HSE spent €207,000 on male breast reduction surgery over four years

Gynaecomastia is swelling of the breast tissue in men or boys

‘Up to 30 per cent of men have enlarged breasts and many of them are extremely bothered by their appearance,’ says Dr Peter Prendergast of Venus Medical in Dublin. Photograph: iStock

‘Up to 30 per cent of men have enlarged breasts and many of them are extremely bothered by their appearance,’ says Dr Peter Prendergast of Venus Medical in Dublin. Photograph: iStock

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The Health Service Executive (HSE) has spent an estimated €207,000 on male breast reduction operations over the past four years.

Gynaecomastia – colloquially known as “man boobs” – is swelling of the breast tissue in men or boys, caused by an imbalance between estrogen and testosterone.

Figures provided by the HSE in response to a written Dáil question by Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy TD on the issue show that between 2014 and the end of August last, the HSE had carried out 46 gynaecomastia operations.

The figures show that between January and August last year, the HSE performed nine elective procedures; 12 elective and one emergency procedure in 2016; 10 elective procedures in 2015; and 14 elective procedures in 2014.

In its written reply to Mr Troy, the HSE said those who underwent surgery were usually treated by a general breast surgeon or plastic surgeon.

They are embarrassed when they are with their partners or even children, who often, innocently, pass remarks

According to Dr Peter Prendergast, medical director at the privately owned Venus Medical in Dublin, he performs 20-30 cases of male breast reduction annually and the number is growing.

“I meet several men every week who are extremely concerned about the appearance of their breasts. They wear loose, baggy clothes to conceal the contour of their chest. They avoid beaches,” he said.

Life-changing surgery

“They are embarrassed when they are with their partners or even children, who often, innocently, pass remarks. Surgery on these patients, whether excisional surgery or liposuction, is often indicated and can be life-changing for them.”

Up to 30 per cent of men have enlarged breasts and many of them are extremely bothered by their appearance

Dr Prendergast said men continued to be “extremely” embarrassed by their gynaecomastia.

“The number is growing in my practice as more men become aware of the possibility of improving the appearance of their chests without the need for surgery that requires general anaesthesia. Men also realise that it is a very common concern, and nothing to be ashamed about.”

Dr Prendergast said: “Up to 30 per cent of men have enlarged breasts and many of them are extremely bothered by their appearance. For some, it is true gynaecomastia, where the actual breast gland is enlarged. Others have so-called pseudogynaecomastia where there is simply excessive fatty tissue in the chest. It is often very resistant to diet and exercise, and the only remedy for aesthetically acceptable results is surgery.”

Dr Prendergast said the cost of each procedure, which takes an hour, was about €4,500. “Apart from wearing a special compression garment and taking mild pain relief, the recovery is quick and most men return to work within two or three days.”

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