For most young people, adolescence is a difficult time of life. For young men who develop man boobs, the teen years can be devastating. Increasing numbers of teens come to our offices in New York for gynecomastia consultations, and we see firsthand how the condition impacts their activities and self-confidence.
The causes of gynecomastia are not completely understood, but most cases are connected to hormonal swings. In fact, gynecomastia is a common condition for males undergoing periods of change, including infancy and old age as well as adolescence. A quick search of the Internet will yield estimates of teens suffering with “man boobs” ranging from 30% to as high as 65%.
Each case of gynecomastia is as unique as the patient himself. In some young men, breast gland tissue stacks up beneath the nipple/areola complex, causing embarrassing, protruding nipples. For most, breast tissue is mixed in with some measure of excess fat. Teen “moobs” can range in form and size from puffy nipples to large, pendulous, very female-looking breasts.
The question parents and adolescent boys wrestle with is what to do about the condition. Some families elect to wait and see what happens as the young man matures, and indeed that’s the advice often given by primary care doctors. As hormone swings level out with time, some adolescents do actually see their gynecomastia shrink or even disappear.
On the other hand, gynecomastia does not resolve itself for many young people. Even when it does, the wait is usually at least 2-3 years. That’s why increasing numbers of families consider male breast redution surgery for their teen. The goals of young patients include:
- Feeling more at ease with their bodies and their lives at this important time
- Restoring the widest range of activities possible, including sports
- Wearing all kinds of clothes, or no shirt at all, without having to think about it
- Gaining the confidence and motivation to start a fitness program
We had the pleasure of appearing on the Discovery News Channel a couple of years ago with an inspirational patient who flew in to New York for gynecomastia surgery with us. Check out the video and you’ll see that this young man’s objectives made sense, and the surgical results, in his words, “changed his life.”
Naturally, everyone should make their own decisions about their bodies. For some, waiting to see what happens is the right choice. But those considering surgery should know that this choice is also valid. After all, the procedure is not extremely invasive, it involves few risks and the man boobs will not return. And, in the hands of an experienced gynecomastia surgeon, the results can be life changing.
Photo by sophieetcie, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.