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5 Weeks Before Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
I've been lurking here for a few weeks. A week or so ago I finally found the nerve, after repeated attempts, to have "the conversation" with my wife. I attribute that strength to finally seeing, via this board, just how much company I have in this struggle. This post is my first step in getting rid of this problem.
I'm 34 and I've been dealing with this condition since I was 12 or so. At least that's the first time I realized something was wrong with my chest. I grew up with a lot of the same worries that others here have expressed, though mine weren't nearly as crippling in my teenage years. I stayed fit and had tons of friends, and with the exception of four mild instances that are carved into my memory, nobody ever said anything to me. I was never teased about anything, let alone this condition. I was never afraid of girls -- just very careful around them. In that way, I was luckier than many of you may have been.
But pain and suffering are relative, and it's been horrible for me. I've avoided the shirtless activities, worn the double t-shirts, hunched over so my clothing would hang ... I've read it all here on other posts. I've tried to address it with exercise, which, after doing research, I've come to learn is futile. (I've pretty clearly got a mainly glandular problem.) Those futile attempts contributed to me giving up the exercise, and now I pretty much look the worst I've ever looked. I shudder to think what I'll look like in 10, 15, 20 years if I don't do something about this.
This makes me feel humiliated in front of my wife (who has been her typical ultra-supportive self since I brought it up). I hate the way I feel forced to dress. I hate the way I walk, the way I stand, the way I sit at my desk. It's been consuming my thoughts more and more as the days pass.
This made me afraid to have a son for fear that he would have to go through this too and would somehow blame me, or at the very least would see me as he grows and perhaps feel a sense of shame. Now that I have a son, I think about it even more. I don't know how much of a role heredity plays in this condition, but I hope he is spared.
As for me -- I've finally decided that I'm just going to have a plastic surgeon try to fix them. I have no idea why I waited so long. I didn't even consider plastic surgery an option until recently. Maybe I was just in the grip of it -- I don't know.
Now I just need to figure out who. I'm not rich, but I can handle this surgery, so I've decided to see the best surgeon I can find. I live in the east, and I'm centrally located between Dr. x and Dr. Bermant. They're both between 5.5 and 6.5 hours away via car, so I'm hoping to do initial consultations with each over e-mail to get a feel for who I'm most comfortable with.
I think my expectations are realistic: I want to be able to wear clothes that fit me and to stand up straight. I don't know for sure that I'll feel comfortable going shirtless. I hope I do, but I don't expect to. I just want to carry myself like a freaking man.
I'm not sure how soon this will happen, but I knew that I wouldn't even begin the process until I posted my intent here. My next step is to contact the surgeons. Wish me luck.
4 Weeks Before Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
I plan on having surgery as soon as possible, and I'll use this diary to talk about my remote consulations, pre-surgery, and post-surgery. If all goes well, I plan on leaving gynecomastia behind, but I will come back at least a few times to post photos and updates. If I have problems, I guess this diary will last longer than I'm hoping.
As I mention in my story, it's pretty much between Dr. Bermant and Dr. x for me. I have spoken with both offices on the phone. On Tuesday (three nights ago), I sent the requested information to Dr. x's office for a free remote consulation, including the photos posted above. This morning I sent another e-mail to Dr. x's office asking for confirmation of receipt of my e-mail, but I have not heard back. In the e-mail, I was asked to provide my age, height, weight, and what is bothering me. I guess I'll hear something from them next week. I assume I will be asked for significantly more information in that consulation.
I have spoken with Jane at Dr. Bermant's office a couple of times now. I'm doing a remote consultation with him as well, for a cost of $200. This consulation started with me filling out a three-page medical history form and a one-page breast history form. (It's funny -- I couldn't talk about gyne with my wife for years, and once I finally did, she's helping me fill out forms, reading these boards with me, etc.) I faxed those forms to their office today, e-mailed the above photos (which were taken at the angles requested on his site), and put the check in the mail. Jane said the remote consulation will be scheduled as soon as Dr. Bermant has a chance to review my photos and forms. She also mentioned that the consulation, done by phone, will last approximately 60 to 90 minutes, which surprised me. I'm very interested to find out what it's going to entail. Because I want to have this surgery as soon as possible due to an early spring beach trip, I'm hoping to do my consulation next week. (Jane is well-documented on this board as being quite nice and helpful, and my experience was no exception. After our initial converation I asked if I could ask her two questions, and she said I could ask her twenty-two questions. I thought that was pretty cool.)
