What Teens Need to Know About Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia is the development of breast tissue in males

Gynecomastia is the development of breast tissue in males, which can be a confusing and distressing diagnosis for many, including young boys and even babies. Nipple enlargement and breast development in boys, and even in some cases in infants, can raise several questions for patients and their parents. With the right information and content on the subject, its history, and studies conducted, the impact on the patient’s health can be better understood and addressed. A thorough understanding of this condition allows the majority of those affected, including parents who notice their child’s distress, to know their rights when it comes to treatment options, including the choice of medication.

Anyone who’s gone through it and anyone who’s currently experiencing it knows: adolescence is tough, especially for boys and young men. The hormones rage, causing mood swings and imbalances. Weird things happen to the body, from hair growing in new places to vocal changes. Some teens experience growth spurts early on and suddenly find themselves heads taller than their peers. Others are late bloomers and develop slower than their friends and classmates, leaving them feeling as if something is wrong. Amidst all these changes, the birth of conditions like gynecomastia, also known by its name as a male breast tissue enlargement disease, can further add to the challenges. This disease can stem from various causes, including genetics, diseases, and the use of certain medications, complicating appropriate treatment. It can be particularly severe in some cases, making it all the more important to remain informed on the various forms of management.

Gynecomastia is one of the changes that can occur to teen boys during puberty or adolescence. Of all the changes that can happen to the body, it’s admittedly one of the more embarrassing. It is important for patients and people unfamiliar with the signs, medical treatments, and causes of gynecomastia to educate themselves about this medical condition. Gynecomastia is the development of breast tissue in males, often caused by hormone imbalances. It’s more likely to occur at three stages of life: infancy, old age, and adolescence. Whether you’re a teenager dealing with it now or a parent of a teenager who’s dealing with it, or even a baby showing symptoms, here’s what you need to know.

Teenage Gynecomastia It’s Super Common

Although gynecomastia can make you want to wear your largest, most oversized T-shirt, avoid certain medications that might exacerbate the problem, or stay home from school, and although it can seem like you’re the only kid in your class who’s dealing with it, the reality is that it’s pretty common. Up to seven out of 10 teenage boys are likely to develop gynecomastia at some point during puberty.

Gynecomastia is most common in boys between the ages of 12 and 14, although it can occur at any stage of puberty. It often develops when the levels of testosterone and estrogen in a teenage boy’s body become imbalanced. Higher than usual levels of estrogen contribute to the growth of breast tissue, resulting in a rubbery lump-like appearance. Over-developed breasts in males can also be the outcome of certain medicines and drugs, such as steroids or marijuana, that contribute to the symptoms of gynecomastia, including excess fat around the breast area. Obesity is another factor that can make gynecomastia more likely to occur.

Some factors can make gynecomastia more likely to occur. For example, male teenagers who are obese or overweight are more likely to suffer from excessive breast tissue development. If a boy’s father or other close relative experiences gynecomastia, that can be a contributor to breast development and increase his chances of also having the condition.

Emotional Support for Your Teenage Son with Gynecomastia

Dealing with peri-pubertal breast enlargement can be emotionally challenging for teenage boys. They may feel embarrassed, self-conscious, and even ashamed of their body changes. As a parent, it’s important to provide emotional support and help your son navigate this difficult time. Here are some tips on how to offer support:

1. Open Communication: Create a safe space for your son to talk about his feelings and concerns regarding gynecomastia. Encourage him to express himself openly and listen without judgment.

2. Normalize the Experience: Let your son know that gynecomastia is a common condition among teenage boys and reassure him that he is not alone in dealing with it. Share statistics or stories of others who have gone through similar experiences.

3. Education: Help your son understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for gynecomastia. Provide him with accurate information so he can make informed decisions about his health.

4. Encourage Healthy Habits: Promote healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise and a balanced diet. This can help manage weight and reduce the appearance of gynecomastia in some cases as well as using loose-fitting shirts to conceal it.

5. Seek Professional Help: If your son is struggling emotionally or experiencing severe distress due to gynecomastia, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in adolescent issues.

