The Military: The Best or Worst Place for Man Boobs?
As you might imagine, we’ve talked with dozens of guys about moobs and the military, and their experiences are all over the map. For some, being in the service was a lucky break when it came to deciding about male breast reduction. Other guys we meet, particularly those who end up in our New York man boobs consultation room, have nightmares to relate.
Here are some of those different experiences.
First, having a pair of breasts when you’re a guy in the military is rough. It just is. Not only is the mostly-male environment such that rude comments fly freely, the initial intake exams and early days of boot camp seem to be especially demoralizing:
“Basic training was terrible because I never wanted to take my shirt off.”
“It’s so embarrassing because others make fun of it.”
“…being with a bunch of guys in the shower, oh god.”
On the Other Hand…
Some guys in various branches of the military have been lucky enough to have their surgery covered. The healthcare plan offered by the Department of Defense, Tricare, has a page about gynecomastia surgery on its website. The wording is as follows:
Coverage criteria for surgical interventions may include, but is [sic] not limited to:
• Severe gynecomastia (enlargement has not resolved after one year)
• Fibrous tissue stroma exists
• Breast pain
If you think all this is not exactly clear, we agree. For example, “severe gynecomastia” usually refers to the degree of enlargement, not how long a patient has had man boobs. And the word “may” has the effect of calling the entire evaluation process into question.
Still, we know from our New York man boob patients and from interacting with men on gynecomastia.org, sometimes things work out for guys in the military. We saw an online post a few years ago by a man in the Air Force who said his surgery was being paid for, and he was even headed for a civilian plastic surgeon.
On the Other Hand…
A good many of our New York revision gynecomastia patients need a do-over because Tricare approved surgery by a physician inexperienced with man boobs. It is not at all uncommon to meet revision candidates who were initially treated by a general surgeon. We agree with one guy who told his story on gynecomastia.org:
…do NOT take a generalist, who won’t care how he slices you up or why he should try to hide the scars.
A Few Last Thoughts
We love learning from our patients in New York. Having man boobs in the military is a topic they know better than we do! Here are some thoughts we’d like to pass along from them to you:
• Many guys suggest that having pain associated with man boobs seems to be a deciding factor in convincing Tricare to cover surgery.
• While it may be possible to get your branch of the military to cover male breast reduction, many guys in the know say the VA will not cover surgery once you are discharged.
• One man told us that if the worst should happen and a guy’s surgery is botched, there’s often no legal recourse for military personnel.
• The stories by those in the military on gynecomastia.org offer hope, but many of them were not posted recently. Tricare’s policies may have changed, and they may even vary from branch to branch and location to location.
Last but not least, hoping to get free surgery with a good result is a terrible reason to enlist. We applaud guys (and gals) who want to serve, no question. But it should be a calling like any other, not a way to deal with man boobs.
Contact us if we can help in any way. We’ve performed male breast reduction before guys go in the military and while they are serving. We have also seen many for revision gynecomastia surgery. We are here for you.