Harry Bristow on Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia, also typically known as “Gyno”, is prevalent in the bodybuilding community. As for myself i never really knew anything about it, just this misconception that it was predominantly caused by anabolic steroid abuse. Unfortunately i ended up developing gyno myself, which really did not become apparent until during my 2017 contest prep for the UKBFF Kent classic, by this point the gyno had solidified resulting in my only option of removing it being surgery.
Once i had realised that i had gynecomastia, it sparked an interest to learn more about what it was and how it actually developed and formed into gyno aka bitch tits as many have phrased it.
This was at the beginning of my prep, hardly noticeable to the eye.
What is Gynecomastia?
Essentially it is an increase in breast gland tissue predominantly around the areola (dark pigmented part of your nipple/s), which can occur from Newborn all the way up to middle aged. Fortunately these types of gyno are often not serious and disappear after a short period of time.
What causes Gynecomastia?
The most common cause of this increase in breast gland tissue is from an imbalance of hormones, in particular Testosterone and Estrogen. Testosterone is the male characteristic hormone and Estrogen is the female characteristic hormone, however both sexes will produce & secrete a small amount of the opposite sex hormones but Men will produce more Testosterone & Females will produce more Estrogen.
So when we look at Estrogen having female characteristics, one in particular that correlates with this article is
● Enlargement of the females breasts
Now with that established, we can see why an imbalance in these hormones, where a Male will have elevated levels of estrogen in circulation can result in enlarged breast gland tissue.
Other causes of Gyno can be;
Use of anabolic steroids
Poor or inadequate nutrition
Adrenal gland dysfunction
This was exactly 1 week out from my show, where it became most apparent.
The initial steps to take would to immediately book an appointment with a specialised Doctor who will run some physical & medical exams to get an official diagnosis, however there are some very simple steps you can take to physically exam yourself, This was something i learnt from Dr Dean St Mart, the exam requires you to place the arm on the same side of the nipple you're examining behind your head with your hand holding the back of your head, with your opposing hand, gently pinch around the areola (nipple), if you feel a relatively squishy-like ball texture, no bigger than the size of a nut, this is a clear indication of gyno forming at the gland tissue. When it is a squishy texture, this means you have a higher probability of getting rid of it through proper nutritional & lifestyle changes, plus potentially the use of certain A.I (aromatization inhibitors) medication.
This is where you would need to seek professional advice from a Doctor.
In contrast, if it is almost a solid-like texture, then the probability of nutritional, lifestyle & medication application will be inefficient. This is where surgery is your best option.
Caveat: This article is keeping it in the context of bodybuilding and competing. So surgery is not always absolutely necessary for example, the general population who train purely for recreational & health purposes. As long as it’s not causing too much irritation, tenderness, or mental/psychology issues and you’re not phased by it, you can get on with your life without the need of surgical treatment. In contrast, for competitive athletes looking to either just do well in competition or potentially make a career out of bodybuilding, inevitably you will need to have it done, which is why I decided to get mine done in 2019.
In 2019 I decided that I needed to have Gynecomastia surgery done as it had got to the point of being incurable from medication administration. At the time I was a regular Youtube content creator, so I made the decision to document as much of the process as I could, as I believed it would be extremely informative and useful for others going through the same issue and contemplating whether to go ahead with the surgery procedure, as I know it can be a scary thought.
I believe I was also, one of the first people in the bodybuilding community to openly speak about and document the surgery, which you can find on my Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/GFw_P9VFHaQ
The surgery took place in Poland, Wroclaw at the Noa clinic where I was put under general anaesthetics. From my recollection, the surgery took only a couple of hours which was completed with no complications. I had to stay overnight in the clinic just for precautionary measures, but the proceeding day I was discharged in good condition. I spent 3 to 4 more days in Poland simply to take advantage of my first visit to the country, although most of it was spent in unpleasant pain & discomfort.
The duration of recovery is relative to the size of the glands that are removed, plus any additional liposuction that may have taken place. For me i had liposuction on my right nipple as you can probably see in the images above, this resulted in me being out of physical action in terms of training for 6/7 weeks total. During the entire active recovery phase I wore a compression garment to expedite the recovery process, this garment was purchased at the clinic. Unfortunately support max joint wasn’t formulated and out at the time, otherwise i would’ve definitely been using that to help with reducing the inflammation as well.
Subsequently, when I managed to regain some mobility in my upper body, I returned back to very light resistance training relative to my capacities. Roughly 12 weeks post surgery altogether, I was back to my normal intense training at peak strength capacities.
Caveat: Remember that this is person dependent and relative to the size of your gyno and the severity of the surgery. Some people I know who have had theirs done and were back in the gym 2 weeks post surgery, some had to wait longer than myself.
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