“I Have Man Boobs.” Blogger Opens Up About His Fight With Gynecomastia

I received a communication the other day from this wonderful young man, Ryan.  It reminded me of my own story about coming out as a gay man.  But this wasn't about coming out.  This was about his fight, his struggle, his embarrassment, and now his pure joy in regard to something else.  Something emotional, cosmetic, physical, and painful.  Read his account below.

 

To Whom This May Concern,

This is a piece I wrote on going through life having man boobs. It's something that many men go through and I was hoping in some way I could reach at least one person out there that has been through the same hardship to let them know they aren't alone. If you could please take the time to read my story, I'd greatly appreciate it.

The past few days I have contemplated writing this blog because this is information that I have shared with very few people and never planned on letting friends, let alone strangers know. It is something that has haunted me since about 5th grade and has been one of my most protected secrets of my life.

I have man boobs.

This is my first time ever writing that sentence and even now rereading it horrifies me and I naturally want to erase it. To say I have them at this moment would be a little bit of a lie, but none the less do those words still haunt me and put a weight on my shoulders like being the most deformed person on the planet.

The reason I’m writing this blog is because 1. This is finally something I need to set free and let out. And 2. Because if this changes just one person’s mind or helps one person feel like they are not alone, I can deal with the embarrassment of my past. It’s important to understand that women are not the only gender to be subjected and tormented by how we are supposed to look. To really understand my story, I’m going to start from the beginning.

My first time I noticed my body changing, especially in my chest, I was 11 years old. It was the beginning of summer before my 6th grade year and I was helping my dad in the backyard on some project he was tackling. It was hot out so both of us had our shirts off while we were working and in a very random steer of conversation my dad says to me, “Ryan, look at you, you’re growing boobs.” In this moment I looked down at my chest and looked back at him and laughed it off, not quite knowing if he was laughing at me or with me, but for the first time feeling a negative sense towards my body.

Later that summer I attended a surf camp in San Diego and even though my father had made a reference to my chest, I had not put much thought towards my body. Surf camp had started out fine and I had made some friends, but when it came time to get into the water, my second instance happened where I suddenly became body conscience. One of the boys in the group said in front of all our friends, boys and girls, “Man those are the biggest pepperonis I have ever seen!”

I quickly looked down at my chest and I knew exactly what he was talking about. He was talking about my nipples and I became extremely embarrassed. The girls all began to giggle and instantly I felt like an unattractive outsider. The rest of the trip I was frightened to take my shirt off and when I had to wear a rash guard, I would constantly pull at it so it didn’t cling to my chest.

As I went through middle school I started to notice my chest growing more and my nipples becoming more prominent. I would stare at other guys chests and wish that I could have what they had. Being completely conscience of my “disfigurement,” I began to create ways that people wouldn’t notice. First I started with my t-shirts, always wearing larger sizes so that nothing was too small or clinging to my body to show my chest. Next, the material on my shirts had to be thick; if they were thin, there was still a chance for you to see on outline of my nipples. Then I would always use my backpack as a decoy, keeping the straps over my chest to hide myself. Lastly I never took my shirt off in front of people. To say the locker room was my worst nightmare everyday would be an understatement. Summer was definitely hard as well because whenever people had pool parties and invited me to a water park, lake, etc. I always declined because I was too ashamed. I even went as far as not taking my shirt off the whole summer of my 7th grade year. I would be out on the boat or at the beach with my family and I would refuse to take my shirt off.

I had become so disgusted with my body that I didn’t want anyone to see it, even my family. I thought I had fooled almost everyone with my tricks but one day I found out that all the work I did was for nothing. I knew these two girls that started randomly calling me “Jr.” on a daily basis and each time they did, they would laugh about it. I clearly knew it was an inside joke, but the fact that it was about me bothered me immensely so after pleading with one of the girls, she finally agreed to tell me. It turns out that there was this guy a year older than me that had “man boobs” and since they noticed that I did too, they decided to call me “Jr.”  After hearing this information I was mortified. I was so hurt that these two girls were going around for weeks calling me Jr. in front of my face when the whole reasoning was to make fun of my man boobs. That moment to this day haunted me and made me more self conscience then I ever had been before.

