Imagine being a guy who refuses to take your shirt off at the beach or at a gym – or opting to not go to the beach or gym at all, fearing it will expose a portion of your body that you don’t want anyone to see. Imagine hiding your chest with an extra layer of clothing or refusing to even wear certain types of fabrics because you’re nervous about being taunted.

Imagine having to go as far as to wear a compression vest under your shirt or avoid dating women altogether because of this condition.

Well, millions of men go through this every day in every city in every part of the world. Sixty-five percent of men suffer from this condition known as gynecomastia or excess male breast tissue. This condition affects men of all ages, yet as scary as this sounds to people unaffected by this, it often starts at puberty, impacting boys as from a very early age and causing severe psychological damage and anxiety, setting them on a path for an unfulfilling life and confusing lifestyle.

The one surgeon in this country who knows more about this condition than perhaps anyone on the planet is Dr. Joseph T. Cruise of Newport Beach, Calif. He has been performing gynecomastia procedures for most of his 14-year career. He performs more gynecomastia surgeries weekly than most surgeons do in a year.

Equally impressive is that he has perfected his technique via the Cruise Classification System, which allows him to better target and define treatment for all types of gynecomastia with minimal downtime. He performs the majority of his procedures under local anesthesia – although there are some cases that require general anesthesia.

Having emerged as the leading and most influential doctor and surgeon in his highly-specialized, unique field, Joseph T Cruise, MD has perfected the incision portion of the procedure, reducing recovery time, pain and scarring to where it’s a generally a non-issue.

“From the very beginning of my practice, I was astounded at how underserved and misunderstood gynecomastia was,” he says. “As a surgeon, I feel an obligation to raise public awareness, not only for gynecomastia as a condition but also for its treatment.”

Amazingly, these techniques are not typically taught in plastic-surgery training programs or in residency.

“I didn’t do a single one of these procedures in my residency,” Joseph T Cruise, MD says. “It’s just something that is not done or taught. Plastic surgeons are not trained in it traditionally. This condition has lived in a vacuum in society’s eyes and in my own profession. When you look at the sheer number of articles, reports and studies on face lifts, breast implants and tummy tucks versus gynecomastia, it’s minuscule. There is mounds of literature on everything – except gynecomastia.”

Yet Joseph T Cruise, MD is changing that. He started changing it 10 years ago when he was featured on the Discovery Channel and realized he had to be “the funnel” for circumstances to be more prevalent. From that point on, he made it his life’s mission to make the public more aware of it, especially the parents of teenage boys who could be afflicted with the condition, thereby damaging their psyche and questioning whether they’re even male.

“Gynecomastia is more than a mere aesthetic concern,” he says. “The emotional and psychological effects of this condition run deep and strip away self confidence like a cancer. Young teenagers are already having a difficult time fitting in. They become withdrawn and begin to feel alone and trapped in a body they begin to hate, eating away at their body image during a critical time. It’s scary how unknown and mysterious this condition is.”

The emotional pain worsens, continuing into adulthood and creating more psychological damage and the highest levels of self-consciousness.

“Patients suffer in silence, enduring profound feelings of embarrassment and becoming extremely insecure,” Joseph T Cruise, MD says.

Joseph T Cruise, MD (R) with Brandon Liberati (L) and Craig Ramsey (Center)

Take the case of Brandon Liberati of Hollywood, Calif. For more than 40 years, he suffered with gynecomastia.

“It tormented me,” he says.

Finally, at the age of 48, he did something about it – only after he felt lumps in his chest. Breast cancer was a big part of his family’s history with his mother, grandmother, great grandmother and five other relatives.

“I wasn’t going to let it happen to me,” he says. He had surgery and his life has done a complete shift.

“I feel amazing and free,” he says. “I am comfortable now wearing any clothing fabric, and I don’t avoid shirtless situations like the beach, pool, or the locker room. This has changed my life and my self-confidence. I actually feel like I am free to finally be myself for the first time.”

He pauses for a moment and says, “The shame that you feel when you have gynecomastia is overwhelming at times and it haunted me up until the very last moment.”

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