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My Gynecomastia Story - Surgery at 38 years old - January 2013

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My Gynecomastia Story - Surgery at 38 years old - January 2013
« on: January 09, 2013, 05:53:30 AM »
My name is Brandon and I am 38 years old.  I live in southern California, in the Greater Los Angeles area, where the ocean, mountains and desert are all within an hours drive and the weather is typically mild almost all year round.  I am an Airport Customer Service Agent for a major airline.  I love to travel, and my career has allowed me to travel frequently, and to many amazing and beautiful places.  I love hiking in the mountains, but I also love the ocean and the beach.  I have been fortunate to have traveled to Hawaii many times, as well as many Mexican beach and Caribbean destinations.  It’s unfortunate, when I have traveled to these amazing places, that I rarely even venture into the beautiful waters.  

I am hoping in a few months that I will no longer be afraid to go into the water, be it the beach, a pool, or a hot tub.  No, I don’t have a fear of water.  Contrary to what my friends might think, I actually love water, pools, and the beach.  The easiest way to make me avoid a social function, however, would be if it was a pool party.  I avoid any type of activity where everyone wears a swimsuit, where I might be expected to take my shirt off.  I want to avoid at all costs any stares, looks, or comments from anyone who might see my bare chest.    

I don’t take my shirt off because of my chest.  Since puberty, I have had larger than normal breasts.  In adulthood, I learned there was actually had a term for my condition.  This term is Gynecomastia.  I don’t remember exactly how old I was when it began to be a problem, but I remember my best friend and I talking about our “boobs” when we were about 14.  Fortunately for my friend, his went away.  It’s common for boys to have this problem I now know, but for most of them, it’s just a temporary part of growing up.  For me it was not.   One of my earliest memories where it really bothered me was when I was 14.  At the time, I lived in the Midwest and was visiting family here in California.  We went to the beach and the pool, and my younger relatives made some comment, something like “you’ve got boobs.”  They found it quite amusing.  I did not.  My younger cousin and  niece did not mean it in a hurtful way at all, but it was very hurtful and was the only the beginning of my long of time dealing with Gynecomastia.  

It’s very difficult emotionally, growing up as a boy with boobs.  Though it’s been quite a long time ago for me now, I was teased growing up.  Having Gynecomastia takes away much your self-confidence.  In my case, I avoided almost any situation that would require me to remove my shirt, whether it would be water sports, or even regular sports or intimacy.  Growing up, I honestly knew of no one else who had this problem.  That makes one feel very alone.  In my youth, I wore a jacket nearly all day long when it was winter, and probably as long into the spring as I could get by.  I lived in the Midwest then, so the winters could be a long season, lucky for me.  If I didn’t wear a jacket, I wore loose-fitting shirts, button-up collared shirts were the best to hide my chest.  I also know I had terrible posture growing up, as I stood with my shoulders held in, to hide my chest.  I often wonder if this helped contribute to the back pain I experience today.  I was too embarrassed to talk to anyone about my chest, not even my family.  Of course they had to know about it, but we never talked about it.  I never knew surgery to correct it existed back then, and even if I did, my family could not have afforded it.  

I somehow survived high school and college, and did well academically.  I struggled off and on with my weight into adulthood.  I was never thin, but I was never extremely overweight, but I honestly believed for many years if I lost a lot of weight and worked out enough that I could cure my Gynecomastia.  Over the years, I learned that though losing weight would indeed make my breasts smaller, it would never solve my problem completely.  It took many years for me to realize that my breasts were not my fault, and any amount of diet and exercise were not going to “cure” me.  

About fifteen or so years ago, when the internet was fairly new, by surfing it I found out my condition did have a name (Gynecomastia), and that there were actual surgeries to correct it.  At the time, I still lived in the Midwest, and the doctor I found was in southern California.  I ordered a brochure (back then the internet was very basic) and kept it for many years, hoping someday I might be able to save enough money to have the surgery, even if it was in a far away place.    

Dealing with Gynecomastia as an adult was a little easier I suppose.  I guess it seems easier to deal with because I adapted my lifestyle to deal with it the best I could.  One of the ways I dealt with it was the choice of clothing I wore.  Typically, baggy clothing worked best, as one might think.  I never wore anything tight around my chest and rarely a t-shirt.  My favorite shirt of choice over the years was a button-up collared shirt. The bowling shirt style or Hawaiian shirt style were my favorite, as they were okay to wear not tucked in.  If I wore a shirt that needed to be tucked in, I had to buy a larger size to accommodate my upper chest, so there was always lots of material hanging out above my waist.  When shopping for clothes, it was mandatory that I had to try everything on, as was very difficult getting clothing to fit well.  I rarely wore t-shirts or any kind of clothing that was all cotton, or knit, as my chest would not be hidden.  