Moving forward in time, I still kept to my same routine seeing as there was nothing I could do about my chest. I still kept hiding my body under baggy t-shirts, declining pool parties, and dreading summer. Then came the era of Myspace. I was a newly gay 15 year old in the time where Myspace was really getting big. People began posting pictures of themselves and I wanted to be apart of that fad. I wanted for gay guys to want me and to do that I needed to make my pictures sexy. But how on earth could I be sexy when my body was disgusting? How was I going to take a great shirtless picture when all I saw was man boobs?

I began working out on a daily basis because there was nothing more that I wanted in the world then to have an attractive body, or to be honest, just a normal body. I also figured out a trick as to how to make my nipples look better in short periods of times. I noticed if I rubbed them, or pinched them, they would harden up and would look completely normal (The same affect happens when you’re cold.) This is something I began to do every time I wanted to take a shirtless picture or even in times when I had my shirt off in front of friends or strangers.

The sad truth is that I have been using this trick until about a week ago. As time moved on and I grew up and matured I stopped holding myself back from activities like the beach and river trips because I knew that I would one day regret not making those memories. But even though I forced myself to move forward with my life, my chest was still something that haunted me.

I found myself making my nipples hard every time I was about to take off my shirt in front of someone. I never wanted to have sex with the lights on because I was disgusted with my body. I took narcissistic selfies just at the right angles to feel better about myself. If there were any photos that someone tagged me in and I was shirtless, I would un-tag myself because I didn’t want people to see it. I so badly didn’t want anyone to know about this secret so I didn’t tell anyone. Something that I’ve learned over time is that if you are truly insecure about something, you want no one to know it. Yes you can say, “Omg I hate how much I weigh, I’m so insecure about it,” or “My boobs are so small. I seriously hate it.” And yes those may be things you wish you could change about yourself, but when you have a life altering insecurity, you want more then anything to pretend it doesn’t exist. You don’t want to joke about it, complain about it or even cry about it. You want it to never be brought up and you want to bring that insecurity with you to the grave. I hadn’t told anyone about it until about 5 years ago, when I was 18, and the only person I told was my mom. I told her because I really wanted to do something about it and that for once I wanted to have a summer where I could take my shirt off and not feel ashamed. I had done some research on what I had and found out it was called “Gynecomastia” which is a condition that most commonly occurs during Puberty. From my understanding, and please do not quote me, there is an imbalance of estrogen in the breast tissue during puberty, which if not resolved on its own, can harden into little balls that are mainly right behind the areolas, hence creating the puffy pointy nipple.

After doing extensive research I had realized there wasn’t much I could do for my condition. Almost every source of information said I would need to get surgery to get it removed. That’s when I decided to have my first consultation with a plastic surgeon. It was someone that was in Beverly Hills and even going to the consultation was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Checking in with the front desk woman, having to explain why I’m there, then having to take my shirt off for a doctor and have him examine my exposed chest was very hard to go through.

Once I had found out how much the surgery would cost and realized that I couldn’t afford the procedure, I decided to go an alternative route and buy these pills offline that swore they could rid you of your gynecomastia. They cost $120 a bottle and they had recommended that over time you purchased something like 6 bottles for it to fully work. At the time it was a lot of money but compared to the $5,000 surgery, what other option did I have? I bought the first two bottles and was a month into taking them when my hormones started to get off balanced. I went into a deep depression and after weeks of trying to find out why I was so chemically imbalanced, I learned it was from the pills, so I had to stop taking them. Meanwhile, they did nothing to change my appearance anyway.

A couple years went by and I continued to live my life, still keeping my secret to myself, still pulling off my tricks to look like I had a normal chest, and then I started making some more money. I decided to go in for another consultation with a different doctor and see if we could make it work. With the price he gave me, and the financing I was able to come up with, I was able to book the surgery. Sure I was going to have to pay $150 a month for the next five years but to me it was so worth it, it wasn’t even a question. From there I opened up my circle a little more of people who knew. I told my grandma about it, reminded my mom about it, and then my cousin accidentally found out when she saw the paperwork on my desk. Other then that, I still had not planned on telling anyone. Ever. Quickly you learn that what’s important enough to you to keep a secret, does not have the same hold on other people. My grandmother had told my sister, my mom had told my dad, and eventually the whole family knew. It was very difficult at first but since I had already set my date to have my surgery, I was feeling more comfortable with letting people know the deepest secret I’ve ever held because soon everything was going to change.

