Many men are unable or unwilling to have surgery because of religious, health, personal, or financial reasons. They are living with gynecomastia. This section is about their efforts and journeys to come to terms with themselves and their bodies.
Living with gynecomastia is a daily struggle. There is a time in every male’s life, usually before puberty, when you fit into the world very comfortably without any worries. Then things change. Comments are made and you note them. You suddenly realize your chest is very different and you are embarrassed by it. You begin to hide your chest from family and friends. You avoid the shirts vs. skins game—swimming is avoided altogether. Certain social situations are ignored, and you might experience social isolation. Clothes become heavier, very loose, and are usually worn with a t-shirt. Even in the heat of the summer, your clothes remain largely the same.
As time passes, living with gynecomastia causes changes to posture. In an attempt to de-emphasize the enlarged chest, the shoulders are slouched forward, causing a rounding of the back and shoulders. The male breast may become tender and painful which can be limiting. The tenderness can persist for years.
Living with gynecomastia becomes a way of life: adaptation, compromise, and protection of one’s self-esteem. This might work for some men, but many have a very difficult time. Many adolescent males seek gynecomastia surgery, while others live with it in the hope that working-out and building-up the chest muscles will cure the problem. Unfortunately, the workout routine will not reduce the breast gland tissue. The males with financial means and the desire to have surgery change this, but the others live with hiding their chests.
This can become a problem for dads with gynecomastia; they might limit their children’s outdoor activities, like swimming or going to the beach, due to the embarrassment of their own gynecomastia. This can become an issue for the family, and is a common reason for men to seek gynecomastia surgery.
Gynecomastia caused by steroids is one of the most common causes of drug-induced gynecomastia. These men are in pursuit of the perfect male physique. Little do they know that this drug can sabotage their goals. Once the gynecomastia breast gland develops, it does not go away without surgery. Living with this condition might prevent one from exposing the body that one worked so hard to develop.
Living with gynecomastia is difficult. The Gynecomastia.org community is here for support and solutions. We welcome your stories, we welcome you to our forums to discuss any issues, and we welcome you to the “Ask a Surgeon” section.
Welcome to Gynecomastia.org.
Miguel A. Delgado, MD
Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeon
San Francisco, CA