A few years ago (thanks again to the internet) I actually learned about compression shirts…tight fitting t-shirts and tank tops that compressed your chest.  The tight fabric of the compression shirts make your chest compressed and keep your breasts from flopping around.  These shirts cost from about $20-35 each, but when I started wearing them, it made me feel so much better and confident about myself.  I was even able to wear clothing that I stopped wearing years ago, such a t-shirts and polo shirts.  

Wearing compression shirts has become part of my daily life and routine, just like putting in my contacts or wearing eye glasses.  I rarely leave my home without a compression shirt or compression tank top on underneath.  I have an entire drawer of different styles and colors of them.  Although they have helped me tremendously, wearing a compression shirt every day was very uncomfortable, and I often would dread doing it.  I would often say to myself “time to put your bra on.”  Although wearing compression shirts is an alternative to surgery and providing a better quality of life (as it has for me) it doesn’t fix all situations, and they are very uncomfortable.  I am so looking forward to throwing them out.  

A compression shirt doesn’t help out in the social situations such as water activities, or even confidence with intimacy.   I have gone in pools or the ocean over the years, but I would almost always have a t-shirt or tank top on.  It’s not such a big deal going in, but when you come out of the water, it’s like a very unpleasant wet t-shirt contest.  I admit I was asked to leave a hot tub once, because I had “non-swimwear” (t-shirt) on, which was not allowed.  

 I’ve lived in a community with a pool for the last 12 years, and haven’t been in the pool once.  I have been fortunate to travel to many beautiful beach destinations, such as Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean.  I have admired a lot of beautiful inviting pools and beaches that I never set foot in.  I often think about how much fun it would be to enjoy being in a hot tub with my friends.  I long to enjoy those places and things like most everyone does, but I rarely do, because I don’t want anyone to see me and my chest.  I have spent many times laying out at the beach or pool with my tank top on.  As I said, I will occasionally go in the water with my tank top on, but it’s not very attractive when I come out.  

It feels so nice to be in the water without a shirt on.  On rare occasions, when it’s dark, or a pool is completely deserted, I would venture in without a shirt.  If I’m there in the water without a shirt, and someone shows up, I suddenly get terrified, and have to plan my exit very carefully.  I will exit the water when hopefully no one is looking, and often will cover my chest with my arms until I can get a towel over myself.  

Because of my Gynecomastia, I avoided any situation where I would have to take off my shirt.  I went for a period of over ten years of adulthood without visiting a doctor for even a check up (even though I had health insurance).  I stayed away, mainly because it was inevitable that in an exam, I would have to take off my shirt, and that would be traumatic.  About three or four years ago, I was finally gave in to persuasion and did go for an exam.  That moment did arise when he asked me to take off my shirt.  This was my moment of complete dread.  I remember saying something out loud like “this is the part I really don’t like.”  My doctor was very compassionate to my situation, and has suggested over time more than once that I might want to consider the surgery to correct the Gynecomastia.  My response was often that I really did want to do it, but I was just waiting till I lose more weight.  

Why did I decide to finally have a consultation and to have the surgery to correct Gynecomastia?   It was a combination of many things.  The main reason is that I finally accepted the fact that diet and exercise alone was never going to correct my chest, and I was not getting any younger.  My Primary Care Physician’s support of a surgery decision was helpful to me.  After unsuccessfully trying to save enough for my surgery for years, I also found affordable financing that was available to me, which helped me make the final decision to go for the consultations.  

After I made the decision to go in for a consultation, I did a lot of research on line.  I wanted to make sure that the surgeon I chose specialized in Gynecomastia, so I could put my complete trust in a most positive result.  I came upon Dr. Cruise's website.  I liked that he was very specialized in this type of surgery, and I also liked that he seemed to show compassion towards his Gyneomastia patients.  The consultation was a very positive experience for me.  After a few days, another consultation with another surgeon, and a few answered questions, I made the decision to set a surgery date with Dr. Cruise.  

