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Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris

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Offline rajek

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Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« on: April 25, 2016, 10:18:00 AM »
Hi everyone! The next few pages are a record of my experiences after I decided to undergo surgery to treat my gynaecomastia. Throughout the years that I lived (lived -see, I don't have it now!) with gynaecomastia, this forum was an invaluable source of information, support and guidance to me. It was absolutely essential in supporting me to undergo surgery and I am permanently indebted to its contributors for the wonderful choice I made in my life to take action on this condition.

I hope to keep this updated as long as I have relevant things to add, but please let me know if there's anything you want to hear. Are you reading? Tell me! I'd love to hear from you and I would be happy to share anything that could help others on their journey. 


THE PREFACE


I've had gynaecomastia for as long as I can remember.


Like many on this forum, my gynaecomastia has had a serious impact on my physical and mental health, my body image, my confidence, my relationships and has reached into almost every corner of my life. It has prevented me from exercising, enjoying the outdoors, wearing what I want to wear and inhibited my intimate relations. For most of my life, I  have concealed it through a mix of clever clothing (camouflage) and avoiding exposing situations. I've never, for example, been shirtless at the beach. 


How did this all happen?


When I was younger, I was overweight. During puberty, I probably weighed around 95kg at my heaviest and have since lost a good deal and come down to around 70 (I'm 1.75m tall) depending on which side of Christmas I weigh in on. I lost the weight through diet first and then, once I felt comfortable enough, through more vigorous exercise. I always hated the idea of wearing gym clothes and the idea of having my chest bounce around during aerobic activity terrified me.

However, no matter how much weight I lost, it never really seemed to have an impact on the 'fat' that I carried on my chest: my breasts. This, I have since learnt, is because there are things at play more complex and sinister than fat. Gland.

I have felt a sense of shame about my gynaecomastia. I have managed to overcome this, in part. I do not feel ashamed anymore, but I still regard them as aesthetically undesirable.

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I held a sense that it is un-masculine' and unnatural to have gynaecomastia. This is not the case.

I want to stop briefly here to say that the community established by this forum has been a great comfort to me over several years when I have come here for information or simply to read a story of support. It's that appreciation which has motivated me to record my story in this forum.

I chose to have surgery to correct my gynaecomastia because it is pathological. It represents a problem in my life and I can now afford the time and money to address it. There is absolutely no shame in living with gynaecomastia for those who have chosen not to undergo surgery, or who are unable to do so for medical or financial reasons.  

I'm 28 now and after a lifetime (though I know many suffer for longer) of living with gynaecomastia, I've decided to take action. I went to my GP who I have to say was really excellent and she assessed me as a probable candidate for surgery. She only knew one plastic surgeon (to whom she had never referred a man) and he specialised in breast augmentation, but she only knew that he worked with women. Can I stress how important it is that you have a sense of which surgeon you want to see before you go to the GP?

Based on reccomendations on this forum, I booked my first consultation with Dr Ben Norris at Form and Face in Sydney's Bondi Junction. Dr Norris assessed me as a candidate for surgery and, after some reflection, I have booked in for surgery in a couple of weeks. I'm keen to share my experiences here but want to know:
  • Is anyone listening? Would it be useful to record the experience? What would you like to know?, and
  • Has anyone had any experience with Dr Norris? Any advice on questions to ask?


Linkback: https://www.gynecomastia.org/smf/index.php?topic=31750.0

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Offline froob

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2016, 12:52:50 AM »
Best of luck with the surgery! Are you going to have it under general anesthetic? 

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Offline rajek

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2016, 05:30:16 AM »
Thanks for reading!
I'm going under general at East Sydney Private Hospital. It's possible to have treatment under local, but it depends how much you're having done. I can't remember what Dr Norris said, but I think that he said if you are having gland cut out, you don't do it under local. From my perspective, you're better off doing it under general if you're healthy so that the surgeon can focus on doing a good job rather than on your comfort.

