Gynecomastia is generally understood as enlarged breasts/chest in men or men boobs. Many assume that all overweight men have gynecomastia due to the fat accumulation on the chest.

Just like this assumption, there are many more myths about gynecomastia online. I have scoured the internet to debunk common gynecomastia myths.

Gynecomastia Is Always Caused by Genetics

The most common cause of gynecomastia is physiological hormonal changes during the adolescent period. Other identifiable causes are certain medical illness, medications and obesity.

Gynecomastia Always Needs Surgery

Gynecomastia may not require treatment unless the breast enlargement causes embarrassment or distress to the patient. Certain cases of physiological gynecomastia will resolve without intervention. Surgical resection for adolescent gynecomastia may be withheld for at least one year as many of these cases will spontaneously resolve. Patient and parent reassurance may be sufficient for these cases. Gynecomastia caused by medications or medical condition will often respond to a change in medication or treating the underlying medical condition.

Gynecomastia is Uncommon

Gynecomastia is not uncommon in certain groups such as growing male adolescents and older males

It Is Difficult to Treat Gynecomastia

That’s not true at all. As mentioned earlier, gynecomastia can be due to different causes. For some cases, it could be reversed once the offending causes are removed; for the rest, surgery can provide comprehensive and permanent improvement.

Gynecomastia or Man-Boobs are just fat

“Man-boobs” can be due to either accumulation of breast fat or breast gland enlargement or both. 75-80% of my patients who seek help for treatment have an increase in both fat and gland sizes.

You don’t need surgery, just exercise

If you have gynecomastia due to breast glands enlargement, you cannot reduce them through weight loss or exercise! And here is another bad news for you, it is tough to ‘target’ fat loss around the breasts when you lose weight.

Male breasts can be reduced by using pills & creams

In cases when gynecomastia is caused by medications or medical illness, the condition can be resolved if the offending medication is withdrawn or the medical condition is attended to. DO NOT try pills or creams that can be purchased from the retail market as they will not work and may have harmful side-effects.

Gynecomastia is a sign of breast cancer

No, except in Klinefelter’s syndrome, in which the incidence of breast cancer is 20 to 60 times greater than in men without the condition. Multiple studies have shown no increased incidence of breast cancer in men with gynecomastia. Just one percent of male breast enlargement is caused by malignancy.

Gynecomastia is triggered by Obesity.

Yes, it can be. Gynecomastia is increased in generalised obesity as a result of increased conversion of testosterone to estradiol in fat tissue. In one study, more than 80% of those with a body mass index (BMI) >25 had gynecomastia. Weight gain will also lead to breast fat accumulation, making the “man-boobs” look worse.

Gynecomastia affects both breasts.

Gynecomastia occurs bilaterally(both sides) in approximately 50% to 55% of men.

Gynecomastia surgery is a MAJOR SURGICAL procedure

Gynecomastia surgery involves approaches through ‘key-hole’ incisions around the areolas where the enlarged breast glands are removed. Scars are then minimised and camouflaged around the areolas to improve the appearance during recovery. It can even be done under local anaesthesia for some patients. If there are no complications after the surgery, most patients should be fit to resume 90% of their daily activities after 2 days.

One can opt for surgery only after 18 years of age.

In Singapore, the legal age in which one can provide consent for surgery is 21 years of age. If you are below 21 years old, consent from your parents or legal guardians will be required before the surgery.

Gynecomastia can relapse in the long run following surgery.

Gynecomastia surgery involves removing almost all of the enlarged gland tissues. It is highly unlikely that the treated breasts will relapse after the treatment.

Gynecomastia impairs sexual vigor later in life:

That’s an interesting myth. But no, that’s not true either.

Eating lots of chicken and eggs can cause gynecomastia

Many of my patients believe in this, as well! The good news is, there is no significant scientific evidence to directly link the intake of any particular food to gynecomastia, so far.

Drinking beer with hops causes gynecomastia.

Unfortunately, there is some truth in this statement. Firstly, chronic alcoholism may lead to liver disorders which may increase the risk of gynecomastia. Secondly, excessive alcohol intake may lead to weight gain. As mentioned earlier, obesity increases the risk of gynecomastia.

Steroids will eliminate gynecomastia: Common Gynecomastia Myths

On the contrary, abuse of anabolic steroids may cause gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia is caused by hormonal imbalance.

As mentioned earlier, gynecomastia can be caused by many factors such as medications, physiologic changes and medical conditions which alter the balance of androgen and estrogen.

Gynecomastia left alone has no harm.

Treatment options vary depending on the cause. Gynecomastia may not require treatment unless the breast enlargement causes embarrassment or distress to the patient. Certain cases of physiological gynecomastia will resolve without intervention.

Gynecomastia Surgery has side effects: Common Gynecomastia Myths

Complications include wound infection, hematoma, and seroma. Other complications that can occur include undercorrection, overcorrection, contour irregularities, and scarring or keloid formation. Overall, there is high patient satisfaction and improvement in self-image for patients undergoing treatment for gynecomastia.

Surgery leaves behind scars/painful.

After surgery, there may be some discomfort on the treated areas which may last for weeks until full recovery. There will be surgical scars resulting from the surgery. They are usually camouflaged at the outer border of the areolas and not visibly noticeable for most.

Increasing the testosterone level, through anabolic steroids, will eliminate gynecomastia.

On the contrary, this will make the condition worse.

Does Soy Really Cause Man Boobs?

Similar answers were provided above, concerning about eating chicken and eggs.

Gynecomastia is filled with Fibroadenoma (benign (non-cancerous) breast tumors)

No. Histologically, gynecomastia results from variable degrees of ductal proliferation and stromal hyperplasia. NOT fibroadenoma.