Author Topic: My journey and some things I learned along the way  (Read 416 times)

Offline medicaltourist1

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Hey everyone, 34 now, USA, I've had gyno since I was about 9-10 years old. I remember squishing my chest together and making boobs, because that was funny to me as a child. Fast forward a few years and I'm totally depressed and getting picked on in school. I remember seeing family pictures and cringing because of my chest. After high school I went through some pretty serious depression and gained alot of weight. While it helped mask my gyno (because I was huge) it just contributed to my rapidly deteriorating mental health. Years later things turned around, I worked through alot of problems and found my way out of the crippling depression. I got in shape, losing nearly 120lbs and landing at a healthy weight. I was in great shape and healthy but still had my boobs. Around this time I learned that this was actually a condition and started researching it. I researched methods, treatment, and doctors for years but I never had the money to get the surgery until this year. So now I'm planning the surgery. However, in the US, surgery ranges from $3500-$15000, depending on the severity, the doctor, and the facility. I have grade 2/3. I want the best doctor, someone who's made a name for themselves by specializing in Gynecomastia surgery and doing a consistently outstanding job. This starts in the about $7k+ range, and that's not even for the best surgeon. It only gets more expensive from there. While I'm a strong advocate of "get the best surgeon not the best price," I can't justify or afford to spending that much money so I'm looking abroad.

This is an emotional condition. Yes, it's also physical. But this isn't a case of a sore elbow that's inconvenient. This is a case of our personal worth, how we perceive the world's view of us, and how alot of us have been emotionally tortured and devastated by this condition. It's caused alot of us depression, social anxiety, failure to engage other humans, among a host of other issues.

For the past few years, I've been researching medical tourism: traveling abroad for medical treatment. Many countries in Asia provide top-tier medical procedures, the quality of which often rival those in America. The prices begin at 1/6 of the cost of US prices for the same (sometimes better) treatments. Add in the cost of flights and accommodations and you can have your surgery and a vacation along with it for far less than what it would cost in the US. The downside is that if you have any issues with the surgeon/operation, you really don't have much legal leverage compared to the US. But what I've personally found from my years of research is that many of the foreign specialists obsess over their work to an extent that I don't worry much about having problems. The doctors that I'm looking at are the top doctors in their country, much like the top doctors here.

I'm active in a few online gynecomastia communities and have been for years. Three common themes I see on these sites are:

1.) ALOT of people lost about how to get started and/or asking for recommendations.


2.) ALOT of people obsessing about price and trying to get the lowest one. Now I totally understand the money thing, alot of people can not afford surgery, even in places like India where it may cost $1200. Alot people can't afford the $3500 - $15000 it costs in the US. However, it is generally preferable to live with the condition until you can afford a good surgeon - getting the cheapest surgery you can find is not the way to do this. The quality of the surgery/surgeon/facility is always more important than the price. This isn't buying a used bicycle, this is having surgery on your body. Every surgery carries risks up to and including death. Don't bargain shop with your health.

3.) People getting the surgery, moving on and leaving the site without writing about their experience. Please don't be this person. If you've done any amount of research into this condition and surgery, then you know how difficult it can be to navigate the vast trove of data on the internet about it. Please please please, if you have the surgery, WRITE ABOUT IT. Good experiences and/or bad experiences. And sorry, "Just had the surgery, happy" doesn't cut it. We need details about your journey, the doctor, the facility, the post-op experience, all of it. The more details the better. These stories help people more than you can imagine.

While I will not make personal recommendations on doctors/clinics, I will tell you how I do my research. There's too much anecdotal information and recommendations going around in the gynecomastia community and it's dangerous. If you read enough times that Dr. X is the best surgeon in Country X / State X, it somehow becomes fact on the internet. I've personally witnessed people recommending and/or choosing a specific doctor because they "heard so much about them" on the internet. This is dangerous: reviews can be (and often are) fake, clinics can and do invest a lot of time and money into SEO/SEM to drive search results to them, and some clinics/establishments pay people to recruit (through advertising, forum postings, and fake stories) potential patients. This happens in the US and abroad. You should be doing your own thorough research, regardless of the country. Advertising and marketing are designed around conventional consumers. Get unconventional, do unconventional research, look outside the marketing and hype.

This is how I've conducted my research over the years:


Read read read. Realself, Gynecomastia.org, and Reddit have been great source of information and leads. I've compiled a list of doctors/clinics from these sources and other sources on the internet. Find a GYNECOMASTIA SPECIALIST. There are hundreds of plastic surgery clinics that have gynecomastia on their services list. They may be cheap, but if their doctor is the best facial specialist in the country but only does 3 gynecomastia surgeries a year, you don't want him cutting you open. A gynecomastia specialist will perform hundreds of gynecomastia surgeries a year. They may do other things also, but they should specialize in gynecomastia. Many gynecomastia specialists have written papers, conducted training seminars, and developed new and reliable techniques for this surgery. This information is out there, you just have to find it. I've read countless medical papers on gynecomastia and it's treatment. They are not fun to read but a doctor who writes a 12 page peer-reviewed paper in a respected medical journal is going to get alot more of my attention than a doctor who invests heavily in flashy advertising and marketing.