As of now, I'm definitely leaning toward Dr. Bermant. He's a bit closer, and I very much appreciate his participation on this board. One poster mentioned that perhaps his intent is marketing, which may have some degree of truth, and I'm absolutely fine with that. I want a doctor who is going after this type of surgery. Of course I'll wait for the consulations before making my final decision.
I'll post appropriate details after those consultations.
I should add that I'm 6' and currently 181 lbs. I need to lose five or six pounds, and I should be able to pull that off before surgery.
4 Weeks Before Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Wow, I just got a call from Jane at Dr. Bermant's office. Didn't expect one at 8:30 PM. I'm glad she called -- my phone consultation is tomorrow at Noon EST. She said I should set aside about an hour. We'll be discussing my medical history, breast history, and photos.
I'm really looking forward to this. If all goes well and I feel ready to go, tomorrow I should have a surgery date. Nice!
3 Weeks Before Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
My consulation with Dr. Bermant went well today. We talked for about 50 minutes. Much of it was familiar from his website. As I expected, I appear to be a good candidate for surgery, and I made my appointment for Feb. 3. This is the best doctor for me.
I'll go in on Friday, Feb. 2, for a proper evaluation. That will take at least a couple of hours. Assuming nothing unexpected happens -- for example a cold or even an infected hang-nail or something -- the surgery will take place as scheduled. If I have a cold or some other illness as the date approaches, I'll have to call and reschedule. Dr. Bermant won't operate if he thinks I'm at risk of infection.
The next morning I'll be at his office at 7:15, ready to go. My wife will be with me. The anesthesia and sedation should pretty much have me out of it, and even if I'm not a hundred percent asleep, I should feel no pain, hear nothing, and will probably forget the experience after I "come to" anyway. This type of anesthesia is less risky than general anesthesia, so that's another plus.
After surgery, I'll be able to leave as soon as I'm lucid. We'll stay in Richmond for two nights, and I have one more appointment on Monday. If all is well, I'll be ready to come home. Seven to ten days later, I'll have an appointment to remove the dressings.
I'm excited that I was able to get such an early date. If anything of consequence happens between now and then, I'll post. Otherwise I'll pick this diary back up as my surgery date approaches.
1 Week Before Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
My surgery is in one week, assuming I don't get a cold or something. Some interesting things about the last few weeks:
While I've dealt with gynecomastia for over 20 years, it really started to bug me worse in the past couple of years. Once I finally started to do web research about it, and I realized that there's actually something I can do to make it go away (or at least not be as bad), I got to where I thought about it way more. I spent time on this board every night, I talked about it with my wife very regularly, etc. It really consumed my thoughts. I simply had to make a plan to get rid of it, or at least try.
I did my research and found the right surgeon for me and scheduled my date, and since then, I've felt very different. I know the date is coming and I'm finally doing something about it, and I just haven't been thinking about my gynecomastia all that much. I've only checked these boards a few times over the last couple of weeks. I guess I'd just say that I'm very calm about the whole thing, like when you've done all of the necessary studying for a test, and now you just have to wait until class starts.
Then today I cleaned out my closet and realized just how much I hope I can get rid of ALL of those XL T-shirts. I tried on some of the L Ts I have and imagined myself without gynecomastia. I felt a surge of confidence at the idea of being able to completely change my wardrobe. And I realized how quickly seven days can pass. I'm almost there.
I'm starting to get excited again.
2 Days Before Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Yep, almost there. My wife and I are in a hotel close to Dr. Bermant's office now. Tomorrow I go in for my official consultation and, assuming there are no problems, I'll fill out paperwork, we'll do photos, I'll get marked up, etc. Tomorrow morning will be my last shower for a few days! Thirty-six hours from now I guess I'll be post-op. Wow.
1 Day Before Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
My appointment today went well. We got to Dr. Bermant's office a few minutes early and I barely had my coat off before I was called in to meet Jane. She's really great, just like many people have said. I weighed in at 175 pounds, so I was able to drop all of the weight I wanted to lose in the last few weeks. This didn't surprise me because I lose weight really easily if I just eliminate garbage from my diet. I filled out some paperwork and was given some info sheets to read to prep me on what to expect tomorrow. She also gave me a hospital "shirt" to wear, and when she left I took my shirts off (of course I had on two T-shirts) and put the gown on, which opens in the front.
