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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
I spent my life hiding my chest
Anonymous man
Ivan had surgery to correct his gynaecomastia
More and more men are seeking surgery to reduce the size of their breasts, say UK surgeons. Ivan was one of those whose suffered from gynaecomastia.

Ivan, aged 40 and happily married father of two from London, looks like your average middle-aged businessman.

But up until two months ago, he said he had to pick what he was going to wear very carefully to avoid snide comments and wayward looks.

He said it took him 30 years to pluck up the courage to go and get treatment for the cause of his anguish - gynaecomastia.

"I was eight or nine years old when I first noticed it.

It does not feel normal or right for the gender that you are

"I used to be a big swimmer, but I started to get embarrassed about taking my top off.

"I would walk around with my arms around my neck to cover up my chest."

Ivan's condition is not uncommon. Many young men have breast development that resembles that seen in girls around puberty.

Most of the time it resolves on its own, but in Ivan's case it did not.

"By the age of 11 I had stopped swimming because I found the whole thing just embarrassing.

"The jokes that people say about man breasts or man boobs, the odd person would say that, but most would not, just like they wouldn't point out if someone had a big nose.

A life of hiding

"Since then, I have spent all my life trying to cover it up.

"I would never wear T-shirts. I would pick clothes to hide it.

"It's guided my whole life, even with regards to holidays which would involve sitting around a pool where you have to take your shirt off."

Now I can put on a T-shirt on without feeling as if I am someone who looks a bit wrong

He said it was embarrassment that stopped him seeking help for so long.

"It's a massively difficult subject to approach for a man.

"It does not feel normal or right for the gender that you are."

Three years ago he gave up smoking and put on half a stone, which he said was the final prompt he needed.

"I wasn't overweight, I never have been. But I just thought 'my life is rubbish' and I had to address it.

"Picking up the phone was the hardest thing. It's very embarrassing."

Ivan decided along with his doctor that the best option would be to have corrective surgery.

The procedure went well and Ivan says he has not looked back since.

"I just wish I had gone for it 30 years ago. It would have changed my life. It has now.

"I can put on a T-shirt on without feeling as if I am someone who looks a bit wrong."

Men seeking breast reductions
27 Sep 05 |  Health

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