Should You See a Counselor Before Gynecomastia Surgery?
The question about seeing a counselor prior to surgery comes up in our New York man boob consultation room from time to time. The answer is, of course, “it depends.” Here are the points we discuss with patients considering the decisions they need to make.
Generally, Counseling is not Necessary
Most gynecomastia specialists, meaning those who treat at least many dozen man boob patients each year, are very familiar with the struggles guys go through. These plastic surgeons treat their patients with empathy and can give insight into how to prepare for male breast reduction psychologically as well as physically. They’ll give tips about calming anxieties leading up to the procedure, and can let guys know that after surgery they may have some mental ups and downs to handle.
Speaking generally, when men and teen boys consider themselves “regular guys” and seem pretty grounded, when their moobs are just about the only thing they worry about chronically, then seeing a psychologist not needed. Naturally, if a guy wants to do that, we’re all for it.
When Counseling is Beneficial
The main group of patients we’d suggest visit with a psychologist are those who struggle profoundly with their condition. Some may have isolated themselves dramatically and need support rebuilding connections with others and gaining a rewarding social life. In this case, a skilled therapist can be really helpful.
We occasionally see guys with man boobs in New York who are truly obsessed. These patients exhibit behaviors such as looking in the mirror many times daily, wearing all kinds of layers of clothing and perhaps taping or binding their chest. They may be fidgety or otherwise display deep anxiety, and/or they may be quite depressed. These are patients who may never by satisfied after gynecomastia surgery, no matter how successful their outcome is.
Some of these guys may have a condition called body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD. This form of obsession with physical appearance can be apparent when men with mild cases of enlarged breasts are bothered in the extreme. BDD can also manifest itself in patients nit picking about many different body parts, declaring they are ugly or even repulsive, comparing themselves to male models and other behaviors. If we suspect a patient may have BDD, we refer him to a psychologist.
Finding the Right Path
Unfortunately, finding a good counselor to help patients navigate the time before and after surgery for man boobs, even in New York, is not necessarily a slam dunk. It’s easy to imagine that an average psychologist wouldn’t have experience working with guys with moobs in this era when men still don’t like to talk about it.
When patients seem to struggle more than usual with gynecomastia, we often recommend they learn more about body image. There are many resources available online, including a good basic overview from an organization called the National Eating Disorders Collaboration headquartered at a school in Australia.
For local patients with man boobs, New York has some options for working on body image. Workshops, support groups and therapists who specialize in body image counseling are available—a few minutes with a search engine will yield many choices. Some counselors incorporate yoga, mindfulness and other techniques in their practice, and many are available online as well as in person.
Even though these resources often present themselves as supporting those with eating disorders, and some may sound directed mainly toward women, we encourage our patients with man boobs to be open to them. Counselors who are trained and experienced in body image issues should be able to help, whether an eating disorder is part of the problem or not.
If you’re a guy with man boobs unsure which step to take next, we encourage you to contact us via email. With literally three decades of specialization in gynecomastia in Manhattan, our practice is very experienced with all kinds of patients. A conversation with us can help you make decisions that are right for you.