Dr. Bermant came in shortly and the real consultation was under way. He's very deliberate and professional. He used a variety of instruments to take measurements of my chest. After this consultation, I had a better understanding of the makeup of my gynecomastia than I've ever had. I could really feel where the problem was and compare that to my actual muscle structure and the proper male contour that exists under the gland and fat. My left side is bigger than my right, and he explained that I can expect there to be a difference post-surgery as well. Hey, I'm not looking for perfection here. I understand the reality of this.
Fortunately there were no surprises after this consultation, so surgery for tomorrow morning is on as scheduled.
After the consult, I went across the hall to another office to finalize some paper work and get my blood pressure taken. I assume it was fine because he didn't say anything about it -- I was reading paperwork and forgot to ask. I've never had a problem with blood pressure, and didn't expect any problems today.
Next I went into the "camera" room to be fitted for my compression garments. I had already paid for the stage-one garment, which has button hooks up the front and velcro on the shoulders, but I tried on the stage-two garment first ($99 more), which is more like a very tight T-shirt made out of a lycra-type material. First Jane asked me what size dress shirt I usually wear, and of course I was like, "Uh, XL, of course. But not for long." She suggested I start with a M, and she was right, it fit perfectly. Snug, just like it's supposed to be. It was cool to look in the mirror with this on, because it definitely creates a masculine contour and gave me an idea of what I might be looking like in a T-shirt tomorrow. Pretty exciting stuff. Next I tried on the stage-one vest, and to my surprise I need a size S. I won't be able to wear tight T-shirts with this, but supposedly normal-fitting T-shirts completely hide the garment. I did notice that it makes a bit of noise as I shift about -- the velcro kind of moving around I guess -- but Jane said that will stop soon after I wear my garment a few times and wear it in.
Once I was fitted, Dr. Bermant began the process of taking photos. He takes a lot of photos, but again he's very deliberate and it goes quickly. I stood in front of a blue screen, which you'll see in the background of the photos on his website.
Next, in the same room, he began mapping out my gynecomastia with a magic marker. I had seen photos of this before and wondered how the process worked, so I'll explain it here. First he had me flex my chest muscles, and this gave him an outline of pec muscles. He followed around the perimeter of them and made dots with his marker until he made it all the way around each muscle and established the problem areas, then he connected the dots and created the outside circle. Next, he firmly felt around the glandular/fat mass behind my nipples and did the same thing, finding the perimeter and making dots until he was all the way around, then connecting the dots. I can't shower before the surgery, of course, because these circles are his "map" during surgery. He might explain this process differently, but this is my perception of how it happened.
Next, it was back to the camera to take photos of me with my maps. This didn't take as long, since he only had to take front and oblique views.
That was pretty much it. I was informed that my surgery has been bumped from 7 am tomorrow to 8:15 am, which I think is a better time anyway. The whole appointment took about 90 minutes. I didn't have to wait for anything. We got started as soon as I got there, and I went from step to step almost immediately. No wait time at all.
So now I'm 13 hours from the start of my surgery. I can't have anything to eat or drink after midnight tonight, so I think I'm going to enjoy a soda and snack as my wife and I order up a movie on the hotel TV. (I'm at the Hilton Garden Suites in Colonial Heights, by the way, which is nice because it's surrounded by plenty of things to do. We're about 20 minutes from Dr. Bermant's office.) I feel very calm but also excited to go through this. Not long from now, I should be on the "other side." I'll be sure to post at my next opportunity.
Surgery Day Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
I'm on the other side!
We just got back to the hotel, and I'm happy to say I feel great and everything went well. I came out of the anesthesia about two hours ago, and I feel totally normal, mentally. In fact they said that I "woke up" better than anybody had in a long time. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll start with last night.
