Author Topic: From Living With The "Shame" To Being Free. Gynecomastia Gone At 22 - My Story..  (Read 2551 times)

Offline jakewardell

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I've lurked around this forum for years without contributing a single thing so it's time to change that. Here's my gynecomastia story...

(I wrote it for an upcoming website and it's a long one so bear with me!)

For me, it started about 12 years ago at the ripe old age of just ten.

As I write that, it’s almost difficult to believe that gynecomastia was psychologically effecting me before I’d even left junior school but that’s how it was.

The first time my chest was brutally brought to my attention was on the school playground.

Having left the comforts of playing football during my lunch breaks due to preferring to hang around with girls in order to cement my status as “one of the cool kids” I’d now accidentally put myself in the “firing line” and it wouldn’t be too long before something I’d previously been unaware of would play on my mind every single day for just over a decade.

It was the first of several rude awakenings.

That day I’d had to revert to what I’d call my “emergency school uniform”.

For some reason I couldn’t find a school polo shirt that had been bought in the recent past so I had to dig out one that I’d probably not worn since year five out of the cupboard.

It was noticeably smaller than the ones I usually wore and apparently, it drew a lot more attention to the shape of my chest.

As I strolled around the playground laughing and joking with a few of the other kids, one girl (who I still don’t have much time for) decided to point at me and say…

“Look, he’s got bigger boobs than any of the girls in the school”.

Now, I don’t know if this comment was brought on by the barrage of sex education classes we’d been in that term or she just fancied being mean that day.

Either way, it hurt.

And it inadvertently started my shirt on at all times policy which has only recently been abandoned since the surgery.

It’s a policy that I know a lot of gynecomastia sufferers adopt so maybe you can relate.

I’d love to say that that’s the only miserable story I have in my locker but of course, there’s plenty more.

I could probably class the whole of secondary school as a miserable story in truth.

Tell anyone without gynecomastia that something as simple as getting changed for a P.E lesson is a traumatic experience that you have to endure several times a week and they’d probably think you had a screw loose but I couldn’t possibly count the amount of times I lost sleep over that.

Throw in a healthy dose of bullying throughout my five years at the school and a difficult home life on top of that and yep…

Secondary school was a living nightmare that even now is a struggle to relive.

Kids in general are pretty savage creatures.

They don’t understand the true effect that their snide remarks have on other kids.

They don’t have the ability to empathize with other kids.

And they’re certainly not aware that what they deem as a “funny” comment is eating somebody else up.

At my rough, comprehensive all boys school I definitely learned this the hard way.

I’m not necessarily saying I’d change the experience but…

Yeah, I’d probably change it!

During this era, my self-conciousness and general self-loathing weren’t just exaggerated by what was happening at school…

It was outside of that setting where my insecurity PEAKED.


Once they arrived on the scene, I now had a whole new set of worries.

Would they notice? Would they make comments? Would they talk to each other about it?

All of the above crossed my mind frequently.

This level of natural paranoia along with my insistence on believing that no girl in the history of the world could possibly be interested in a guy with “moobs” led me to being unsuccessful with women for a long time.

On the few occasions someone did like me, I made damn sure I’d hit the self-destruct button before it got anywhere as I didn’t want my chest on display for any reason.

Not even for sex!

Looking back, a lot of this insecurity was probably quite irrational as sometimes people do just like you for who you are rather than for what you look like but at the time, avoiding “intimate” situations seemed the most rational thing to do.

The result of this?

Having to watch all my friends have the time of their lives whilst they were at school.

They’d have girlfriends.

They’d talk about what they got up to with their girlfriends.

And I’d never be able to contribute to the conversation.

I have vivid memories of standing around in these conversations kind-of-awkwardly hoping nobody would bring it to the group’s attention that I had the sex of life of a plant.

Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t.

It was pretty soul-destroying and I only ever blamed one thing.

My gynecomastia.

Of course there could have been a hundred other reasons for my shortcomings in that area of life but all of those seemed irrelevant as in my head if I had a normal chest, I’d have no worries in life.

And at seventeen, I made my first step towards having “no worries”.

Enough was enough.

I decided to talk about it for the first time.

Now, even though I didn’t actually have the surgery for five long years after this initial conversation I believe it to be one of the more important conversations I’ve ever had.

I was still suffering at this stage but at least I wasn’t suffering in silence.

As a man, talking about gynecomastia out loud is ALWAYS uncomfortable.

It’s embarrassing at best, totally emasculating at worse.

It does HAS to be done though.

I decided that a quick conversation with my mum and a slightly longer one with my doctor was the most comfortable way to deal with discomfort.

“So, I’m going to the doctor later today because I’m worried about the shape of my chest. It’s been stressing me out for too long now and I need to do something about it” I nervously said in the kitchen.