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Offline froob

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2016, 06:59:12 PM »
I had a consult with Dr Norris a month ago. The consult was great and I wanted to go ahead with gland removal plus lipo but the total price (medicare only) was doubled due to the hospital, theatre and anesthetic costs. 
So I've now got it booked in with Dr Ajaka, who does this procedure under local anesthetic. Its two weeks away! 

How far away is your surgery?

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Offline rajek

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2016, 07:18:28 PM »
I had a consult with Dr Norris a month ago. The consult was great and I wanted to go ahead with gland removal plus lipo but the total price (medicare only) was doubled due to the hospital, theatre and anesthetic costs.
So I've now got it booked in with Dr Ajaka, who does this procedure under local anesthetic. Its two weeks away!

How far away is your surgery?

Froob, I'm sorry to hear the hospital costs made going with Dr Norris too expensive. I can totally understand as plastic surgery is expensive and anything elective at a private hospital is very expensive. 

I think you're referring to the guy at Cosmos Clinic? I haven't seen anything written about him, but from the looks of him he isn't a specialist plastic surgeon or even a registered and qualified plastic surgeon. In New South Wales, you can conduct surgery if you've even done a surgical rotation in your hospital training, even if you're not a specialist. There are several differences between specialist plastic surgeons and doctors who do surgery for cosmetic purposes, particularly around safety, training and experience. 

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Offline froob

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2016, 09:06:25 PM »
Yeah that's the place. I will be the first to give Cosmos a review on this forum! Hopefully a good one...
You're right Dr Ajaka is a cosmetic surgeon not a plastic surgeon. It was a tough decision but it it looks like he has done this procedure for many years and uses "Vaser" liposuction technology that is less intrusive. The main reason was the total cost though. Hands down would have went with Dr Norris if the hospital fees were less steep.

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Offline rajek

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2016, 07:26:15 AM »
THE FIRST CONSULTATION

I saw Dr Norris for my first consultation about a month ago.



I came to his rooms after making an appointment with Dr Ajaka at the 'Comsos Clinic'. I decided it was time to take action, but I was nervous and I was panicked. When I made the booking with Dr Ajaka, it was because he offered the surgery A) under general anaesthetic and B) for a price far less than plastic surgeons had quoted. I did some more research and, reading about the experiences of others on this forum (such as with Dr Lanzer), I decided that cosmetic surgery wasn't for me. If I'm honest, I went with Dr Norris because I liked the tone of his website and because others on this page recommended him. I cancelled my appointment with Dr Ajaka and booked in to see Dr Norris.



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Boys! A word of warning from future me: only consider gynaecomastia surgery with an experienced and accredited specialist plastic surgeon. Your plastic surgeon should be a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons and a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. There's plenty of advice on this forum about how to choose a surgeon, but make sure you understand completely the difference between cosmetic surgeons and plastic surgeons and, please, do not, under any circumstances, entrust your body to an unaccredited cosmetic "surgeon". 


For me, making the appointment was enormously difficult, and so was the thought of talking to a stranger about my chest. 


I only told a few close  friends about my intention to undergo surgery and, to be honest, I felt like being sick every time. I have carried the shame, humiliation, anxiety and hatred of my chest for over ten years and never spoken openly about it with someone. I wish I took the time even to talk about my experience on this forum. It's not shameful to have gynaecomastia, and I was surprised about the support I've gotten from friends and from my family. But, on to what you're interested in...


THE CONSULTATION


Dr Norris' rooms are lovely. It is clearly a very high-end practice and, when it comes to making modifications to your body, this is not the sort of thing you want to skimp on. I waited only very briefly to see Dr Norris and then he came out, introduced himself and saw me into his rooms. He smiles, is friendly and has a lovely gentle manner. To tell a stranger about my experience with gynaecomastia was horrifying to me, but Dr Norris really made me feel at ease. He had clearly heard it all before.  



He asked me what I was there for and I told him. He listened thoughtfully and without judgement. He must hear about people in my condition all the time (he later told me he does a couple of surgeries every week for this condition) and yet he was inquisitive and patient with my story which is so similar to many of you on here. It was cathartic just to have it all out in the open with someone for once. 