The night before -- now that's a surreal time. All of the thinking and preparation, not to mention years of living with gynecomastia, and I was one good night's sleep away from putting it in the past. Ha! That good night's sleep just didn't really materialize. I fell asleep around 1 am, but I kept having weird sensations. At one point, I was freaked out because I had woken up and had a drink from the water fountain, and I wasn't supposed to drink anything after midnight. Then I finally realized I was in a hotel room and, well, there's no water fountain in here. False alarm. Later, when I finally slept deeply enough for REM sleep, I had a bizarre dream that my wife and I were going to Dr. Bermant's office. Only we were on foot, and his office was in New York City, and we were at the top of an asphalt mountain looking down on Manhattan, and for some reason we had to be sure to get a shopping cart down the mountain with us. I finally realized the absurdity of what was going on and woke up. So I guess you could say my surgery was on my mind as I was trying to get some sleep!
Our wake-up call came late, but it didn't matter because I knew what time it was anyway. We got up and out quickly, and because we were about 30 minutes early when we made it to the office, we decided to wash our car. We made it back to the office about ten minutes early and went inside. I was definitely experiencing my share of nervous excitement at this point, but I also felt pretty calm and confident. I guess it was a mix of emotions, but I was definitely very composed. From the moment I had first stepped into his office yesterday, I felt very sure that I was in capable hands. I had to wait about 10 minutes or so, so I borrowed my wife's iPod and played My Morning Jacket's "Golden" to help me stay relaxed. (If you guys don't know this band, check them out.)
Finally I met Jim, whom I believe is a nurse anesthetist. We had a detailed discussion about the drugs he'd be using. This guy has 30 years of experience and made me feel very confident about the anesthesia. He then brought my wife into the room to explain to her what was going to be used, and also to talk about her role in the hours after surgery.
Next I went back into the waiting area, but I wasn't there long enough to get nervous -- only two or three minutes, and another nurse, Charles, came and got me. We went into the staging room and I undressed (except for my socks!) and put on a gown, opening in the back. Charles made a comment that I'd be walking to and from the operating table, and it was time to take care of the "to" part.
I went in and lay down on the operating bed, and I was very comfortable. I did not feel nervous. I just kept my eyes closed and I relaxed. Jim gave me a shot with some sort of a numbing drug in my arm, and then he inserted what I think is called a butterfly IV. There was practically no pain in any of this. They administered my antibiotics through my IV, and then Dr. Bermant started talking to me about my dream vacation. I knew I'd be out soon, but I started talking about Positano, Italy -- a place I will absolutely visit someday. He asked me to describe the colors of the sky, and colors of the sand. He asked who I was with, what we would eat, etc. The last question I remember was: "How does the sand feel?" I said, "It's soft. And warm."
And then I was sitting up and the operation was over. I had been completely out of it. Charles later said that I had asked the same question a couple of times, but soon I felt very sharp, mentally. I believe it was Dr. Bermant who lifted my hands up to feel my "new" chest, and I'm glad I sort of remember this. I guess many people don't come out of the drugs enough and they don't remember this step, but I want to remember it. I felt a flat chest. They helped me put my vest on. Charles and Jim started talking about how quickly I had woken up. I had to go the the bathroom badly, so they walked me to the restroom. Next I went back to the recovery room and lay down again, and my wife came back to see me and I got dressed. I asked about the gland removal, and Charles asked if I wanted to see the gland. I said yes, and brought them in. They were about the size of small peanuts in their shells. Good riddance, bastards. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Charles brought in a wheelchair -- company policy -- and he wheeled me out to the car. And that was it! My follow-up is Monday at 9:30 am.
I was in a bit of pain, but nothing too bad. We drove the 20 minutes to our hotel, and made a detour to a Panero to get some soup and bread. We came up to the room, I took some extra-strength Tylenol, and I had my light lunch.
It's about an hour later now, and I feel pretty good, really. I certainly feel a little pain on my chest, but it's very bearable. If the pain stays at this level, I won't take anything other than Tylenol. I'm chilling in bed right now, and I may try to take a little nap in a bit, but I definitely won't stay in this hotel room all day. We're going to go across the street to the mall, I think, and we'll do dinner and a movie if I feel like it. I actually feel sort of energetic right now.
Some random thoughts:
- I look very different. I thought I would be able to go back to work without anybody asking me what's different about myself, but I don't think that's the case now. I'm a skinny dude, and now I actually look skinny. It's so freaking weird and awesome. A bit ago I just stood in front of the mirror and looked at myself, just trying to get my head wrapped around this change. If my employees knew about my gyne, nobody ever said anything. So I don't know if they'll notice something is specifically different with my chest, or if they'll think something is just different in general. I don't really care, though.