She replied with something along the lines of…

“Okay, well are you sure you it won’t just go away when you’re a bit older. Also have you considered that it’s not THAT important and people live with far worse?”

Fair point (if you don’t have a clue what it’s like to live with gynecomastia).

I can’t remember what my exact response was but I knew two things for definite then…

It wasn’t going away on its own and nothing except surgery was going to work
I wasn’t going to “learn to live with it”
I just didn’t see why I should have too.

Most guys don’t have to worry about taking their shirt off, having sex or wearing nicely fitted t-shirts so why should I?

That was my attitude and I’m glad it was as let me tell you this…

Learning to live with it is a terrible idea.

If you have gynecomastia, you need to have surgery.

That should be the end of any conversation on the matter.

No further discussion required.

More confidence.

A healthier look.

More energy.

The weight of the world off your shoulders.

And that’s just the start.

The world is an incredibly different place once you’ve had the surgery.

But that’s a story for another day.

Back to my initial meeting with my doctor…

“Well, it’s abundantly clear you have gynecomastia but you’re probably best waiting until you’re 18 as most surgeons don’t like operating on patients before then…”

“Oh and you can’t have it done on the NHS anymore so you’ll have to do it privately. Not much I can do for you I’m afraid”

So a pretty unproductive doctors appointment in all.

The advice was to wait a year and then write a cheque for about £6,000.

It suddenly dawned on me that I was going to have to live with this for at least another year.

Even if I could find a surgeon that would operate on someone still deemed a “child” I didn’t have £5-6k spare and my parents certainly didn’t.

I resigned myself to being stuck with the “life-destroyer” for another year at least.

And that year things went from bad to much worse.

Having got myself into a “rut” and general state of depression because I was still for all intents and purposes “a loser” in the eyes of most I’d managed to make a series of bad decisions.

Firstly, I’d taken a job that I was nowhere near cut out to do so I was wearing a constant headache.

Secondly, the combination of my rut and job had led to some pretty serious weight gain.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye I’d rocketed from a healthy 14 stone to a seriously unhealthy 19 st 8 lbs.

If I thought my gynecomastia was bad as a healthy guy, it had moved onto a different level entirely now.

This coincided with the death of a close family member so in short I’d not just hit an all time low, I’d now dived into the crevasse.

The only nice thing about hitting this kind of low point is that the only was is well and truly up.

It’s just not possible to sink any further.

From there, the comeback was on and this time there would be no half-measures when it came to freeing myself of gynecomastia or anything else for that matter.

It wasn’t until two years after that thought that everything really started to shape.

Having just got back from 4 months of work (and mostly play) in Thailand I decided it was time to hit the gym.

As a gynecomastia sufferer I tended to avoid the beach whenever I could.

Rather than seeing it as a great place to have fun and relax, I saw it as hell on earth.

It was a place that exposed my “female side” more than any other and it just seemed to breed more and more insecurity in me.

That feeling, the wrench in my stomach I got from going shirtless on the beach to have a swim was a feeling that for some reason stayed with me for the whole duration of my 15 hour flight home from Malaysia.

Still the best part of 20 stone, I sat in my tiny, little seat in economy.

Half thinking about my boobs and stomach falling into the chair next to me, half thinking about how I was going to fix this I decided about 10 hours into the flight that I was going to head to Cornwall and shift the weight.

Still very aware of my gynecomastia, I wondered whether losing a bucket-ton of weight would free me of it.

Deep down I knew it wouldn’t.

I’d have to cross that bridge when I came too it.

Initial progress was slow.

I was in the gym most days but I was still eating badly.

I think two months in I was only down around a stone.

A month later I was down two stone.

I looked in the mirror and thought “Jeez, I’ve lost two stone and I still look terrible”.

It was demoralizing but I stuck with it and I’m glad I did.

By the time 12 months had passed I’d lost 6 stone, 6 lbs.

90 lbs!

I don’t think I’d ever looked better.

But I still had one massive hang-up.

The gynecomastia was still there and if anything, it was more noticeable and more destructive than ever.

I’d spent 2 hours a day in the gym, 5 days a week for a year.

I’d play a good 10 hours of tennis every week too.

Eventually I got pretty good – I even managed to hit it over the net a few times!

But all that hard work felt like it was for nothing.

I knew there was a relatively simple solution to the problem.

The only “catch” was that this simple solution still cost thousands and despite my success in the weight loss arena, my career was a different story entirely.

My response was to (stupidly) decide to live with it and come to terms with the fact that this is what I was going to look like until I croaked.

This change in mindset actually worked out okay for about 12 months.