My surgery day came and I made it through the operation. Coming out of the anesthesia I remember my doctor saying, “Well, you’re officially flat chested,” before blacking back out with a smile on my face. The pain that I felt during my recovering was rough but it was something I would have gone through a million times to get the results I wanted.

I had to lie to everyone that wasn’t my family and told them that I had “lumps” in my chest that needed to be removed because there was no way getting around wearing a compression vest for 2 months. I wish more then anything that I could have told people the truth but telling them I had “man boobs” removed was too embarrassing. It was still a secret that I was going to keep to myself and I didn’t feel anyone that wasn’t my family needed to know.

 During my recovery process I was so hopeful. After the first week, I would take off my compression vest before hoping into the shower and look at myself in the mirror. I noticed a slight difference but it wasn’t what I was looking forward to. I would stare probably for at least 15 minutes a day, looking at myself at different angles, trying to convince myself that I was getting what I wanted. Each operation follow up my doctor kept being positive by saying that there was still swelling in my chest and that’s why it didn’t look the way I wanted to but that it would eventually go down. I decided to let his words of wisdom steer me towards a hopeful outlook but after a few months I became restless. I started to do some more research and there were multiple men out there that said their surgery did not work and that they had to get a revision. I began to worry and started freaking myself out, so I found some stories of men who got steroid injections into their chest from their doctors and the swelling went down and everything worked out perfect. I brought this up to my doctor and he said he would give it a try. I would have to lay on the medical bed with my shirt off and he would have to pry a needle into the area around my nipple about 5 times for each side. We did about 5 rounds of this for 3 months and the results were still not there. While my chest was slightly smaller, the only thing that had changed was that now one was larger than the other, I had no feeling in my nipples, and both of them were still puffy and pointy.

What was supposed to be a new chapter in my life had just become eradicated. I had thought that my life was going to be different, that I was going to be different. That everything I had gone through in the last 11 years of self loathing and body dismorphia was going to vanish and I was going to be this cool new guy that didn’t have to think twice about taking his shirt off. But all of that had been thrown out the window when I realized that I was never going to see that day.

I got so discouraged with the operation that I stopped going to the doctors office. He had talked prior about doing a revision but I didn’t have the money for that and I repeatedly asked myself if going through all that pain and hope was worth it again. My last doctors appointment that I skipped was in July of 2014. I had given up on the fact that anything was going to change and I was going to have to just live with it.

After about 6 months a thought started entering my head about the surgery and I began to get angry every time I thought about what had happened. I was still paying $150 a month for this procedure that didn’t work. I wanted to march into that doctor’s office and give them a piece of my mind but every time I picked up the phone to call the office, a part of me chickened out and didn’t go through with it. It wasn’t so much that I was scared of them, but I was scared at what that meant. If I called them and went in there and said I didn’t feel like anything had changed, that I had felt like I still had man boobs, it would be the first time out loud that I would be admitting to this.

Again, this new information was something I kept entirely to myself. I didn’t tell anyone that I was disappointed with the procedure because not only would I feel like a fool for wasting the money, but I would feel like I was still that 11 year old boy with man boobs who was insecure.

Another 8 months went by when I finally mustered up the courage to call the doctor’s office. I made an appointment and went in and saw my surgeon. He agreed that my chest was now uneven and that we didn’t get the results we wanted. After reviewing some paperwork he looks at me and says, “Okay well how about we schedule a revision, I’d like to fix it,” I was nervous when I asked, “Well how much is this going to cost me?” He looked back at me and smiled and said, “Not a thing, we take good care of our customers here and since we are both not happy with the results, you will not have to pay for a thing.”