-I haven't seen the results yet, and I won't until my follow-up on Monday at the earliest, but for now I'm very happy with my decision to have Dr. Bermant do this procedure. It was all so professional, and there was never any question in my mind that I was in the hands of both an expert surgeon and an expert staff.
-I used to slump when I stand, but right now, with this vest and the feeling in my chest, I have to stand up straight. And I want to, so that's sort of cool.
-I can't wait to go to the mall, just to look at clothes. I haven't wanted to look at clothes since I was in high school. I very much want to do this now. I won't buy anything now, but it'll be cool to look.
Okay, that' s all I can think of now. I will be sure to post regularly as I go through post-op, and I'll also post photos regularly as soon as I'm able. If anybody has any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me.
It's a brand-new day, guys.
So we went over to the mall today. We were there for maybe 45 minute and decided we'd take a drive, but by the time we got back to the car I was feeling very sore. My guess is it was a combination of walking around for a while and the anesthesia wearing off. So I took half of a Lortab and came back to the hotel, and I've been relaxing ever since. I feel great.
1 Day After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
I actually slept pretty well last night. I was propped up on pillows, because it can help keep swelling down, and it wasn't too bad. I probably slept better than I did the night before surgery. My back was a little sore, but nothing too bad.
This morning I was a bit stiff and took half a Lortab, and I've been feeling pretty much fine all day. The discomfort that comes along with this is more from wearing this vest than anything. It's not too bad, but it does get itchy. Getting your back scratched through the vest is incredible.
I feel no pain when I laugh, cough, etc. I kind of expected that it would hurt to laugh or breathe deeply, but it doesn't at all. It's just when I inadvertently use my pecs that I feel some pain, and this has been very slight (because I stop whatever is causing pain immediately).
I actually get to shower tonight, and I'll remove my vest and the gauze when I do. So I guess I'll get to see what I look like tonight. We have new gauze to replace the old when I get out of the shower. I'll be sure to take photos before I put my vest back on, after the shower. I'm nervous to see what I look like.
I took a shower today. It was pretty awkward, but at least I got clean, which feels good. The gauze wasn't coming off easily, and I didn't want to force it, so I still haven't see the real results yet. I'll wait until tomorrow when I go back for my follow up. I'm more nervous about seeing the results than I was going into surgery.
I've taken very little medication today and haven't felt much pain, but I'm starting to hurt a bit now so I'll probably take some Tylenol to see if that takes care of it.
2 Days After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
I went in for my follow-up today, and I finally got to see what I look like (well, pretty much). So here are my two-days-post-op pics:
I'm very, very happy about how my surgery turned out. I don't have a perfect view yet, but I feel like I'm looking pretty natural, seeing as how I just went under the knife two days ago. I can't believe the lack of swelling and bruising. I'll follow doctor's orders to the T, and when I've healed I'll get to toning my body up. I feel like how I look is in my control now.
The vest had really been bugging me, though, making me red and itchy as hell. Dr. Bermant said that happens with a small percentage of his patients, and I'm not surprised I'm one of them, because my skin doesn't do well with friction. So he suggested I wear a snug T-shirt under the vest, and it's definitely better. And I thought I was through with wearing two t-shirts!
We drove about seven hours to get home today, and being in a car for that long only two days post-op sucked. I was pretty sore by the time I got home. My wife took it as easy as possible, but we just covered a lot of miles. Fortunately I have a light schedule for the next couple of weeks, with no travel planned.
So far, this has just been an awesome experience. I'll continue to post as I heal, and I'll update my photo page every now and then too.
3 Days After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Three days post-op. The pain is still very mild -- I basically get a little sore a couple of times a day. It's no big deal. Unfortunately, my skin isn't digging the vest at all, and I'm really itchy. Wearing a shirt under the vest seemed to help yesterday, but two days into that and I'm back to itching again. I'll talk to Dr. Bermant as early as possible tomorrow and hopefully work out a solution.
I took another shower tonight, and it was a little easier this time. It feels awesome to shower.
Today was my first day back to work, and all went well. It's pretty cool to stand up straight, to walk straight. Wearing this vest has immediately corrected my posture, and hopefully six weeks of it will correct it for good.
