I had an interesting conversation with a patient recently about gynecomastia or male breast reduction. I couldn’t figure out why he kept asking me questions about my ability to achieve the goals that I had set out before him. I reassured him that I felt very comfortable that I could take on his moderately challenging case and achieve the result that I had described. “I can’t give you a 100 percent guarantee, but I feel confident that we can get there,” I told him. There was something going on in the back of his mind and I finally found out what it was. “Doc, have you ever Googled ‘botched gynecomastia surgery?’” he asked me.
To know me is to know that I don’t just tell my patients what they want to hear. I simply tell them the truth. I don’t “sell” procedures or make things sound rosy just to get their business. In fact, I generally under-promise and over-deliver. I find that it helps to exceed patient expectations and sleep well at night.
The answer is a resounding NO, I had never Googled ‘botched gynecomastia surgery.’ In fact, I really don’t do much web searching on gynecomastia in general. I am already knee deep in gynecomastia and my own extensive experience treating the condition has taught me everything I need to know and what to expect. In other words, I live in my own world with little exposure to negative, extraneous information from the outside.
My world is nice: my complication rate is low, most of my patients seem to be pretty happy, and I continue to relish in my role as the liberator from a terrible condition that, frankly, most people don’t understand, let alone know how to pronounce. There is simply nothing that I do professionally that provides me with more satisfaction and pride than does my role as a gynecomastia liberator. There is not even a close second.
Truth be told, gynecomastia surgery is not without complications and results are not 100 percent predictable. Finding the ideal “end point” of treatment on a case-by-case basis — how much to take and how much to leave — can be a challenge. It’s even harder, often impossible, to determine who is a “hard healer,” someone who makes scar tissue that can distort the result. Treating someone who has a fluid collection that hardens over time and forms a mass that mars the result is demanding. And what about those patients who have an impressive result but don’t think that they do?
To me there is a difference between “botched gynecomastia surgery” and results that are not what we would prefer but can happen to very good surgeons. Sometimes unfortunate outcomes can happen, just by chance. Inexperience is the ultimate gateway to bad outcomes. I can see it coming a thousand miles away during conversations and consultations I have with patients all over the world. It explains the “what were you thinking” results that simply defy logic and reason. It can only come from the hands of those who simply don’t know better and don’t have the vast experience that is crucial to consistent, normal results.
Just as every area of the body has a unique manner of healing, the response of the chest area to surgery is different from that of other parts of the body due to the underlying musculature. I know this from my extensive experience operating all over the human body. Even when operating with the greatest diligence, you still have to be prepared to deal with the unexpected.
My advice to all of you who want to stay away from botched gynecomastia surgery is to carefully consider your surgeon and make sure that you don’t get fooled into believing that there is a “magic wand” that can be used to get the “best result” with “no scarring.” It simply does not exist. If you fall into that trap, you will put yourself into a situation that may result in a “botched” outcome. Experienced surgeons don’t need to sell you on themselves by offering snake oil remedies. What they will offer you is vast experience, low complication rates, a real understanding of the emotional and psychological consequence of gynecomastia, and a real solution to your problem.
Welcome to the Austin Gynecomastia Center. I’m humbled to have you consider me as your surgeon.