My heart jumped for joy in that moment and I began to cry in the office. I did not see that coming at all and when he asked me why I was crying I told him that I was eternally grateful and that I was ready to move forward with my life. That night I came home and I had some big news that I had to share. For the past year and a half I have had a boyfriend and had been living with him for 8 months. I sat him down and told him of my past and what I had gone through. At the time he was a little shocked that he never knew that I went through this and that I never told him but after discussing the hard times I’ve had with this, he understood and accepted my reasoning.

Cut to present time and I am 6 days post operation. My body is sore, I am on medication, I am bruised, and I am recovering, but so far I am pleased with my results and I am excited about the future.

The reason why I have decided to share my story with you is not because I wanted to boast about my body. It is definitely not to make you think plastic surgery is the way to go. And lastly, it is not to gain sympathy. I wanted to write this blog to show you, from a males perspective, that it can be just as hard to be judged on your body. It is important to watch not only what you say, but what your kids say as well when it comes to their opinions on people. I wish so badly that my body wasn’t deemed disgusting in society standards. I wish so badly that I would have been appreciated for my difference instead of mocked of and made fun of. Of course the correct thing to say is, “Ryan don’t let others words get you down! Love yourself and that’s all that matters,” and you know what, I do love myself. I have moved forward. I may not have gone about it the best way but I am doing what I think I need to do. But at the end of the day everyone wants to be accepted. So why don’t we just accept everyone for who they are? There are so many god damn beautiful people out there and I know if you’re reading this, you’re one of them. I just wish I would have had someone who saw my deformity, and thought it was beautiful.

If you read through all of this, thank you for your time. It’s something I’ve been fighting with for a very long time and never in a million years thought I’d be sharing this with the world. It’s embarrassing. It’s emotional. It’s Hard. But It’s me. And I figured it was time to let my skeletons out of the closet. Maybe if we all did that, we’d realize we really are all alike….. just in a different way then we thought. 

 

Sincerely,

Ryan Pasqualetto

I conversed with Ryan after reading his story and thanked him for sharing it with us.  He said, "It was a difficult thing to open up about, but I knew someone needed to since I myself was so clueless about it as a child and adult being picked on about it."

I warned him that there were some not so pleasant people out there who would respond sarcastically and negatively toward him sharing his story, but then again there would be some very supportive and gracious people, too.  His response was, "Yes I've had my experience with bullies my whole life. I can take it. It's important for others to know they aren't the only ones who are going through this. I would have loved to have read this article as a teen or young adult."

But did he want me to use his name? "I actually would prefer to have my name used. I'm tired of hiding it. I also would like a face put to the name so people feel more connected to me and my experience. I don't want it to be a ghost writer who people may feel just made up the story. This really happened to me and I want for others to connect and to realize that even someone skinny like myself, can go through this disorder."

I had asked Ryan to share with me the pictures he wanted to.  He admitted he didn't save any from the days before the surgery.  He shared some cute pics of when he was 7 and 8, but none from 11 years up to 1st post op. "It's hard finding pics that I didn't delete of that I was insecure about."

Ryan, we thank you for your story and your willingness to share it with the world.  I am sure it is therapeutic as well for you to share your story, but I know that is not the main goal.  As most great charitable people, if it helps just one person, it is worth it.  I feel this will help many and for that, Ryan, you are wonderful. 

10 thoughts on ““I Have Man Boobs.” Blogger Opens Up About His Fight With Gynecomastia”

  1. There’s no reason to be concerned about enlarged breasts if you’re looking for a companion. Lots of folks love them! I have a straight male friend with enlarged breasts, probably from the time when he smoked a lot of pot. He LOVES the look. I like it, too.

    Reply
  2. I’m sorry people bullied you,

    I'm sorry people bullied you, especially for something out of your control (let alone at all). Last night I was with a man who had man boobs. I've not experienced it before. It didn't disgust me, I was merely curious and also didn't want to draw attention to them because I wasn't sure if it was an insecurity that he tried to avoid as he constantly wears baggy shirts. I think every single human body is different. What they put on TV and magazines are a select few bodies chosen exactly for the reason that they look perfect. But they're not and nobody is.  As a woman I have many insecurities about my body and that is why I was extremely sensitive toward him. But I'd like to know, is it better to avoid and ignore it, or just say hey, I love it, or, I like that your body is different, just to make them comfortable? I don't know. I don't want him to feel shy, but if I bring it up first, I feel it may be offensive. Then, I don't want him to be worried in his mind all the times that we are together. 

