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Reposted by permission of patient:
Had the surgery on Thursday
Hey guys, I thought I'd offer my own story of going through the procedure because I think a lot of people have left out some of the more important parts of the story in their 'documentary' posts. Let me know if you want more detail. I've had Gynecomastia since an early age, probably 11-13 but I can't really recall. All I can recall is realizing there was something wrong with my appearance at an early age and having a waning interest in going to the pool and running and doing the things active little kids do because I felt like I was turning into a fat blob. In all honesty, I prolly WAS a little bit pudgy for all I know but the Gynecomastia definitely made it feel like I was just absurdly overweight and I was convinced I needed to change my posture and clothing and activity level just to avoid people finding out how fat I really was. I've passed up a free trip to Hawaii because I couldn't bear the thought of going on the beach with my shirt off.
OK. So it sucked for 10 years. Then I had a physical last year and my doctor said “oh, that's funny, I never noticed you had gynecomastia”. At the time I was like wha huh? But it started a seed in my head that eventually grew to me coming to find out all about Gynecomastia and what can be done about it. BTW I'm 21 now.
The first thing I did was tell my girlfriend that I was thinking about getting it done. She was actually pretty skeptical about the whole thing and took the side that it wasn't bad enough to consider such a drastic action. It was nice to know she didn't feel it needed surgery but I still didn't feel good about myself so I pressed on. I told my parents, who had no idea that I had some kind of condition. I told them I had enlarged breasts, that they weren't going away without surgery, and that I wanted to see a doctor. They were very surprised to hear it but at the same time very non-judgmental and willing to help. I scheduled to see a doctor in my home town (I attend college a few hours away) and took the drive up to see him. He was a board-certified plastic surgeon who my family doctor had recommended. As is probably true with most plastic surgeons, his specialty was breast enlargements and this didn't seem to be something he had spent a lot of time learning how to do right. He took a 5-10 second look at me before saying “oh, it's not as bad as I thought” and telling me that it could be done with straight excision of the breast tissue (no fat removal). When I asked him to see pictures of previous patients or numbers on how often he does the surgery or anything like that he was generally resistant and didn't seem to like all the questions I was asking. From reading stuff online this made me nervous about him. Nevertheless, I was pretty sure he was a qualified guy and he was board-certified so it seemed reasonable to go with him and since he could do the surgery at a hospital half a mile from my parent's house it just seemed like a practical idea.
I had heard about Dr. Bermant on this board and on his web site and it just seemed like he had a better handle on this condition than anyone. Little things on his web site stuck out - he constantly referred to all the methods he was using to reduce swelling and decrease recovery time. I noticed his incisions seemed to be a lot smaller than other surgeon's. It just seemed like he was the man to see and I debated whether or not to go with the first guy. Dr. Bermant is in Richmond, a pretty hefty (3-4 hour) drive from my college. I eventually said to myself “I am doing this ONCE and I am doing it RIGHT” and made the appointment to see him.
When I got there, the nurse/assistant he has was REALLY nice and walked me through a lot of the preliminary stuff. Then I met Dr. Bermant. He gave me a really thorough examination (30 minutes at least) and described in very good detail what the issues specific to my surgery would be - he told me things about my chest, and skin I had never realized. He obviously knew what he was talking about. He had a bunch of materials he had made up himself that he stepped me through and explained all my options. Then his assistant came in and walked me through the pricing. Dr. Bermant spent some more time with me and then asked if I wanted to have photos taken of my breasts in preparation for surgery. I went ahead and had them done. He took some very methodically posed pictures of me for his reference before the surgery. If he was trying to impress upon me how seriously he took this stuff it was working!; I went ahead and scheduled a surgery date with him of March 14. He wanted me to come in on March 13 to get marked. All in all I had spent 2 hours at his office. Got all my schoolwork in order. Made sure I didn't have any tests after the surgery date. Made up suitable excuse to tell everyone while I was gone. Followed all the doctor's strict guidelines for surgery - no aspirin, no vitamin pills (multivitamins are ok), and no herbal anything for 2 weeks. On the 13th, I drove the 4 hours to his office, got marked up, and headed 2 hours away to my parent's house. The next morning (no showering, the marks had to be as pristine as possible) my parents and I drove 2 hours to the hospital in Richmond. We got in and filled out some stupid paperwork, paid the cashier, and went in the back with the nurse by myself. She led me back into the surgical prep area. Wow, I was in a hospital! As somebody who has never broken a bone and hasn't even ever had blood drawn this was all pretty new. I tried to take in a “I'll get nervous later” attitude - the point being that later was always not now and I could just keep my eyes open and be curious about this new interesting environment in the meantime. The nurse had me undress and I put on a surgical gown; luckily it tied with straps to be a lot less revealing than I had imagined. Then I sat in a gurney (those movable beds) under covers for something like 30 minutes. It was kinda boring and if there was a time to get nervous that was it but I really wasn't too nervous. The nurse came back and started getting ready to set up the IV of electrolytes. At this point I told her “well, this is the moment of truth since I'm a big baby when it comes to needles” and she laughed. And it really was - the IV being inserted was just a little pinprick but it was still the most painful part of the whole hospital experience. Oww! A little burning and then it was over. No big. Now I had an IV in my arm. I didn't look of course, I'd rather pretend it's not there;. Later the anesthesiologist came and introduced himself as the “anesthesia doctor” and put an antibiotic into the drip. About 20 minutes later a nurse said “ok are you ready?” and they rolled me into the OR. It was warmer in there - I had heard that Dr. Bermant is very exacting with the environment that he is operating in - and it felt really nice. He welcomed me to the OR but I almost didn't recognize him at first because he was in full medical scrubs covering him up. They raised my gurney to the height of the operating “table” (it looked like a really small Craftmatic adjustable bed angled so a person “sat” in it like an easy chair all the way back or a dentist's chair.) They had me wiggle over to the operating table/chair and then put my arms out on separate holders. He made sure my arms were comfortable and then told me they were putting a sedation drip into my IV behind me. He asked me questions and told me to think about having a vacation - I knew the deal was to get me to not focus on the fact that I was being sedated and I went along with it. They pulled down the front of my garment, about to bellybutton level. The warm OR was definitely appreciated at this point. I felt strangely talkative.....
