Earlier this month, Joseph T Cruise, MD’s patient and Bravo TV reality star, Brandon Liberati publicly opened up about suffering with gynecomastia and having surgery to correct it. Brandon and his partner Craig Ramsay are one of the featured couples on this seasons Newlyweds: The First Year, which airs every Wednesday on Bravo. A recent episode highlighted Brandon going through gynecomastia surgery to not only correct his male breasts, but to also rule out the possibility of having breast cancer.
After the episode aired, Naluda Magazine interviewed both Joseph T Cruise, MD and Brandon to find out more about the physical and emotional aspects of gynecomastia, surgery, the healing process, as well as Brandon’s overall experience and message he wants to send to men who are still hiding in shame. Here are some excerpts from the article.
Joseph T Cruise, MD Interview –
What is gynecomastia and is there a psychological impact before/after surgery?
Gynecomastia is swelling of the breast tissue in boys or men, caused by an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Gynecomastia can affect one or both breasts, sometimes unevenly. Newborns, boys going through puberty and older men may develop gynecomastia as a result of normal changes in hormone levels, though other causes also exist.
Gynecomastia is more than a mere aesthetic concern. The emotional and psychological effects of this condition run deep and strip away self confidence like a cancer. It spares no age group or race, often rearing its ugly head early in puberty when 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 They become withdrawn, and begin to feel alone and trapped in a body they begin to hate, eating away at their body image during a critical time. This emotional pain continues into adulthood on a broader scale as grown men begin to feel self conscious by the pool, changing at the gym, and ashamed in their own skin. Most patients, regardless of age, don’t even realize this condition has a name, let alone a treatment. Patients suffer in silence, enduring profound feelings of embarrassment and becoming extremely self-conscious. Patients choose to have Gynecomastia at all ages and stages of life to allow them the freedom they desire from the emotional trauma and physical insecurity they feel while enduring this condition.
I have seen nearly every demographic of men living with this condition. The affect it has on them before surgery is generally described as leaving them feeling very emasculated. It affects their confidence and self image. It also hinders them from participating in “normal” activities many of us take for granted such as being comfortable taking their shirt off at the pool or changing in a locker room. After surgery men stand taller, choose better fitting clothing as they are no longer selecting items to strategically hide their condition, and no longer feel embarrassed as they embrace their new masculine chest. The most common comment we hear from our patients is “I wish I did this sooner.”
Can you share some of the details about Brandon’s surgery?
I admire Brandon’s bravery in choosing to not only address this condition which hindered him nearly his whole life, but the fact that he chose to utilize his experience to help bring awareness to this condition so others do not continue to suffer in silence. Brandon not only grew up in the 80’s as a Gay Male, but in traditional Utah, and suffered from Gynecomastia. This combination created some deep emotional wounds for Brandon and this mixture had the potential to result in suicide, which thankfully it did not.
Brandon’s case was a great representation of the most common misconception about Gynecomastia, as he is not only an attractive but very fit individual. It is not merely a condition that overweight men experience. Brandon is in excellent physical shape, eats well, and exercises regularly resulting in very low body fat. His condition at its core was literally excess glandular tissue. There is no combination of diet and exercise that would have ever improved his condition. In fact, what frustrates many men when trying to fix the problem with exercise is that they notice more projection in the chest because the breast tissue sits above the muscle which becomes more defined with targeted, progressive exercise.
Brandon Liberati’s Interview –
How do you feel watching the episode on TV?
It was interesting that days before the episode aired I was starting to have some anxiety and I could feel the shame that was a constant in my past start to creep back in. There was no turning back now, everyone was going to know the secret that plagued me. I think I held my breath through most of the episode! It wasn’t until I saw all of the support and outreach on social media during that I started to relax. Hundreds of people that were feeling the same effects that gynecomastia had mentally tortured me with. I made the right decision sharing this.
When did you decide to go through this surgery and most important why?
I had discovered lumps in my chest, which at the time I did not know they were just fibrous, but because I have a chronic family history of double mastectomies and breast cancer related deaths, I didn’t want to put it off.
Any message for our readers?
I have had many messages from men asking how they know if they or someone they know is suffering from gynecomastia- if you are questioning it you most likely know the answer. Call Dr.Cruise’s office and book a consultation.
The full article in Naluda Magazine can be read here: naludamagazine-brandonliberatigynesurgery