    Reply
  3. I also struggle with man

    I also struggle with man boobs. I'm 5'8" 160lbs. I'm also a dancer, which you can imagine is very hard when you have to find alternate choices to cover your chest when they and other men are shirtless. I tried working out thinking that muscle would burn the fat. Wrong. They seem to get bigger. The fat was on top of the muscle. I wear compression shirts Frm Spanks to hide my truth 

    Reply
  4. I relate to this. Had surgery
    I relate to this. Had surgery last year when I was 25. Until I was about 21, I thought I was just fat and even ended up in an eating disorder in patient psych ward. That was a rough time. Finally, I realized my problem wasnt that I was fat and my boyfriend helped me take out a loan. I’m not 100 precent satisfied, but for the first time in my life I can look in the mirror while trying on tshirts or go to the pool or beach without hating myself. I’ve been the victim of people’s really cruel jokes as well.

    Reply
  5. Some guys find manboobs sexy.

    Some guys find manboobs sexy. I know i do, love to play with them and lick those nipples good. Nothing like a nice manboob. True story.

    Reply
  6. I also went through a very
    I also went through a very similar story, my name is also Ryan and I am also gay, I had the surgery as well but will probably never have the chest I want, just indents from how much fiberous tissue the surgeon removed. I’m 37 now and still feel so ashamed of my body. My nickname in elementary school was ‘Tits’ and emotionally I still battle with feeling not good enough. I’m glad to hear you finally are happy with your results.

    Reply
    • Ryan, I am with you 100%!

      Ryan, I am with you 100%!  Your story, IS MY STORY!!  I was called tits in grade schoo….I too had the surgery and now have more shameful indents on my chest which are worse than my original situation.  Looking back and looking at this guys pics, he looks great, and I looked fine.  I regret the surgery, and have more shame about my appearance now, so angry with myself.

      Reply
  7. I’m 59. I have a prolactoma
    I’m 59. I have a prolactoma brain tumor. My hormones have been so very messed up ever since I was 31. Tha is when ALL my libido left my body. I have much larger man boobs than this young man. Nipples are two inches wide. I have been on T for three years. And my levels have barely gotten to over the bottom of normal. I’m very sucidal and fight PTSD from a life of abuse, rape and bullying. Maybe I will survive maybe I won’t.

    Reply
    • Sorry for your condition. I

      Sorry for your condition. I hope the tumor at least is gone or no longer screwing with your hormones. I had man boobs when I started getting fat in 3rd grade, I did all of the things talked about here. Never, ever went shirtless in high school, except during dreaded PE class. When I turned 16, I decided to get my weight under control and start lifting weights. It turns out a developed a nice chest that I was frequently complimented on. Then I was turned-on to nipple play. I want my boobs back. Bigger than before! I quit working out 2 years ago, and I have lost some definition, and they have begun to sag a little, making my nipples look a bit larger. To really make them grow big though, I am going to have to get fat(ter), but so far I haven't had much success. Be happy with your breasts. I would trade chests with you if I could. Take care of yourself.

      Reply
  8. I completely feel his pain.

    I completely feel his pain. It was difficult enough realizing that internally I was different from other guys, but outwardly as well, was overwhelming. I had actually convinced myself the reason I had man boobs, was because I was gay. I sought help from my doctor, for my man boobs, not my sexuality. Coming out in rural Indiana, as a Mormon, in the 70's, was not an option. My doctor said it was a hormonal imbalance and I began a regiment of extremely painful testosterone shots. Needless to say, it fixed neither of my problems. While psycho-babble and religious non-sense I endured because of my sexuality did a lot of damage, it is my physical form that has kept me single and celibate for the past 20 years.

    I hope his story saves others from the agony.

    Reply

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