Gynecomastia historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Husnain Shaukat, M.D [2]


Gynecomastia is derived from Greek words, "gyne" which means woman and "mastos" which means breast. The term was originally coined by Galen, a Greek physician. Gynecomastia has been a known concept since the days of Aristotle (384–322 BC). The surgical management was initially discussed by Paulus, a Greek physician and later modified by Al-Zahrawi or Albucasis, an Andalusian surgeon.

Historical Perspective

The most important historical events related to gynecomastia diagnosis and treatment include:[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

  • The term gynecomastia was coined by Galen (130–200 AD), a Greek physician who described gynecomastia as an abnormal increase in fat within the male breast.
  • Gynecomastia is derived from Greek words; "gyne" which means woman and "mastos" which means breast.
  • Gynecomastia has been a known concept since the days of Aristotle.
  • In the 7th century, there is some evidence of surgical treatment of gynecomastia by Paulus, a Greek physician. He is known for suggesting surgical treatment of gynecomastia for the first time in his Epitome of Medicine (Seven Books).
  • Haly Abbas later in the Islamic age described the surgical management of gynecomastia in his Kitab al-Maliki (The Royal Book). His work was based on that of Paulus of Aegina.
  • Al-Zahrawi or Albucasis, an Andalusian surgeon also provided the surgical treatment of gynecomastia after Paulus.
  • Four centuries later, Şerefeddin Sabuncuoğlu illustrated the surgical techniques for the management of gynecomastia. These techniques were based on the work by Paulus and Al-Zahrawi.
  • Al-Zahrawi's surgical management was thought to be based on those of Paulus. The modification of surgical approach and use of medicinal substances might be indicative of Al-Zahrawi's own practice of the procedure.
  • Al-Zahrawi's surgical management was practiced for many centuries.
  • The probable etiology of gynecomastia was not discussed by Paulus and Al-Zahrawi in their work. In current practice, surgery for gynecomastia is reserved after the underlying cause is treated or after the failure of medical treatment.
  • In the 18th century, Olpan, Schuchardt, and Gruber were among the prominent people who worked on gynecomastia.
  • In 1919, Dr. Helen Ingleby published two cases of gynecomastia.


  1. "Reorganized text". JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 141 (5): 428. 2015. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2015.0540. PMID 25996397.
  2. Hosseini SF, Alakbarli F, Ghabili K, Shoja MM (2011). "Hakim Esmail Jorjani (1042-1137 AD: ): Persian physician and jurist". Arch Gynecol Obstet. 284 (3): 647–50. doi:10.1007/s00404-010-1707-7. PMID 20931210.
  3. Chavoushi SH, Ghabili K, Kazemi A, Aslanabadi A, Babapour S, Ahmedli R; et al. (2012). "Surgery for Gynecomastia in the Islamic Golden Age: Al-Tasrif of Al-Zahrawi (936-1013 AD)". ISRN Surg. 2012: 934965. doi:10.5402/2012/934965. PMC 3459224. PMID 23050167.
  4. Papadakis M, Manios A, de Bree E, Trompoukis C, Tsiftsis DD (2010). "Gynaecomastia and scrotal rhacosis: two aesthetic surgical operations for men in Byzantine times". J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 63 (8): e600–4. doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2010.05.013. PMID 20538533.
  5. Annajjar J (2010). "Abu Alkasem Al Zehrawi (Albucasis 936-1013)". Childs Nerv Syst. 26 (7): 857–9. doi:10.1007/s00381-009-0912-9. PMID 19484247.
  6. Karsner HT (1946). "Gynecomastia". Am J Pathol. 22 (2): 235–315. PMC 1934190. PMID 19970865.
  7. Ingleby H (1919). "TWO CASES OF SO-CALLED GYNAECOMASTIA IN YOUNG BOYS". Br Med J. 2 (3072): 631–2. PMC 2343807. PMID 20769701.

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