In the spirit of “moving on” I’d gone from a hugely unsuccessful freelancer in the copywriting industry (that’s writing marketing spiel in simple terms) to having too much work thanks to being dubbed “one of the best young commercial writers in the world”.

I’d left home and moved to Brussels, Belgium so I could see a bit more of Europe.

I’d even started to attract women.

It was all pretty bizarre.

Was I finally happy as a man with gynecomastia?


The Straw That Broke The Camels Back

It’s now January 2014.

For most people, that means it’s New Year’s Resolution time.

Usually, “Get Rid of Gynecomastia” would be top of the list.

Not this year.

I didn’t even bother to write one.

If I had of done it would have simply read “Get The Girl”.

A few months prior to my move to Belgium I’d met someone.

For the first time in my relatively existence I’d met someone that made the whole gynecomastia thing seem irrelevant.

I may have hit the self destruct button on numerous occasions before but not now.

I was going to deal with it.

And she wasn’t going to care.

That’s how this was going to go down.

The only slight flaw in my plan was that she had a boyfriend.

I never really saw this as my problem so I carried on pursuing it anyway despite the fact I no longer lived in the UK and had absolutely no clue how this was ever going to work.

It seemed a minor detail at the time and it was because by the time January had turned into February I was back in the UK and we were together.

For the first time in a very, very long time I had nothing to complain about.

I was healthy, reasonably successful and I had a very attractive girlfriend.

There was no real need to want for more.

Yet I wanted for more.

If I was ever going to learn to live gynecomastia that time was now.

The Mrs wasn’t bothered by it at all.

And really…

It shouldn’t have bothered me but it did.

I don’t know if it was the sex or just the burning desire to be a better version of myself for her as well as myself that made me more aware of it than ever but if my gynecomastia hadn’t reached “code red” before it was now vastly approaching.

About a month into our relationship I emailed a few surgeons.

I could afford to have it done in the UK but I really didn’t love the idea of paying £5k for something I could get done for £2k.

My thinking was that I could either pay the ridiculous UK cost and be done with it OR have it done abroad, save £3k and spend the savings on a great holiday.

I chose the latter.

I then got to work on finding the best overseas gynecomastia surgery.

After hours of Googling myself silly, looking at various surgeons based everywhere from India to Turkey, reading success stories on forums and generally investigating this whole “overseas surgery” business with the precision of a world class FBI agent I only ever came to one conclusion.

It was going to be Dr Ostrawska-Clark and it was going to be the -- Clinic, Poland.

Her success stories, her work and her credentials stood head and shoulders above the rest.

And make no mistake, nothing other than “her” really came into it.

I know a lot of people look into having gynecomastia surgery abroad because they’re shopping for the best price but that HAS to be the second most important factor in the decision.

Cheap surgery by a bad surgeon isn’t value for money at any price.

I went for the only place that I believed could produce the same quality as the UK.

I didn’t feel as though any of the other clinics I looked at (and there were a lot of them) could offer that.

Before I knew it I was booked in.

The end of the nightmare was now in sight.

In less than 90 days time I’d be free of gynecomastia.

Seemed like cause for celebration to me.

With the money I’d saved on having it done in the UK I headed out to Cape Town, South Africa for a month.

I dived with Great White Sharks, went on safari, climbed up numerous mountains and generally just gave my gynecomastia one hell of a “going away” party.

By the time that party finished it was nearly time.

July 2nd 2014 had crept up on me and I was on a plane to Berlin, Germany ready for my surgery in Szczenin, Poland the next day.

(You fly to Berlin because it’s on the border).

In a little over 24 hours time I’d be waking up post-op and I’d be gynecomastia free.

What happened next?

Well, the surgery was incredibly successful.

You’ll have to read about The Day of The Surgery Here…

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for my relationship.

That’s over.

But I’m gynecomastia free so honestly…

Who cares? :-)

Offline zhengzhoujoe

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Great story, very similar to mine. I grew up in sunny hot Los Angeles , so taking our shirts off is normal for guys. Which was a horrible thing for me. Around 12 I noticed my Gyno and would never take me shirt off. In California we do a lot of outdoor activities like water balloon fights, surf, go to the beach, pool parties, and play with sprinklers. I used to do all that until I started getting picked on for my moobs. So it's been 12 years since I have done any of those things and yes, I miss it a lot. I want to know what it feels to go to the beach and take my shirt off without thinking a million times about my moobs and feeling very scared. I have always wanted to learn how to surf but due to my moobs I never have.... I also went to doctors when I was about 17 or 18 and they all told me by 21 my moobs would disappear. They were wrong I am going on 25 and I work out, go to the gym, and eat fairly healthy but they are still there....

I also go to school full time and have a part time job, I want to get a credit card or loan for the surgery any suggestions on how that works? I live in Atlanta Georgia USA now.


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