He then asked me a number of questions. He asked me if I felt comfortable with my shirt off, if I would wear a tight white t-shirt, how long the issue had persisted and a whole raft of other questions. He took detailed notes. He then explained what causes gynaecomastia. He told me that, for someone like me who was overweight during puberty, hormonal imbalance can cause fat to collect at the chest and for tissue to grow within it, causing the formation of the male "breast". He told me that in many cases, gynaecomastia is not just fat but glandular tissue, which is why it can't be lost through diet and exercise. I told him that I had attempted to get rid of the "fat" on my chest through weight loss (I was 68/69 kg at one point in my life which is technically underweight for my height). He explained that gland was not fat and so it could not be reduced through diet and exercise. Only at the starvation point does the body consume protein, which would reduce gynaecomastia, but at the same time, cannibalise organs and other important parts of my body. This, he explained, is how anorexics die.



Then he asked me if it would be okay if I took off my shirt and stood in front of his mirror. The way he asked really struck me because, to be honest, it generally isn't okay. It's a terrifying prospect for me, but the way he asked suggested he understood. We looked at my chest together and he pointed out all the various features he could see. He noted stretch marks that run across my shoulders, the inframammary folds that are sometimes mentioned in this forums and my slightly larger-than-average nipples. He felt my chest and gave me his honest assessment.



He told me that I had real bilateral gynaecomastia. He said I had gland, a reasonable amount, as well as fat in areas that aren't ideal. He told me that it could be corrected with surgery and explained what he would do. 


Namely, the excision at the bottom of the areola through which the gland is removed and some small points under the arm pits through which vaser liposculpture is conducted to complete the "look". I asked about my slightly puffy nipples and he explained that because there is gland underneath them, blood runs through the nipples, causing them to be puffy. He asked me whether, when it is cold, the nipples constrict and suggested that removing the gland would be, in effect, like returning them to a state similar to this - this is because when it is cold, the blood does not rush through the gland. Once the gland is removed, there is no place through which the blood can move and so the puffiness reduces.



He explained that because I am young, the natural elasticity of my skin would respond well to the surgery and my chest would reform across its new contour, the nipple would likely reduce in size and reposition well. He also told me that he could remove the inframammary fold through loosening the fat underneath it which is good because it will look unnatural otherwise.



After this I dressed and he asked me if I had any questions. I asked him some questions about recovery but, honestly, I was so stressed out by the experience, I doubt I made any thoughtful observations or asked the right questions. He kept asking me: "do you have any more questions?" which, when I failed to produce, he said: "Well, you haven't asked me about risks..." he then proceeded to explain to me what the risks of the procedure are which I won't talk about here as it's well-covered in other posts.



I want to make one important point: he told me that if I wanted to, I could walk out of seeing him that morning and go and make an appointment for surgery, but he would discourage me from doing so. He told me that if the only thing I got out of the consultation that day was the sense that I didn't want to have a surgery, then he would feel like he had done a good job. But, if in a few days I had decided it was the right choice for me, that he would be my surgeon. I got the sense that he had assessed me just as much as I had assessed him. I felt completely comfortable with him.



Then I went to talk with his lovely assistant who explained the finer details of the costs. I don't want to post them here but I am happy to speak privately with anyone who is interested. After a few days, I called back and booked a surgery.

 


My surgery is next week.. I am a little behind on posting, but I know how valuable these accounts are so I will also write about my second consultation before then. I hope this is useful to you all, I would love to hear some feedback and happy to answer any questions. :)

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Offline rajek

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2016, 07:29:39 AM »
Yeah that's the place. I will be the first to give Cosmos a review on this forum! Hopefully a good one...
You're right Dr Ajaka is a cosmetic surgeon not a plastic surgeon. It was a tough decision but it it looks like he has done this procedure for many years and uses "Vaser" liposuction technology that is less intrusive. The main reason was the total cost though. Hands down would have went with Dr Norris if the hospital fees were less steep.