I have hopes of someday being about to completely enjoy going to a pool, hot tub, or beach.  To do so it would mean being able to take off my shirt without complete fear.  It would be nice to be able to buy clothes that hang right and fit well, and not have to wear a compression shirt every day.   I dream of having self-confidence and not worrying about whether someone notices how big and abnormal my chest is.  I am hoping for the very best results as possible with this surgery.  I hope after it’s all over that I can tell young men not to wait to have it done, to do it while you’re still young, so you can enjoy your youth completely as you should.  I will be having my surgery in January 2013.  

Linkback: https://www.gynecomastia.org/smf/index.php?topic=26921.0


Offline sjwsjw

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Re: My Gynecomastia Story (two weeks prior to surgery)
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2013, 10:50:05 AM »
Best of luck with the surgery mate.

I'm a couple of days short of being 6 weeks post op and I feel like a different person already. Feels like a new world just opened up to me. It takes time to heal, I'm not even close to the end result but I'm on my way and the improvement I have now is massive in terms of the psychological side of things. I used to basically 'hug' cushions when I sat down to hide it, hunch when I walk, dress in dark baggy clothes and live in my jackets. I still sometimes find myself subconsciously hiding my chest forgetting that I don't need to any more.

Just remember healing takes up to 12 months for the final result. You're gunna have so many changes happen to your chest practically daily after but just go with it and enjoy what you have as things settle. Hardest part for me was the first week. Take things easy, look after yourself, it's a few careful weeks investment but the best one you'll make!

Re: My Gynecomastia Story (two weeks prior to surgery)
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2013, 02:57:09 AM »
Hey there...thanks for the words... I appreciate it.  I'm glad to hear you're doing well.  I do expect it takes a while to realize that you really look different.  My surgery is only a week away now, and I am getting quite excited.  All the best to you for your continued recovery. 

Re: My Gynecomastia Story (two weeks prior to surgery)
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 04:13:42 AM »
Here's a photo of my chest, two days prior to surgery.  I am hoping for the best results, and hoping I will have the motivation to get into great shape after recovery. 

Re: My Gynecomastia Story (two weeks prior to surgery)
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 04:24:24 AM »
One more photo prior to surgery. 

Re: My Gynecomastia Story (two weeks prior to surgery)
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2013, 11:50:01 PM »
Update on my surgery.  I had my surgery on January 18, 2013.  The whole experience was excellent.  I can't say enough wonderful things about the Surgery Center and the staff at Newport Beach Center for Surgery.  I was given the I.V. fluids and I didn't realize they had given me the Verced and I remember getting a little giggly, and the next thing I know they were waking me up.  I could not believe it was all over in a snap.  My surgery started about 8am and they were waking me up about 11am.  I had a tear in my eye, I think in disbelief that this was finally done...something I had been considering for more than 15 years.  My only discomfort was that my throat was slightly sore (from the breathing tube). 

I have say that I could not believe how good I felt after surgery.  I had zero nausea, which I guess was helpful.  I went back to the hotel (we stayed the night before and after at a hotel to make things more convenient, as traffic can be pretty terrible between my house and Newport Beach sometimes) and had lunch (banana, juice, a piece of pizza and all my pills).  A little while later we took a walk around the hotel grounds.  Took pictures of how good I was feeling...stuck my feet into the pool (for fun!).  My pain level was really good...the pain meds they had given must have been pretty great.  I knew at this time I wanted to go out to dinner that night.  I had brought a large button-down collared shirt that I wore, and tucked my drains in the pockets of my cargo shorts and off we went for BBQ.  My appetite was great and I felt excellent! 

The next day I went back to Dr. Cruise's office and they took off my bandage and we peeked at my completely flat chest.  I was in disbelief that I really did have a flat chest!  My gynecomastia was pretty extreme, so the procedure was pretty extreme too.  Dr. Cruise actually took breast tissue, a lot of skin, and my nipples/areolas were skin graphed to a higher position, and fat was removed under my arm area.  I was aware of how extensive the incisions I have In the initial consultation 2.5 months ago he had said he would not have to relocate the nipples, but at a later one, he said he had reconsidered and would review my photos for a final decision.  This of course, with my approval.  My only concern about this was the chance of losing an areola/nipple, but Dr. Cruise assured me this is extremely rare, and he has yet to lose one! 

My chest looked much better than I expected.  The incisions are all covered in tape, and there was a lot of bruising from the liposuction, but all in all it looked a bit better than I expected. 

The first couple of nights, I did not sleep well.  I basically felt wide awake.  It might have been the fact that I was not used to sleeping on my back, and with my body elevated.  The third night after I finally got some really great sleep, and it has not been bad ever since. 

