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The Unspoken Problem: Gynecomastia (aka Man Boobs) And Its Silent Sufferers

Men or women, we all have insecurities.

Some of us dislike how our arms are a little too thin, while some of us dislike the way that our jawline isn’t as masculine as we wishy they were.

All of these insecurities usually come from our comparisons to ‘ideal’ figures presented on the media, and many of the times, these ‘ideals’ are actually just products of awesome Photoshop skills.

Regardless, we make efforts to improve our physical appearances – some through strict exercise regimes, some through undergoing aesthetic procedures, whatever works for each of us.

The latter is riddled with misconceptions, and the term “cosmetic surgery monster” tends to pop up as an insult, and many a times as an unfair exaggeration to the individuals who simply took an alternative route to improve their appearances.

But what if some of these surgeries were actually rooted in health issues?

For example, a bulging belly is more of a health than aesthetic problem

We’ve probably heard about those who undergo jaw surgery to reduce issues from strong under and overbites, and some who require rhinoplasty to fix breathing problems. However, not much is known about gynecomastia, also known as the medical condition of having male breasts.

In the US, male breast reduction surgeries made up around 27,456 in 2015, which represented a 35% growth since the year 2000. In Singapore itself, the numbers are definitely smaller, but there is no doubt that there are men seeking a solution for their problem.

We spoke to David (not his real name), a Singaporean in his mid-40s, and a silent sufferer of “man boobs” until his gynecomastia surgery.

When It Actually Becomes A Health Problem

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“Man boobs” also have physical implications, like soreness.

“Man boobs” are commonly seen as an issue when guys are wearing shirts with a tighter fit, and the bulges aren’t in the right places. (Also a problem for women.)

For David, however, the extra fat in his chest was actually making him feel physically uncomfortable.

“I’ve always felt a little discomfort on my chest area in my early 20s but have always passed it off as nothing. It wasn’t until the discomfort started getting overbearing and disrupting my daily activities.”

He first assumed that it was a sign of heart problems, but checks with a doctor revealed no issues, so he turned to the most common trick in the bag – exercise.

While his regime did help him lose weight, the fats on his chest didn’t go away and the pain was still persisting. He even resorted to putting ice on the sore areas, but it only served as a temporary relief.

Putting A Name To The Condition And Its Solution

Unable to find a solution offline, and adding on to the fact that it’s not a common topic of discussion among Singaporean men, David had no choice but to search online for solutions.

He soon found out that what he had was gynecomastia, and eventually, stumbled upon Amaris B. Clinic, which presented an opportunity for him to finally get help for the embarrassing condition.

However, the decision wasn’t as easily made as compared to, let’s say, getting help for an illness like flu.

He was wary about seeking help from a medical aesthetic clinic, especially since cosmetic surgeries are usually cast in a negative light.

“I wouldn’t call it a misconception, [but] more of a lack of understanding. I’ve always thought of aesthetics procedures as solely for vanity and never did I imagine that they could do more.”

However, being that it was a means that he could finally be rid of his suffering, he decided to book an appointment with Dr. Ivan Puah to see how things go.

“You can imagine it’s quite unnerving considering that I have no prior experience personally or by proxy of aesthetic procedures. But with encouragement and relentless persuasion from my wife, I decided to take the first step.”

Meeting Dr. Ivan Puah

Not knowing what to expect at a meeting with an aesthetics doctor, David was relieved that the doctor was not only patient, but managed to provide him the answers to all his life-long questions.

“[Dr. Ivan Puah] was very reassuring as he explained the procedure and I felt confident putting my well-being into his hands.”

He also found out the reasons of his condition.

“I was a pudgy as a kid so I’ve never given second thought about the extra fats on my chest. But when they are still there when I lost plenty of weight as I got older, it became an embarrassing issue. Not to mention the throbbing pain – day in and day out. Dr Ivan Puah [also] told me that aging could cause or aggravate the condition.”

Undergoing The Surgery

In the days leading up to the procedure, David was inevitably wrecked with nervousness:

“I’ve been in a few unsettling situations in my life but this one took the cake. Despite the reassurance after my first consultation, there was still a little doubt and I guess fear but I supposed it’s natural. I spent the days doing more research on the surgery and post-care.”

However, he knew that panicking would not help him in the end, and focused on the positive aspects to psych himself up.

The team at the clinic also played their part in assuring their patient that everything would be fine, and even better, after the surgery.

Life After The Surgery

David underwent a speedy recovery, and when asked about how he feels about himself now, he chirped, “As James Brown sang, ‘I Feel Good!,’ I honestly do. The pain has totally gone away. I feel more confident and alive even.”

A hush-hush affair, his friends only knew about the procedure after he got it done, and other than being impressed by the results and the smooth journey of the whole surgical process, they were also pleasantly surprised that “such a procedure can get rid of the pain, and successfully remove the unnecessary chest bits too”.

“No lumps, all good! My sculpted chest makes me feel and look more masculine. Can’t believe I am saying this but I feel like a real man now after 20 years.”

David also emphasised that having a strong support system is vital, and he thanks his wife for being supportive “even though it was [also] something new for her”.

When asked about what he wishes to tell other men undergoing the same condition as himself, he was encouraging, and advised sufferers to not ignore the issue and go get it checked as soon as possible.

“If you’re experiencing some pains especially if you do have man boobs, go get it checked! Don’t be in denial. Though it’s a disheartening and morale-busting condition, there is help available. And the best part is, with me as an example, the procedure is really safe and you have nothing to worry about. Don’t wait 20 years like me…”

Are you a silent sufferer, or do you know someone personally who is? You might just want to check out Amaris B. Clinic as an option.