Hi, Froob. I have seen that some cosmetic surgeons can do a good job, so I hope Dr Ajaka turns out to be the guy you are looking for. Can I recommend that you find out whether he intends to just do lipo or whether he will also excise the gland, if you have any? I asked Dr Norris what "vaser" means and he told me that it's just branding and the most liposuction machines are the same. There are claims that "vaser" can break up gland, but that this is untrue. 

Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2016, 02:36:26 AM »
UPDATE: CONSULTATION 1


I saw Dr Norris for my first consultation about a month ago.

I came to his rooms after making an appointment with Dr Ajaka at the 'Comsos Clinic'. I decided it was time to take action, but I was nervous and I was panicked. When I made the booking with Dr Ajaka, it was because he offered the surgery A) under general anaesthetic and B) for a price far less than plastic surgeons had quoted. I did some more research and, reading about the experiences of others on this forum (such as with Dr Lanzer), I decided that cosmetic surgery wasn't for me. If I'm honest, I went with Dr Norris because I liked the tone of his website and because others on this page recommended him. I cancelled my appointment with Dr Ajaka and booked in to see Dr Norris.

For me, making the appointment was enormously difficult, and so was the thought of talking to a stranger about my chest. I only told a few close, close friends about my intention to undergo surgery and, to be honest, I felt like being sick every time. I have carried the shame, humiliation, anxiety and hatred of my chest for over ten years and never spoken openly about it with someone. I wish I took the time even to talk about my experience on this forum. It's not shameful to have gynaecomastia, and I was surprised about the support I've gotten from friends and from my family. But, on to what you're interested in...

THE CONSULTATION


Dr Norris' rooms are lovely. It is clearly a very high-end practice and, when it comes to making modifications to your body, this is not the sort of thing you want to skimp on. I waited only very briefly to see Dr Norris and then he came out, introduced himself and saw me into his rooms. He smiles, is friendly and has a lovely gentle manner. To tell a stranger about my experience was horrifying to me, but Dr Norris really made me feel at ease.

He asked me what I was there for and I told him. He listened thoughtfully and without judgement. He must hear about people in my condition all the time (he later told me he does a couple of surgeries every week for this condition) and yet he was inquisitive and patient with my story which is so similar to many of you on here.

He then asked me a number of questions. He asked me if I felt comfortable with my shirt off, if I would wear a tight white t-shirt, how long the issue had persisted and a whole raft of other questions. He took detailed notes. He then explained what causes gynaecomastia. He told me that, for someone like me who was overweight during puberty, hormonal imbalance can cause fat to collect at the chest and for tissue to grow within it, causing the formation of the male "breast". He told me that in many cases, gynaecomastia is not just fat but glandular tissue, which is why it can't be lost through diet and exercise. I told him that I had attempted to get rid of the "fat" on my chest through weight loss (I was 68/69 kg at one point in my life which is technically underweight for my height). He explained that gland was not fat and so it could not be reduced through diet and exercise. Only at the starvation point does the body consume protein, which would reduce gynaecomastia, but at the same time, cannibalise organs and other important parts of my body. This, he explained, is how anorexics die.

Then he asked me if it would be okay if I took off my shirt and stood in front of his mirror. The way he asked really struck me because, to be honest, it generally isn't okay. It's a terrifying prospect for me, but the way he asked suggested he understood. We looked at my chest together and he pointed out all the various features he could see. He noted stretch marks that run across my shoulders, the inframammary folds that are sometimes mentioned in this forums and my slightly larger-than-average nipples. He felt my chest and gave me his honest assessment.

He told me that I had real bilateral gynaecomastia. He said I had gland, a reasonable amount, as well as fat in areas that aren't ideal. He told me that it could be corrected with surgery and explained what he would do. Namely, the excision at the bottom of the areola through which the gland is removed and some small points under the arm pits through which vaser liposculpture is conducted to complete the "look". I asked about my slightly puffy nipples and he explained that because there is gland underneath them, blood runs through the nipples, causing them to be puffy. He asked me whether, when it is cold, the nipples constrict and suggested that removing the gland would be, in effect, like returning them to a state similar to this - this is because when it is cold, the blood does not rush through the gland. Once the gland is removed, there is no place through which the blood can move and so the puffiness reduces.