I've already posted my post-op pics above, but I'll post more after a week or so. My bruising is just about the same now as it was yesterday.
4 Days After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Thanks! I haven't seen anything under the white bandages, no, but I can tell by the rest of my chest that bruising is minimal. I have not seen my nips. They were kind of big before, with relatively undefined edges, so I'm curious to see how surgery will affect them. Because gland was removed, there's a good chance that they'll get smaller. I won't see under the bandages until Feb. 14. Of course I'll post photos that day.
I did not see an endocrinologist, and I don't know what caused it. I have no other signs that I have a problem with testosterone. I've had it since I was a kid, and it's essentially been stable for years, so Dr. Bermant says as longs as I stay fit I shouldn't have a recurrence. Believe me, I'll stay fit -- now that I know what life is like without gynecomastia, I'll do whatever it takes to keep it in my past.
Four days post-op. I'm still only feeling pain a few times a day, and I have no problems dealing with it. My problem is this vest. I spoke with Dr. Bermant today, and he had spoken with the manufacturer of my vest. Tomorrow I'm going to try safety-pinning it to my pants so it won't ride up. Most of my discomfort is happening on my lower sides and back. I hope this works; if not, I'll have to go to plan D.
I also want to mention how pleased I am that my doctor and his staff have been so eager to help me post-op. I sent Dr. Bermant an e-mail late last night telling him that I was experiencing discomfort, and he actually responded right away and invited me to call him last night. It was after 10 pm, and I thought that was above and beyond. I waited until today, but I thought it was cool anyway.
I was thinking about something today that I thought I'd share. Less than a week ago I had gynecomastia. I still remember very much how it felt. I remember being able to close my eyes and, without touching myself, being able to literally feel the extra tissue on my chest. I could just feel that it was there. I'm sure a lot of people on this board can relate to that. Anyway, I know some people who are considering surgery worry a little about post-op, about pain, discomfort, etc.
Granted my post-op has been smooth so far, minus the whole itching thing, but it's sooooo much better than feeling that gynecomastia. That was a much, much more painful feeling for me. This new "pain" actually acts as a reminder that the old pain is gone. It makes it even easier to deal with.
5 Days After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Five days post-op. First, new photos:
Nothing super-different there. You can see that I'm bruised in the center of my chest and more on my left side. My left was bigger before, as you can clearly see in my pre-surgery photos, and the doctor took a bit more fat out from that side, so it's no surprise that I'm a bit more bruised/swollen on that side. My swelling is still minimal, though. My swelling is the worst in the center of my chest, for sure.
I'm happy that today was my best vest day so far. I tried the safety pins, but I'm clearly going to need to try stronger pins, probably baby-diaper pins. My vest is just so short that it's too far from my waistline, and the resistance is too great for normal saftey pins to hold. As backup, I took one of my wife's stretchy, medium T-shirts with me to work. I ended up putting that on under my vest, and I've been pretty comfortable all day. It's stretchy enough that I can get it on easily, but it's snug enough that I have no folds under it. So I'm going to try her T-shirts for a couple of days, if the baby pins don't work. I'll probably end up having to buy her all new shirts after I stretch hers out -- I just hope I don't destroy her Carnivale T-shirt, as I'm not sure she'd forgive me.
Showers are getting much easier, and my wound dressings are holding up very well to the little bit of water that manages to get on them. Leading up to a shower, I can't wait to get my vest off. When the shower is over, I can't wait to get my vest back on. At this stage in post-op, that compression really helps minimize pain.
1 Week After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Well, I'm a week in, and everything seems to be going smoothly. My swelling is still pretty minimal, the bruising has darkened a little, and I'm doing pretty well with my vest. The best solution I've found so far is wearing my wife's small, stretchy T-shirts under the vest, so I'm going to buy a few of my own and go that route for the remaining three weeks of this garment.
I haven't taken any pain medication today, and if I feel like I need it, I'll stick to a couple of Tylenol. If I'm feeling up to it, I think I"ll have a glass or two of wine with my wife tonight.
-I have full sensation in both nipples. I have no numbness to speak of.
