Links have been made between gynecomastia and Body Dysmorphia Disorder or BDD, a body image disorder characterized by frequent thoughts about perceived flaws in appearance. These thoughts are difficult to control and can consume the individual so much that it interferes with daily functioning.
Although most people complain about imperfections in their appearance, those with BDD have a different experience. It is said to exist in about 1% of the general population and in up to 30% of those who seek plastic surgery services. Treatments offered to those who suffer from BDD include “talk therapy” as well as medications.
Having said the above, what do we know about gynecomastia and BDD? A quick search of the Internet and the literature makes me conclude that we don’t know much. In fact, there is not much research on the psychology of gynecomastia—a condition that affects millions of men and one that can have severe psychological consequences.
From my experience with hundreds of gynecomastia-afflicted patients, I can tell you confidently that a small number of them also suffer from BDD. These patients usually present with complaints of gynecomastia but show very few symptoms—they appear “normal” to most people (even to me). These patients are probably at a higher risk of complaining that they still have gynecomastia even after they have had appropriate surgical treatment.
At this juncture in my gynecomastia career, I am partnering with a major university to seek answers to this question: What are the psychosocial factors associated with gynecomastia? I hope in the future I will not only be able to surgically “cure” my patients of gynecomastia, but also “cure” them of the mental burden associated with this condition.
At the Austin Gynecomastia Center, I am constantly working on solutions to the problems associated with this oppressive condition. If called upon, I hope you will volunteer as subjects in gynecomastia research.