He explained that because I am young, the natural elasticity of my skin would respond well to the surgery and my chest would reform across its new contour, the nipple would likely reduce in size and reposition well. He also told me that he could remove the inframammary fold through loosening the fat underneath it which is good because it will look unnatural otherwise.
After this I dressed and he asked me if I had any questions. I asked him some questions about recovery but, honestly, I was so stressed out by the experience, I doubt I made any thoughtful observations or asked the right questions. He kept asking me: "do you have any more questions?" which, when I failed to produce, he said: "Well, you haven't asked me about risks..." he then proceeded to explain to me what the risks of the procedure are which I won't talk about here as it's well-covered in other posts.

I want to make one important point: he told me that if I wanted to, I could walk out of seeing him that morning and go and make an appointment for surgery, but he would discourage me from doing so. He told me that if the only thing I got out of the consultation that day was the sense that I didn't want to have a surgery, then he would feel like he had done a good job. But, if in a few days I had decided it was the right choice for me, that he would be my surgeon. I got the sense that he had assessed me just as much as I had assessed him. I felt completely comfortable with him.

Then I went to talk with his lovely assistant who explained the finer details of the costs. I don't want to post them here but I am happy to speak privately with anyone who is interested. After a few days, I called back and booked a surgery.
  
My surgery is next week.. I am a little behind on posting, but I know how valuable these accounts are so I will also write about my second consultation before then. I hope this is useful to you all, I would love to hear some feedback and happy to answer any questions. :)

Hey man, do you mind PMing me. I've been looking into Dr Norris but wouldn't mind knowing what the cost is for you.....

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Offline rajek

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2016, 07:58:19 AM »
I see lots of lurkers but no commenters. That was me once, so I'm going to assume that someone is reading and that this helps someone. I can't tell you how valuable accounts such as this one have been to me on the road to surgery.

SECOND CONSULTATION

My second appointment with Dr Norris was about a week ago. I was met by his lovely practice manager who asked me "are you nervous?" I was kind of shocked by the question because it was so direct, but she clearly wanted an answer. I thought about it and told her "yes, if I'm honest." She said "it would be strange if you weren't." And smiled. It helped me remember that this is something many hundreds of people go through every year. If you look at these forums, the posters are few but the readers are many. I told myself: remember, this surgery is common, not extraordinary.

I was only a little early and Dr Norris saw me right on time. I really appreciate that, because it suggests that he plans his day to accommodate his patients and he probably knows I spend my time in his waiting room running over anxieties. He came out, showed me into his office and began the consultation.

First he read over all the notes from my previous session and asked me at the end if that was an accurate reflection of our discussion. I said yes and he asked me if I had any follow up questions. At my first consultation I hardly asked any because I was overwhelmed enough just by going through the experience. This time, I was prepared. I took out my phone, excused myself for referring to the list and then started shooting out my questions:

THE LIST OF QUESTIONS

  • As a candidate for this surgery, what's my profile like? Good or bad?

    Because I'm young, fit and healthy, he said I was a very good candidate for surgery. He mtioned elasticity in skin as being central and also noted that it was good that I don't drink (excessively) or smoke (big no-no for surgery recovery)

  • What can I do to improve my results?

    As a candidate, apparently there isn't much. Don't overdo it. Rest up. Practice self-care. The sort of stuff any surgeon would say to a patient.

  • Why do people need revision surgery?
  • What characteristics would, to your mind, constitute unsatisfactory results?

    Dr Norris noted tethering and saurcering (sp?) as the main issues.

  • How do you excise glands?
  • Can gland regrow?
  • Will I have drains?

    Lots of guys on this forum have drains. Dr Norris said that they're mostly unhygienic and don't really help much.

  • What kind of lipo do you use?

    Dr Norris uses "vaser", about which there is a lot written. He said it's very good (maybe the best?) but that there's much of a muchness between models and its largely marketing. Any proposed special feature is just mumbo-jumbo. He said some people market vaser as being about to break down gland but that this is untrue.

