According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 27,456 men had breast reduction surgery in 2015. That is up five percent from 2014 and up thirty-five percent from 2000.
It is even more interesting that male breast reduction surgery accounted for a full forty percent of all 68,106 breast reductions performed in 2015. These numbers only include the number of men that elect to have breast reduction surgery, not the total number of men with gynecomastia.
While exact figures are unknown, it is estimated that up to 70% of men will be affected by gynecomastia in their lifetimes. Gynecomastia in of itself is a benign condition. It will not increase a person’s risk of breast cancer. It merely gives him a more developed chest.
Those with gynecomastia have two options: wear a bra or undergo breast reduction surgery.
Breast Reduction Surgery
It is a personal decision to pursue this option because the surgery is not without risks. It may be the best choice if having developed breasts causes physical or emotional pain. Wearing a bra may be a viable alternative if the physical pain or discomfort of having developed breasts is an issue.
Most insurance companies will not pay for a breast reduction since it is considered a cosmetic procedure that is not medically necessary. The surgery costs between $4,500 and $6,500, depending on surgeon’s fees, anesthesia, operating room, and facility fees.
Why I Still Have My Pair
I started wearing bras because I did not like the sensation of my chest moving around and I wanted to give my breasts a nicer look under clothes. Wearing bras have become integral to my recovery from Anorexia since chest movement contributed to my body image distress. The compression and containment that a bra provides have helped me in coping with it.
Why would I choose to wear a bra when I could just have them removed via surgery? Quite simply, because surgery guarantees no such thing. Over the years, my breasts have changed size and shape in both directions. Surgery is not going to change whether or not my breasts grow again in the future.
The more important question is, how does getting breast reduction surgery serve me and not people or outside entities that think my body should look a certain way? Women and girls are pressured to achieve a lingerie model profile. Teenage boys and young men are expected to reduce and eliminate their developed breasts, and create that chiseled and muscular physique. We preach body positivity, yet we are as critical of these structures that we inhabit as we have ever been!
I believe that I would betray myself if I were to have them removed to gain acceptance from others. I have spent many years learning to accept my body. I have not arrived at the magic solution to this problem. I am a recovering anorexic, and body acceptance is a daily struggle. There are days when I think that my breasts are ugly and deformed. On those days, I consider having surgery. I ultimately decided not to go through with it because it does not serve me or my recovery.
What about the Gym and the Pool?
I have some sports bras that I wear to the gym and a great bikini bra top that I wear to the pool under a swim shirt! They are comfortable, breathable, supportive, and they lower my body image anxiety surrounding my chest.
I used to worry about whether or not my bras were showing through my workout shirts. I no longer concern myself with it. I change in a private area since I do not know the individuals at the gym. I focus my attention on achieving my fitness goals and not on an exposed bra strap or an imprinting bra outline.
As an expert swimmer and a SCUBA diver who spent four years away from the pool due to body image struggles, I will wear a bikini bra if it helps me get back to swimming!
Isn’t Bra Shopping Awkward for a Guy?
Bra shopping is something many women feel uncomfortable doing, which puts me in good company! I have found that building relationships with lingerie boutique owners greatly helps with my discomfort in finding bras for myself. These women are familiar with my needs and know the styles I like. They are non-judgmental regarding my decision to wear bras. I also get the added benefit of being informed of new options that my fitter thinks would work well for me. That makes man-shopping for bras much easier.
What do you think of these reasons why guys wear bras instead of going under the knife? How would you react if you ran into a man trying on bras at your local boutique or lingerie department? Should they have breast reduction surgery instead?
Featured image: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Forbes