over their lifetime. But increasingly open attitudes towards cosmetic procedures and greater pressure to look good are driving more local men to seek treatment for their condition.
Plastic surgeon Tan Ying Chien said the number of such cases he sees at The Sloane Clinic Plastic Surgery Centre has risen by 15 to 20 per cent every year in the last five years; among them are an increasing number of men above the age of 40.
Some of the more severe ones have moobs large enough to fill a B-cup-sized bra.
“I used to see younger gym-going men in their 20s who want to surgically remove some fat and breast tissue so that their pectoral muscles could show better. Now, I’m seeing more men in their 40s and 50s. Many of them are working professionals who want to look presentable, and are self-conscious when their moobs are visible through their T-shirts,” said Dr Tan.
Dr Calvin Chan of Calvin Chan Aesthetic and Laser Clinic, who carried out the fat-freezing treatment on Lee, sees an average of three to five male patients each month, a trend that picked up in the last two years.
Before that, he did not see such cases. “These men tend to be established in their careers, with families, but are pressured by their wives to look good, particularly if the women have embarked on diet and fitness regimens, and aesthetic treatments to maintain their figures,” said Dr Chan.
A male chest-reduction procedure typically involves using advanced liposuction techniques that break down excess fat either through ultrasound energy or radio-frequency energy, and then removing the fat via vacuum suction, said Dr Martin Huang, director and plastic surgeon of MH Plastic Surgery.
The procedure may cost between S$6,000 and S$15,000, depending on the technique used and the amount of tissue removed, he said.
During the procedure, the surgeon may also remove breast tissue via a 1.5cm- to 3cm-incision, said Dr Tan.
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Gynecomastia is not uncommon. In teenaged boys the condition is often a source of distress, but for the large majority of boys whose pubescent gynecomastia is not due to obesity, the breast development shrinks or disappears within a couple of years. The causes of common gynecomastia remain uncertain. 30% – 60% of young boys suffer from large male breasts. Gynecomastia is typically evident by the ages of 12 to 18 in boys. As many as 30% may live with it for the rest of their lives, but in other cases the gynecomastia will recede with age.