    He also uses the term 'liposculpture' because he doesn't use it to assist in weight loss. He uses it to re-contour existing fat to give a more natural aesthetic, not to help people lose weight. I've seen some people (especially cosmetic surgeons) marketing lipo for this purpose.

  • What are your accreditations as a plastic surgeon?
  • What is the difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon?
  • What kind of training do you do as a plastic surgeon?
  • Did you learn to treat gynaecomastia in school or on the job?

    This one was very important to me. I wanted to know whether you're trained in the surgery, or whether it's just a luxury item plastic surgeons pick up on the job to churn out for cash. If this is the case, I figured it'd be more likely that there would be a diversity in techniques.

    Dr Norris said "Of course, it's a pathological issue. You learn it in your training." This to me was significant because it highlighted that there is an established practice around how gynaecomastia is identified and treated.

  • When did you first start treating gynaecomastia?
  • Why did you become a plastic surgeon?
BACK TO THE CONSULTATION

I thought Dr Norris was very patient with me to answer such a long list of questions, but he did so patiently and gave a lot of detail. He explained things very simply and didn't treat any of them as silly questions. Sometimes I more or less repeated myself and he was patient with that too.

One additional question came to mind. I asked him how many people he treats for gynaecomastia and he told me that it was a very common procedure in his practice, the most common for men (I think?) and that he did a few a week. He then got out his little diary and read to me how many he was doing a week. I estimate he does between two and three a week (keep in mind most surgeons only do one day of surgery a week and the rest is consultations etc).

After I'd exhausted my questions, Dr Norris asked to take some pre-op photos. He ran over what he was going to do with the procedure and then asked me again if I had any questions. He was consistently inviting me to ask him any questions.

I asked him again about revision surgery. He told me that a lot of the cases he deals with are revisions of other people's surgeries. He explained that his practice was very high end (it's not the cheapest treatment you can get in Sydney) and so he felt there was a certain standard to which he was accountable and that it was very unlikely that I would need a revision surgery under his hands. He clearly takes a lot of pride in his work and is willing to stand by his results which made me feel comfortable. I was measured for a compression garment and off i popped.

Now, it's surgery time...

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Offline froob

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2016, 09:49:50 PM »
Awesome writeup Rajek, definitely keep us updated on the progress.
Im personally leaning towards canceling my surgery with Dr Ajaka (losing a small deposit) and scheduling a date with Dr Norris. This just feels like the right decision, as Dr Ajaka was very rushed and dismissive in the consultations which didn't make me feel very confident in his abilities.


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Offline rajek

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2016, 03:12:59 PM »
Awesome writeup Rajek, definitely keep us updated on the progress.
Im personally leaning towards canceling my surgery with Dr Ajaka (losing a small deposit) and scheduling a date with Dr Norris. This just feels like the right decision, as Dr Ajaka was very rushed and dismissive in the consultations which didn't make me feel very confident in his abilities.
I will absolutely let you know what my results are like. So far I can only say the nicest things about Dr Norris.

I was in your boat a couple of months ago. I made a split second decision to see Dr Ajaka and decided it was the wrong choice. He has no positive reviews for this treatment, which is one thing, but he's not a plastic surgeon so if something goes wrong, there's nothing really you can do. There's a 60 Minutes story on Cosmos Clinic, I think, claiming that they put people under what is effectively general anaesthesia without an anaesthetist present to do it which is obviously more dangerous

Do you mind if I ask how old you are? The reason I ask is that I am wondering if you've got time to save up a little or whether it has to be now. If you're approaching an age where you're less of a good candidate, I can understand the need to act quickly, but if you're young it may be worth waiting. :) 

The main reason I decided to pay more is that I only want to do this once. I have to live with my new chest for the rest of my life, and I want to love it. A few thousand dollars either way is nothing against the value of that.


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Offline rajek

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2016, 08:05:33 PM »
THE DAY BEFORE SURGERY


Yesterday was the day before my surgery. I wasn't feeling stressed, but it was hard to be focused on anything too stimulating and I was feeling a bit emotional. 