The next thing I remember, I'm asking the doctor a question in the recovery room from a hospital bed and apologizing for repeating myself so often. I shake his hand and he leaves. I was told later that I had been conscious and talking nonstop for literally an hour and a half - and they all thought I was completely lucid. It was fun to hear about all the questions I had asked. I was warned I would have memory problems in this part of the recovery but I think I figured “naww that won't happen to me”. Apparently it went something like this:
Me: What Time is it?
Them: it's 3:30
Me: Oh, ok. What time is it?
Them: it's 3:30. You just asked that.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry, it must be the medication. BTW, what time is it?
A nurse helps me into the wheelchair and I get going off to my parent's car which is waiting to take us back to the hotel. I feel fine. I feel fine! We get to the hotel and my parents were sort of expecting me to be in some kind of weird haze but I'm like no let's go out and get some dinner! So we go to the Olive Garden and I had some lasagna. I felt not even a touch nauseated. I knew that I prolly had some drugs in me that were manipulating my sensory perception but I didn't feel “woozy” or anything. I was fine. I felt a slight mild sting after a few hours - I'd say it felt like two paper cuts, one on each breast. I also had range of motion issues but it was totally no big deal as long as I didn't try and reach up in the air or something. Definitely wasn't bothering me that much. Dr. Bermant called me at 9pm at the hotel room and asked how my chest looked. I told him I couldn't tell with the compression vest on. He said “well go and take it off” and I was surprised that I could take it off just 6 hours after the surgery. He said “of course!” and I went and looked. It was really surprising - when I removed the compression vest I unconsciously expected to look the same but I didn't. It was like seeing your face without its nose - kind of a wow, where'd that part of me go? It was really strange to see my breast area flat! It was a good feeling though. I thanked Dr. Bermant for his work and said good night. I took an extra strength Tylenol and went to bed.
At 3am, I woke up with a burning feeling coming from my chest. Nothing really painful; it didn't make me yelp or anything like that. But I knew it was also too strong to sleep feeling like that so I said to myself “ok, don't be a hero, just go take one of the pain pills Dr. Bermant gave you.” For about 20 minutes I laid in bed waiting for it to kick in and the next thing I knew it was morning. I felt sore - my range of motion felt a little more impaired. I was glad I brought button down shirts as getting shirts on and off felt very awkward. We drove back to my parent's house for 2 hours and I generally felt pretty decent. A little mild sting but if I took a Tylenol extra strength it went away or became so mild as to be unnoticeable. When I stood up the compression vest would be bunched up and I would hunch over very pronouncedly until I straightened it out. I rested at home for a few hours then went and looked at an Acura TL (didn't do any driving don't worry). I had absolutely no wooziness and felt like I could do anything that didn't involve fast movements or a wide range of motion. The day went by pretty uneventfully. The hardest thing to do was to sit up from lying down and to get my jacket on. Everything else was pretty normal. Every once in a while I'd feel a mild paper cut-like sting from the breast area but nothing worth talking about. On Saturday I felt even better and decided to drive home (4 hour drive) to college. It went fine, I couldn't make hairpin 180 turns but I could certainly do highway driving.
So now it's today, Sunday, the third day after my surgery. 72 Hours have passed. How do I feel? Pretty darn good! Oh, and just so you guys know, I have the compression vest with the Velcro straps at the top and the straps are only noticeable on my shoulders from the back. I'd be willing to bet that if I taped them down they wouldn't be noticeable at all.
So, to wrap up - the most pain I was in the whole time was the half a second when they started the IV. The rest of the time was a few throbs and having to get some help getting my jacket on. If you're want a new lease on life I would suggest you get yourself the best doctor available and stop sitting around. I am looking forward to the healing process and I want to look at this as a problem I had when I was young but that I solved and never had to think about again. We live in the 21st century - this is an age of technology that billions of people struggled to achieve. People would've killed to have these surgical options hundreds of years ago. Now we do. Use them! Live your life with happiness that would never have been possible until now.
Dr. Bermant responds:
Thank you for sharing your experiences about your surgery!