-This stage-1 vest does not really conceal all that well under a T-shirt. I suppose it could partially be because I'm wearing an additional T-shirt underneath is, but the velcro straps on the shoulders definitely show a little through a T-shirt, even if the shirt isn't particularly tight. Also, because I have some swelling in the center of my chest, I have to keep "puffed up" gauze under the vest there for additional compression, and it causes a bit of a protrusion in the front that is a little bit visible even w/ a T-shirt on. Wearing a button-up, collared shirt is better for concealing the vest.
-Walking and standing upright is as great as I hoped it would be.
-I'm very excited to start trying on clothes and refurbish my wardrobe.
-I'm glad that I got my surgery in the middle of winter, as it seems like a better time to go through post-op. I would expect to be less comfortable if I were in this exact same stage but with an outside temperature of 80 degrees or something.
My dressings come off on Valentines Day -- I'll remove them myself, with Dr. Bermant instructing me on the phone. I'll post new photos afterward.
9 Days After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Great news -- I think I have this vest figured out. During a conversation I had with a woman from the company that makes the vest, I had mentioned that I had had the most luck while wearing one of my wife's T-shirts under my vest. So she mentioned that Target makes a flexible, soft women's shirt that some men have had luck with under vests. I mentioned this to my wife, and she was like, "Oh, I have a couple of those, actually." I wore one yesterday, just under a T-shirt and hoodie, and I was comfortable all day. I wore the other one today, and once again I've been very comfortable. The key is that it's soft, flexible enough to easily get on, but fits snugly enough that there are absolutely no creases in the shirt under the vests. If a T-shirt creases up at all under this tight vest, it's no fun.
So we went out tonight and bought a few more of these T-shirts -- I think they're called Mossimos -- to help me get through the next few weeks. They're not really feminine looking -- they've very much like wearing a thermal T under a T-shirt, which I often did pre-surgery anyway.
So, in short, I just dropped a bunch of money to look more masculine and now I'm out buying women's clothes. You've gotta be kidding me. Grin
Swelling is still minimal. Pain is subsiding -- I still get sore a couple of times a day, but it's no big deal. It's almost always when I'm in the car. I'm feeling like I'll probably be ready to sleep vestless when I'm two weeks post-op.
11 Days After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Eleven days post-op.
Today I removed the dressings from my chest with Dr. Bermant on the phone. I took my time, it was easy, and there was no pain involved. I've posted photos sans the dressings:
I'm extremely pleased with the results. It will still be a while until the swelling subsides and I see the final results of the surgery, but honestly, if this was the end result, it would have exceeded my expectations. I certainly don't think I have a perfect chest, but I do think I pretty much look normal already. With more healing and an excercise program, and with careful scar care, I think I'll be happier still. Oh, and I'm looking forward to finally getting this marker off of my chest!
Speaking of an exercise program: There's an outdoor work-out plan I've done three times in the past few years. It's six-weeks long, three days a week, 75 minutes a day, with a small group of people of different fitness levels. Its boot-camp format is extremely intensive, and it adjusts for each person's fitness level. We've even had people in there who are training for marathons. Through each of these classes I've taken, I've dramatically increased my fitness, stamina, and even appearance -- except, of course, for my gynecomastia. And that was so frustrating that I had a hard time feeling like all of the effort was worth it. I'd get discouraged and then fall out of shape again, only to try once more.
I can't wait to see the results of the next class I take, starting in mid-April. I've definitely got some fat I want to convert into muscle.
12 Days After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
...I'm definitely stoked so far. I can't wait to get back into shape; I think my motivation will be ten-fold what it used to be. In the meantime, I'm being very careful. I'm not walking around like a robot or anything, but I'm definitely taking it easy and being as smart as I can be.
I'm a back-sleeper anyway, so I haven't had any trouble with that. For the first week or so, though, I slept elevated on pillows to help with swelling, and I much prefer to sleep with only one pillow, and a flat one at that. So I had some back pain from that in the mornings at first.
You're right, I did get local with sedation, but I was totally out of it. From my perspective, this is a much better option than general anesthesia. It's much easier on you when you wake up, you don't have to be intubated, it's less risky.... When I woke up, it was only a matter of minutes before I felt pretty much normal, mentally. I felt great the rest of the day.
Anyway, thanks again, and good luck with everything. Let me know if I can answer any other questions about my experience.
