Author Topic: My story / recent gynecomastia  (Read 5251 times)

Offline amethyst tint

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After giving it some thought, I've decided to start a thread in this section. My main reasons for starting a personal thread are:

- To help me better understand my condition
- To help me make good decisions (medical and otherwise) going forward
- To share information with others on this site
- To come to terms with what has been a frustrating experience (as it has been for anyone who has experienced gyne)

I will update this narrative when I have more time, but basically, what happened to me is that I consulted a traditional chinese medical (TCM) practitioner in Toronto about hair loss and some sleep issues (I have been diagnosed with mild depression or dysthymia, but had been coping pretty well during the last couple of years - I now have a good job, recently bought a car, am dating, and am looking for a new place to live).

The TCM practitioner gave me two types of herbal meds to take daily: (1) Trichogen (chinese name "Ban Tu Wan"), and (2) Biota Heart Nourishing ("Bai Zi Yang Xin Wan"). She also gave me Zinc and Selenium pills and some sort of tea to drink then and there. Finally, she massaged some sort of oil into my scalp, and administered acupuncture treatment and massage.

When I asked her about possible side effects, she said "what side effects?", said that unlike western medications, the TCM meds were only beneficial, and encouraged me to submit to "the treatment."

I took the pills for about four or five days, but decided to discontinue when I noticed some breast tissue growth. I think part of me was hyper-alert to this possibility, because I'd read about it as a possible side effect of propecia, which was the other medication I was considering taking. I went back for a couple of more acupuncture / head oil "treatments" with the practitioner but told her I had stopped the pills for the time being. She clearly wanted me to keep taking them, saying that I would only need to take them for a couple of months, but she respected my choice.

So, in total, I took the pills she prescribed for four or five days. I went to three or four acupuncture/massage/head oil/tea treatments. It's now been almost four months since my initial appointment with her, and I clearly have gynecomastia as a result. Thus far, the condition is relatively mild, but it's a significant change from where I was before. Talk about frustrating!

After about two months, I started taking photos of my condition every two or three weeks, just to keep track of any changes (and, in part, to reassure myself that it hasn't been getting worse). I think it did get a bit worse initially, with a bit more tissue and slightly puffier nipples. I'm hoping that it has mostly or completely stabilized, but it's hard for me to say for sure. This has been such an ordeal, and I confess that I'm paranoid my condition is going to get worse.

About three weeks after developing gyne, I went to see my family MD. He wasn't sure whether I had the G, but said it was hard for him to tell because he didn't have a baseline to compare from (at a recent follow-up appointment, he added that he's never had a gyne patient before, which could also explain his difficulty in making a diagnosis - it would have been nice to know this initially!). He even seemed a bit reluctant to examine my chest, which seemed odd to me. He did send me for a hormonal test - the test was done about two months after the initial onset, and about six weeks after I had stopped all TCM treatment. Everything (testosterone, prolactin (I think), and thyroid) tested within the normal range. I asked whether he thought it might be worth seeing an endocrinologist, and he thought it couldn't hurt, so he's going to refer me to someone - next week, hopefully.

In the meantime, after reading various threads on this site, I decided to consult Dr. Fielding in Toronto. He agreed that I have gynecomastia. He seemed confident that surgery could produce a good outcome, indicating that I would be in the "upper half" of patients in terms of prognosis, but said that because of my age (39), he wouldn't put me in the top 10% (i.e., because the body heals less efficiently as you get older). I asked him about before + after photos, and he said that for privacy and other reasons, he doesn't show photos to prospective patients. I know most PSs on this site recommend choosing a surgeon who has a range of before + after patient photos, but Dr. Fielding seems to be the exception to this rule.

At this point, I am strongly considering surgery at some point after the six-month mark, assuming that the condition doesn't improve on its own and that there are no red flags (such as continued growth or other symptoms). Ideally, I would like to consult with a couple of more PSs, but Dr. Fielding seems to be the go-to person in Canada. Other things being equal, I would prefer to have the surgery in Toronto (in part because I could avoid post-surgery travel). But I know other MDs have an excellent reputation. A lot of people have highly recommended Dr. Jacobs, and I am considering consulting him as well, although it would require a return trip or two to NYC. For me, the priority is absolutely being in the best possible surgical hands.

Gynecomastia has definitely taken a toll on me. I've managed to stay upbeat at work, and am putting on a brave face in general (I've started wearing a Design Veronique compression shirt on most days, which has really helped), but I feel demoralized, no question. It's as though my life, which in a lot of ways was just started to get untracked, has been put on hold, with the future still uncertain.

I will post more updates as things progress. Thanks for reading. Meanwhile, any reader comments, questions, suggestions, or recommendations would be more than welcome.

Offline ChrisK

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This all sounds so familiar, except for me it was repetitive doses of Cipro while in my mid 40s.  Luckily, mine has been mild so far (an A+ cup size) and I hope it stops growing.  I'm trying not to let it impact my self confidence or demeanor.

How bad is yours?  How big and noticeable?


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