Medical Q&As

Gynaecomastia - cosmetic surgery?

I have a condition called gynaecomastia. I've had it since my mid-teens. I had been promised many times by several doctors that the swelling associated with it would go away. But it hasn't. I am now 25 years of age and have very swollen nipples with some breast tissue around the nipple. As you can imagine this is a very embarrassing problem for me. I have been to a specialist who checked my hormone levels and chromosomes but the results came back normal. The affect it has on me emotionally and mentally is terrible. I cannot wear the clothes I want to. I cannot go on sun holidays because I can't take off my shirt. Even wearing t-shirts is embarrassing as traces of the "breast" can be seen. The list of things that are affected because of it are endless. I have visited a cosmetic surgery clinic and have been told that it would cost 3000 Euro to remove the breast tissue. This is money that does not come to me that easily. I've been a member of VHI for all my life and am wondering if I would be eligible to be covered under my health insurance? Any information or advice you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Gynaecomastia is the technical term for male breast enlargement. As your query indicates this condition can be a source of considerable embarrassment and distress. I would suggest that you visit your GP and discuss your feelings about this condition in the stark terms that you have outlined in your query to me. I am reasonably confident, based on the information that you have given, that your GP could make a very good case for surgery to be performed. Your GP could outline the reasons why such surgery would be justifiable in the referral letter to a plastic surgeon. A very good case could be made for this surgery to be performed based on a consideration of your overall health needs. VHI will not cover the cost of cosmetic surgery that is performed purely on the basis of aesthetic considerations rather than medical need but in my opinion your case falls within the category of medical need rather than aesthetics. I would advise that you proceed through the conventional channels of referral by your GP to a specialist rather than the route of self-referral to a cosmetic surgery clinic.