It sound stupid, but my "man boobs" have been part of my life for so long, I have sort of grown to accept them, up to a point. Before I committed to getting the surgery, I just always assumed I would have them. I pictured a future with them. I have a whole wardrobe filled with clothes designed to hide them. I've even learnt things from them. I think they made me more resilient. I think they taught me to believe that there's a lot more to me than how I look. I have a few things to be grateful for. 

My entire past is filled with stories about things I've done, or not done, to avoid having to expose myself. I never did anything that required me to wear a t-shirt, let alone take off my clothes in public. There's a lot of pain connected with this condition. 

So the thought that, from tomorrow, that part of my life could be over, was a little difficult to process. I took myself shopping and tried to imagine what it would be like to shop without having to worry about concealing my chest. 

When I got home, I spent a good five minutes just looking at myself in the mirror.

I felt very sad all day and hardly slept that night. 

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Offline froob

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2016, 08:49:01 PM »
I think we can all relate you here! All the best with the surgery, waking up after general anesthetic will be a great as there will be a 'load off your chest'...  :) :)

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Offline rajek

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Re: Surgery in Sydney shortly - Dr Ben Norris
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2016, 01:44:10 AM »
THE SURGERY

I was on in the afternoon and had to fast from the time I got up so it was a very long day. I turned up at the hospital and waited a couple of hours to be taken through. It was a very smooth experience. An admissions nurse went over my files, had me change into the surgical gowns and then I had to wait in bed to be called.
The anaesthetist's nurse came out and spoke to me and asked me a few questions. She explained everything that was going to happen during the procedure and then told me Dr Norris would come and see me, then the anaesthetist and then it'll be showtime. Dr Norris came a while later and asked me how I was feeling. He was very friendly as he has always been and asked me to stand up while he drew on me. He used an Artline pen which I thought was funny because I've got the same one at home. The lines they draw on you are to show what the body should look like and how it does look when you are standing up. When you are laying on the operating table, things move around.
Then the anaesthetist came and spoke to me. He observed that I was nervous, but he was cool as a cucumber. Cheerful, funny and generally very calming. I really appreciated what he did for me. By and large, the experience is a lot of going over the same information again and again (which is understandable) and then suddenly you're on the operating table. They plug you up with some drugs and the next minute you're in recovery. I guess the miracle of general anaesthetic is that one minute you're there - the next minute you're somewhere else and a lot has changed. Forever. For good.

IN RECOVERY

I awake pretty groggy. Groggier than I can remember being after general anaesthesia before. Also in, I have to admit, a bit of pain. It's not a lot... It's not distracting, I keep forgetting it's there, but every now and then - a movement, a cough, a deep breath and - you remember.

The first thing I notice is the compression vest. I thought it was going to be like wearing a tight t-shirt but that doesn't even come close! You can't even pull it around it's so tight. There is (I assume) a lot of swelling, and there's some padding over my nipples which creates some small bulges there (visible through the compression) and this makes it feel extra tight. But despite that... as I look down... totally flat. Normal. My chest.

It's an incredible feeling. I'm so used to seeing breasts there that as I look down, I am imagining there to be bumps. I'm looking at the surgical dressings and wondering whether they conceal a breast that got forgotten. Totally irrational, but my mindset is so hung up in the idea that I am someone who has "man boobs".

I am someone who has had "man boobs". No longer.

After an hour they bring me some food, I absolutely wolf it down and I'm discharged. A friend picks me up and we catch an Uber home (very surgery in the 21st century). I'm exhausted.

AFTER HOSPITAL

Moving around isn't much of a pain... I can't really dress myself without assistance which is, annoying, if you have to use your pecs at all you feel a bit of pain... but by and large there isn't much pain. Mostly discomfort and the frustration of wearing the compression garment. I already can't wait to take it off. I get to have my first shower tonight which is a terrifying prospect... I wonder what I'll look like...
I can hardly keep my eyes open. My face looks like a zombie's. I drift off into restless sleep.


xx
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