Remember, it’s crucial to be patient and empathetic with your son as he navigates his journey with pubertal gynecomastia. By providing emotional support, you can help him build resilience and confidence during this challenging time.

Sometimes, Adolescent Gynecomastia Might Go Away on its Own

While it might not seem like it, the odds are very likely that teenage gynecomastia will resolve on its own, eventually. The breast tissue will shrink as levels of estrogen decrease and testosterone levels stabilize. In some cases, medications and hormonal treatments can be prescribed to help achieve better results for the patient. For more extreme cases, surgical removal of excess tissue might take place.

Although some boys and young men get their hormone levels tested or take medicine to determine the cause of teenage gynecomastia, for the most part, testing isn’t required. In addition to taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, some teenage boys see an improvement in breast size after losing weight, while many parents hope for this outcome, knowing that sometimes, nothing more is needed. It’s important to consider the individual’s medical history and any underlying health issues before deciding on the proper course of treatment, especially in children. It is essential for adolescents and adults to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as various factors, including hormone changes, such as estrogen levels, weight gain, and fatty tissue accumulation can contribute to the development of conditions like teenage gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia. In some cases, this condition is referred to as “man boobs.” When first noticing a change in their breast size, which may affect half of the adolescents in a country, it’s vital to consult with a healthcare provider for an accurate exam and diagnosis to rule out more severe health issues like breast cancer or abnormalities in the nipples.

Gynecomastia Surgery Before and After

Surgery Surgery Can Also Help Deal With Excess Breast Tissue Growth

Although it is possible and likely that adolescent gynecomastia is something you’ll outgrow to some extent into adulthood, it can be challenging to live with, especially if the other kids at your school bully you, leading to teasing and embarrassment. In such cases, seeking professional help and medical intervention is advised. Your health care provider can help by performing blood tests, monitoring any possible triggers such as the use of substances like heroin, and examining the degree to which your testes are affected, especially relevant for teen patients.

If enlarged breasts are making it difficult for you to live your life in peace, help is available. In some cases, gynecomastia surgery or other procedures, also known as liposuction, can be useful. There are different types and techniques in male breast reduction, which can make the breasts less prominent, providing relief and comfort for the patient.

During the procedure, a surgeon will remove the excess breast tissue as well as any fatty deposits that might be contributing to the enlargement through an incision. Depending on the size of the enlargement, the surgeon might also cut away excess skin from the area. The goal is to create a flat, masculine chest.

Male breast reduction surgery isn’t something to decide on quickly or as a snap decision. Since it is surgery, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before going forward. There are potential risks to any type of surgical treatment, such as scarring or complications. Therefore, consulting with a medical professional or a healthcare provider is crucial.

When to schedule the surgery is another thing to consider. The procedure itself will take a few hours. Afterward, you’ll need about a week or two for the initial recovery. During that time, you’ll want to stay home from work and school. Extracurricular activities, particularly sports and exercise, should be off the table for up to six weeks after surgery.

For that reason, it might make sense to schedule surgery over summer vacation or during a holiday break. If you are an athlete, try to choose a time for surgery that won’t interfere with your training or game schedule.

Gynecomastia Surgery Before and After

Other Coping Options

Whether you ultimately decide to have surgery or not, living with gynecomastia can be challenging, especially as a teenager. Fortunately, there are several ways to cope with the condition as you wait for the breasts to shrink or wait to have surgery.

If other kids at your school are bullying you, it can be helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist about your concerns. You might also try to raise awareness about the effects of bullying at your school, to help prevent it from happening to others.

Although it might seem like your problem will stick around forever, it can be helpful to remind yourself that it is most likely only temporary. Knowing that there’s light at the end of the tunnel can help you get through.

If you’re a teenager or the parent of a teenager who’s dealing with gynecomastia right now, it can be helpful to speak with a plastic surgeon and learn more about your options. Dr. Paul Vitenas is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Houston who specializes in breast surgery, including male breast reduction. Call 281-484-0088 to schedule an appointment or book a virtual consultation today. With the right information and support, you and your young one can navigate this challenging phase with confidence.