Youtube. Alot of good doctors will have videos of them performing surgery on patients while they explain the procedure. There are also alot of good doctors who don't do this. While not a necessity, it allows me to determine if the doctor actually knows what he's doing and talking about.
After years of researching, I made a list of potential doctors and pared it down to less than 10. Each doctor gets the following vetting process:


1.) Board certified. Verify credentials through whatever organization they claim. Some doctors are educated, interned, and board certified in both the US and their own country. Doctors who teach the gynecomastia specialty to other doctors get my attention as well, especially if they've been officially or professionally recognized in this specialty. Investigate the doctor. Dig for malpractice cases, licensing issues, complaints, etc.


2.)A website with thorough, comprehensive information and a large picture gallery of their surgeries and results. The good ones will also post follow up pictures from months after the surgery.


3.) Reviews. Because truth is not universal, take reviews with a grain of salt. On some platforms it's easy to have negative reviews taken down. On others it's impossible. If a doctor pisses someone off bad enough, those negative reviews will come through somewhere. Look into multiple pages of Google search results - some companies will pay to have bad reviews buried because many people never leave the 1st page of results. You may find valuable information on page 5 that you didn't find on 1-4. Read reviews/experiences with perspective. People can be ridiculous sometimes. I've read things like "the surgeon was professional and did a great job but the food I had for lunch was bland, ZERO STARS FOR THIS CLINIC!!!". Also understand cultural differences (if going abroad) and realize that they can affect reviews/experiences both negatively and positively. Perspective is very important.


4.) Personal experiences. Great patients will write about their experience afterwards. I can not stress this enough - if you have the surgery, please write about it for the rest of us. Good/bad/whatever, just detail your experience. And again, take these with a grain of salt also - people still lie. The best patient experiences will have before, during, and post-op updates. I've seen some guys stay very involved in the community, providing pictures and updates and answering questions months and years after their surgery. This is what I will do, I'm invested in this community and will continue to contribute because so many people are suffering.


5.) Facility. Review the hospital/clinic itself, separate from the doctor. The doctor may be outstanding, but if he operates in a hospital that has alot of complaints, it makes me question what is acceptable in terms of quality to him. I looked into one facility that detailed (with pictures, processes, and oversight reports) what cleaning and sterilization methods they used. They went far outside the scope of what the average patient asks (or even understands) to make sure potential patients are aware of the quality of their facility. I worked in a hospital for many years so a lot of it made sense to me, but they were volunteering this information to a general public who probably wouldn't understand it.


6.) Surgery cost ($ Converter). This is a big one. Here's an example. One of the top gynecomastia specialists in the US costs approximately $12000 - $15000 for the surgery. One of the top gynecomastia specialists in India costs approximately $1000-$3000. Factor in air travel and accommodations if you're not local. They both do the same surgery, are both similarly qualified, and have similar number of satisfied patients. For around $5000 total, you can fly to India, have your surgery, and stay for a week or two, then fly home. You want the best of the best but you can't afford $15000. Get the best of the best in India: can you afford $5000? Why settle for the 4th best in the US when you can have the very best in another country for 1/3 of the price? Plus you get a vacation abroad that you may not have even thought about before. There are a few doctors who got certified in the US and went to work abroad, gaining certification there also. Just do your research, there are good doctors all over the world. These are just examples meant to shed some light on average costs. I understand that we all have very different budgets.


7.) Time. Most of us have been dealing with gynecomastia for years. Then we finally have the money to get it fixed and try to rush into it. Don't do this. I've had it for 24 years now. I saved up and now have the money to have surgery. What's a month of research? I want to make sure that I don't have to deal with gynecomastia for the next 24 years. Take your time, do good research, and make a good decision based on facts and not emotions.


8.) Consultations. Most if not all overseas specialists do electronic consultations: email, video, Skype, etc. Whether you are in his office or on a video call, a potential doctor should answer all of your questions, make sure you fully understand all of the aspects, risks, costs, and expectations regarding this surgery. Obviously, it's best to visit in person but not always practical. You should vet each doctor as fully as you can with the means you have available. You should be totally comfortable with the doctor you choose before you ever give them a cent or go under the knife. I will be visiting several doctors/facilities before I choose one. I'm lucky to have the ability to do this and I understand not everyone does.


In Closing
I know this is a wall text but I want to help others who are on this road with me to make the best choice for their emotional and physical health. I've probably left a few things out, please feel free to contribute. I will continue to answer questions, update, and provide insight to my surgery in the very near future.
Please do not ask me for doctor/clinic/hospital recommendations. It is vital to do your own research and not base a life-changing decision on someone else's suggestion. I will provide a detailed review/experience of my surgery & doctor after my surgery.




Linkback: https://www.gynecomastia.org/forum/index.php?topic=33438.0


 

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