Back to general diary stuff--
-I've decided to keep my vest on 24-7 and not sleep without it after two weeks. I want to be serious about scar care, and removing the compression for that many hours each night just isn't doing as much as I can do. I'm pretty comfortable in this thing now anyway. So it's me and the vest, together, forever. Well, forever for a couple more months, anyway.
-It is not easy to get this marker off of my chest! Granted, I'm not exactly scrubbing due to the healing tissue underneath, but I thought it would just kind of wear off after a couple of showers. Wrong! I honestly will not be surprised if I still have marker on me in two weeks, and I'm gently taking soap to it every night. (I don't care about this in the least--it's just unexpected.)
-Since removing my dressings, my nips are a good bit more sensitive. I'm sure I'll get used to it after a day or two more.
-When I get cold chills -- and we're having sub-zero temps here now, so it's been pretty common -- my whole chest seems hyper-sensitive. It's not unpleasant at all; kind of like a sneeze is not bad at all, not exactly good, but just sort of momentarily very intense and almost good. That's what these chills are like.
-Not sure if I mentioned this or not, but I haven't taken any pain medication in days. Totally unnecessary.
2 Weeks After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Yesterday I ordered new clothes. Wow, now that was a cool experience. Six shirts/sweaters, all in my actual size. I'm not sure how many of them I'll be able to wear before I move on to the stage-two garmant, but that's only two weeks away. I never thought I would actually get excited to buy clothing.
My duct-tape idea isn't working all that well after all. This vest is just bulky and shows through the shoulders of just about anything I try to wear. So for the time being, I'm still in big/thick clothing. I don't think I'll wear a hoodie again for a long time once I get out of this vest.
17 Days After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Seventeen days post-op.
I can tell that my internal healing is really coming along. I let pain be my guide for what to do and what not to do, and I'm able to do a little more each day. I still have some surface soreness, but it's not too bad. The vest is fine with these Target T-shirts. If you need to wear a T-shirt under your vest, trust me, the Target Ts are the way to go.
I'm really looking forward to starting a workout plan. I'm not going to rush into anything, though, and when I'm ready I'll start slowly.
22 Days After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Twenty-two days post-op.
I took off the steri-strips yesterday -- no problem -- and I've updated my photo page, three weeks post-:
I'm still sore to the touch, but it's no big deal. Most of the crusty scarring came off with the steri-strips -- what's left will come off naturally, as I'm not going to mess with it. So far the results have exceeded my hopes and expectations. I hope, as the swelling under my nips goes down, everything continues to look so natural. Making the transition to walking, standing, and sitting upright has been very easy and has taken no effort. It's slouching that feels unnatural to me now.
I went out on Saturday night with some friends, and it was the fist time I've been in a truly social setting since my surgery. It's hard to explain how different I felt. It was awesome.
I won't be posting to my diary nearly as much as I was. I'll be sure to put up a post next weekend, as I move into my next vest and start massaging, and I'll update my photos every now and then if I notice some changes. And if anything of consequence happens, I'll post.
1 Month After Dr. Bermant's Gynecomastia Surgery - Travel from West Virginia
Yes, I'm definitely chuffed.
The scar on my right side looks great. The scar on my left side is still scabbed over, and I'll leave it alone until it comes off on its own. There is still scar tissue under my aerolas, and I wonder how that's going to change as I progress into deeper massage after two more weeks. They bulge out very slightly now. The light massaging I started tonight was a bit more unpleasant than I expected, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. I'm still a bit tender to the touch, so that's part of the reason why. Also, it's kind of hard to just sit there and massage your nips for 15 minutes. At least it is for me.
I'm now in a stage-two vest, and it's much better. Definitely more discreet, and I think much more comfortable in general.
Beyond that ... I don't really have anything to add. In fact, I think it's safe to say my diary has run its course, so this is going to be my last actual entry. I hope it's been helpful for some people. If anyone has questions, I'll try to answer. And I'll more than likely post more photos sometime down the road, just to show what effect working out is going to have on me.
Thanks to everyone for your support. I wouldn't have done this if I hadn't found this board. Also, thanks to Dr. Bermant -- I've never doubted for a second that I chose the right surgeon for the job. And best of luck to everyone. I hope you find a way to deal with this problem, one way or the other.
I still find it hard to believe I can say this, but ...
I don't have gynecomastia anymore.
Dr. Bermant responds:
Thank you for sharing your experiences.