Gynecomastia is a real problem among men in Singapore. For many, they either do not know where to turn to for help or perhaps considering the social stigma surrounding the condition – hesitated from seeking one.
Unlike those who didn't, Henry (not his real name) in his 40s, did seek help and is today a much happier and confident individual. This is his story.
"Since my early 20s, I've always had a little discomfort around my chest area but have always passed it off as nothing. That is until the discomfort started getting overbearing and started to disrupt my daily activities. I was a little overweight (but not by much), so I started to exercise thinking that the weight loss might help somehow."
Exercise with an accompanying dietary plan is a common weight loss fix. It's not surprising that Henry, upon his first real concerns, resorted to such for he assumed that it was weight-related. However, for gynecomastia patients, it is not the solution.
"While all the exercise did help me lose weight, I noticed that the fat on my chest was still present, and the discomfort still persisted. I had to ice the sore areas but it only served as a temporary relief. You can imagine how puzzled I was – in fact I was more frustrated than anything else! Unable to find help in the real world, I turned to the Internet."
Aside from its detrimental health effects, the stigma surrounding gynecomastia is also a cause of discomfort and grief among those afflicted. Therefore, this often leads to their inability to find help or willingness to openly ask for one even. But thankfully, the advent of the Internet has enabled people like Henry to find (real) help.
"I soon found out that what I had was called gynecomastia and a further search led me to Amaris B. Clinic. On one hand, I was relieved to know that there is help but I was wary as well. I've never gone for any surgeries before. However, being that it was an opportunity for help, I decided to book an appointment with Dr. Ivan Puah and take it from there."
When Henry walked through the doors of the clinic, as unnerving as it was for him, he soon found comfort in the way Dr Puah made him feel at ease. He found Dr Puah to be patient, reassuring and forthcoming with his replies to all the questions he had. As the procedure was explained, Henry felt even more reassured.
"I also found out the reasons for my condition. I was a pudgy as a kid, so I've never given a second thought about the extra fat on my chest. I thought I had pseudogynecomastia, which basically means fat mass and a condition not caused by glandular proliferation. But as I got older and lost weight along the way, there was no change to my chest and it became an embarrassing issue. Not to mention the discomfort and feminine outlook – day in and day out. Dr Ivan Puah also told me that ageing could cause or aggravate the condition."
Dr Ivan Puah has seen and treated a fair share of gynecomastia patients. He believes that the onus is on a doctor to always give honest and ethical advice and/or opinion. Certain conditions like gynecomastia involve not only the suffering of a physical aspect, but for some, it is a form of psychological trauma as well. Handling their trust while managing realistic expectations is a critical component.
Facing a surgical procedure of any kind can be an intimidating and nerve-wracking experience for anyone. What more if it's your maiden surgical procedure like that which Henry was about to undergo.
"In the days leading up to the gynecomastia surgery procedure, I was inevitably wrecked with nervousness. I've been in a few unsettling situations in my life, but this one (really) took the cake. Despite the reassurance after my first consultation, there was still a little doubt, which I think was caused by natural fear. So I spent a lot of time leading up to the procedure reading up on the surgery itself and the post-care involved. I focused on the positive outcome to psych myself up. The team at Amaris B. Clinic was also a gem and very reassuring, and that helped a lot."
With the added confidence, Henry went through the gynecomastia surgery and it was a success.
"I underwent a speedy recovery. The lumps and discomfort were gone. To quote James Brown - 'I Feel Good!' - and I really did! My friends, who only knew about the procedure after I had it done, were impressed with the results. I've never felt more confident and alive."
Gynecomastia surgery is currently the only proven surgical solution for men afflicted with the condition and as such, the success rate is relatively high. It effectively addresses the issue and sculpts the chest at the same time for a more manly physical appearance, which boosts the confidence and more. It is also a huge relief to know that your doctor has the experience, skill sets and gynecomastia training.
Men who are suffering from gynecomastia should seek help as they deserve to lead, among others, a discomfort-free, life. A doctor's role is important in lending that help, which should also encompass knowledge and information about the condition. Family and close friends play a vital role, as well.
"A strong support system is vital, which helped me overcome my fear and doubts. I can't thank my family and especially my wife enough for the support even though it was (also) something new for her and must have been equally worrying. For those who are experiencing the same condition or some discomfort and especially if you have man boobs, go get it checked!"
Gynecomastia is disheartening but there is help available. The procedure is safe and at the end, you will realise that most of your worries were unfounded. I'm a testimony to that. Go get the help you deserve now – don't wait 20 years like me!"