The latest figures for the most popular male plastic surgery treatments in the UK (BAAPS, 2021), show that male breast reductions sit joint fourth alongside liposuction. And this is unsurprising given that gynecomastia is on the rise – and this is pronounced in certain age groups.
A Danish study that spanned 20 years from 1998 to 2017 showed a fivefold increase in gynecomastia among young men aged between 16 and 20 years old. But for elderly men, the report showed a bigger elevenfold increase in the diagnosis of gynecomastia across the 20-year period.
So why has gynecomastia increased at such a high rate over the last 2 decades?
Why gynecomastia is on the rise in older men
The high incidence of gynecomastia in elderly men (age 61-80 years) that was revealed in the study is consistent with other evidence that androgen production decreases with age. Furthermore, elderly men nowadays have lower testosterone than similarly aged men decades ago.
Increasing obesity incidence (all ages) within the past 20 years is another contributory factor. Obese men have an increased estrogen to androgen ratio as testosterone is converted into estradiol in fatty tissue, including the breast which may manifest as gynecomastia.
In older men, gynecomastia usually relates to a reduction in androgen production, especially with accompanying weight gain. But, there are some other potential underlying causes. These include obesity, hypogonadism, and medications (eg, spironolactone).
Causes of increased gynecomastia in younger men
The fivefold increase in gynecomastia seen in younger males (age 16-20 years) revealed in the study, are likely to be related to environmental/lifestyle factors rather than genetic. In particular, a growing abuse of nonmedical anabolic-androgenic steroids to boost physical strength and improve appearance. Furthermore, alcohol abuse is a big problem in Denmark, particularly among young men – mainly as it is an integral part of Danish culture.
Certainly, this may have contributed to the high and increasing incidence of gynecomastia in younger men.
Another contributing factor could be increased exposure to environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol A that are present in plastics and cosmetics may have estrogenic effects. There is very little evidence to confirm a direct link between EDCs and gynecomastia. However, exposure to these chemicals has increased in the past 20 years.
Many men approach male cosmetic surgery specialists Masculum to find out whether they are suitable for a male breast reduction procedure. The VAGS procedure has been specifically developed to tackle all three main causes of gynecomastia:
- Fatty tissue that is resistant to diet and exercise,
- Over-development of the glandular breast tissue, and
- Excess skin after weight loss.
This procedure can be done in a couple of hours as a day case. The recovery after an operation takes around a week.
To find out whether you are suitable, call 0207 470 9254 to arrange a consultation at our central London clinic.