My pain level has been at about a 2 on a scale of 10...I feel very fortunate.  I have had very little pain whatsoever. 

On the fifth day, I returned to Dr. Cruise's office and had my drains removed.  Honestly, this has been the most painful time of the entire experience (so far).  The first one came out with little pain, it just felt odd.  Then, I knew what was coming for the second one, so it was bracing for it, and I did feel some pain in my chest as the second drain was removed.  Having the drains out has been wonderful...I can move around much for freely now. 

I started driving on the 4th day after surgery, though I probably could have a little earlier.  As I said, my pain has been very minimal.  I've been out to dinner multiple times since my surgery (this written on the sixth day).  It is really great to get out of the house.  I'm treating this time off work like a vacation in a way...it really has felt like it.  I feel blessed that my experience has been so positive so far.  I will continue to update this, and hopefully it will be helpful to someone.  :)

Re: My Gynecomastia Story (two weeks prior to surgery)
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2013, 12:41:49 AM »
Tomorrow will be 10 days since my surgery on 01/18/2013.  I will return to Dr. Cruise's office.  I have been able to comfortably lift more.  I am still wearing the binder (compression vest).  I had the drains removed on the fifth day after surgery, and that was a relief, as I was able to move more freely without them.  My pain has been almost non-existent, a one or two on a scale of 10.  I can't be happier with the experience so far.  I hope I am as happy with the final results in a few months.  My incisions are quite extensive, much more than the normal I suppose as I had a lot of skin removed.  I think we will be removing sutures tomorrow.  It is my understanding that I will continue to wear the binder for quite a while longer, however I do hope that I will be able to remove it to at least shower.  I have not had a "complete" shower for almost 10 days now.


Offline sjwsjw

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Re: My Gynecomastia Story (two weeks prior to surgery)
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2013, 04:42:02 AM »
Congrats mate  :) I was lucky on the pain side of things too. A few uncomfortable movements but generally I expected worse.

Re: My Gynecomastia Story (two weeks prior to surgery)
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2013, 11:53:22 PM »
Dr. Cruise seem to have a good method. Do you know if he uses drains in all cases or just your case sense it was very extreme? Did you have general anesthesia?

Why is Dr. Cruise not a featured doctor on this website? I remember I was impressed at his methods.

Re: My Gynecomastia Story (two weeks prior to surgery)
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2013, 12:55:00 AM »
Yes, I had general anesthesia.  I'm not sure whether the drains are used in all cases, as usually they are taken out on the 2nd day, based on my initial information.  Dr. Cruise is on this site, I noticed there were some previous posts by him, but not for a while.  In fact, I was told that he did not specialize in Gynecomastia surgery until after he was on this site. 

Re: My Gynecomastia Story (two weeks prior to surgery)
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2013, 11:41:38 PM »
I'm now 17 days after surgery.  I feel really good.  The main challenge has been sleeping... as I'm not used to sleeping on my back.  I asked today if I could start sleeping on my side, and was told I could, as long as it did not hurt.  I had an appointment with Dr. Cruise today...they changed my bandages/tape, and I got a good look at all the incisions.  Every time I have gone in, we have taken many pictures so I can study them later when I have time.  I finally can take a real shower after seventeen days!  I am going to be wearing the compression vest for 8 weeks total, two weeks longer than the standard six. 

I am very very happy with the results so far.  I do have incisions that are quite long as Dr. Cruise removed a lot of skin.  I am just hoping in the end (1 year or 2?) that the scars will be minimal.  I guess time will tell. 

I really wish I had this surgery 10 or 15 years ago.  I never felt I could afford it, but I really could not have afforded it now any more than then (though I did not know it at the time of course).  My advice to anyone contemplating the surgery, but money holding them back... if you can swing the finances in any way, don't put off till later in life.  I feel so much better about my body, it's just amazing. 

Re: My Gynecomastia Story - Surgery at 38 years old - January 2013
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2013, 01:32:22 AM »
I am now 4 months after my surgery.  The shape of my chest is beginning to look more normal.  Until now, the incisions (sutures underneath the skin on the inside) sometimes made the incisions stick out, but everything is nearly laying completely flat now.  My the pigment color of my areolas/nipples fluctuate, from white-ish to normal color.  I am told eventually they should look normal colors.

I had an appointment with Dr. Cruise a couple weeks ago, and he injected some steroids into my incisions to help with the healing of the scars. 

I continue to be so glad I chose to have this surgery. 

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