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Ten-fold increase in 'moob' operations

Man boob reduction operations across the UK have rocketed by more than 1,000 per cent in five years.

Elderly and middle-aged Britons who have never dared show their naked torso in public are shaking off decades of shame and getting the problem cut out.

Plastic surgeons are increasingly seeing once shy men pay out to have their embarrassing 'moobs' reduced.

Latest figures were highlighted by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) as it met in Cardiff, south Wales, today at the start of its two-day annual conference.

The not-for-profit organisation, set up to spread best practice in the sector, represents about one in three plastic surgeons in the UK.

But BAAPS is the only such group in the country which issues its figures, meaning the real level of operations could be three times higher, or even more.

The group revealed that from a very low level of just 22 man boob reduction operations among its members in 2003, the total had jumped to 323 in 2008.

The staggering increase, of less than one a fortnight to almost one a day throughout the year, includes teenage boys.

Fuelling the rise is a greater openness about the problem and internet sites which highlight what can be done.

But leading the way are relatively elderly men going private after a lifetime of secret embarrassment.

"I get people coming to me in their 50s and 60s. Men who have never taken their T-shirts off in public before," said Douglas McGeorge, a past president of BAAPS.

Mr McGeorge, a plastic surgeon with his own practice, said teenage boys were also having the operation.

In their case, however, moob reduction surgery can be offered free on the NHS if the right circumstances are fulfilled.

"If you give a man female hormones then they get breasts," he says.

"In puberty, there is a mixture of hormones and some young men develop breasts which can go of their own accord later in life," he explained.

One problem in seeking free NHS treatment is whether the condition is regarded as an unfortunate natural occurrence or the result of obesity.

The cost and scope of an operation depends on the specifics of a condition.

In some cases a reduction can be effected with liposuction and resculpting of the diminished breast area.

In other cases tissue may need to be removed to create the same outcome.