Real Parent Question: Does My Son Have Gynecomastia?
Each week we answer “real patient questions” via gynecomastia.org. It’s a pleasure to share the benefits of our thirty years of experience performing man boob surgery in New York. It’s even more gratifying when a parent seeks advice via the website’s forums. That’s how we know there’s a young man out there with trusted family members who care about his welfare!
Earlier this year, a mom asked how she could tell if her son has gynecomastia. Four of us veteran gynecomastia specialists chimed in. The response from one of our colleagues made us smile: “If it looks like gynecomastia, it is gynecomastia.” We have said this to our New York man boob patients many times.
What Parents Want to Know about Gynecomastia
We understand the underlying questions, too. No doubt the concerned mom was wondering whether the condition would go away on its own. We reassured her that in most cases of teen gynecomastia, this is exactly what happens. We advised “watchful waiting” for a period of at least two years. It can take this long for the hormone swings of puberty to settle down and for enlarged breast tissue to diminish.
Since weight often fluctuates in the adolescent years, parents can also be curious about what kind of tissue is causing their teen’s breast enlargement. In reality, no two cases are the same. Some young men develop a small, firm bud of breast gland under the nipple, while others gain weight and end up with large, female-looking breasts made up of interlaced fat and breast tissue. At either end of the spectrum, and anywhere in between, the bottom line is that if the condition doesn’t resolve in two years, it’s here to stay. No amount of diet or exercise will make a difference, and pills, creams and other “remedies” advertised online are useless.
When Teens with Gynecomastia Need Surgery
Because the teen years are so crucial in terms of psychological development, parents are wise to learn about gynecomastia and consider what can be done. It should be concerning to see a young man become introverted, drop out of sports activities and worse. Some suffer intense bullying by their peers. We’ve seen teens resort to taping and binding their breasts, hunching over and even deliberately gaining weight in efforts to disguise the condition.
It’s logical to start the learning process with a visit to the pediatrician. A general health checkup is a good idea for adolescents anyway, with one observation in mind. Through many years of working with teens with gynecomastia we’ve learned that primary care doctors tend to be reluctant to recommend surgery for an adolescent and often tell young men that their condition will go away as they near adulthood. For those with enlarged breasts that have persisted 2-3 years, this simply isn’t the case.
The trauma of having gynecomastia throughout the formative years can have a lasting effect. We agree with another of our colleagues who responded to the worried mom, “Also, if it is causing real social issues, it is best treated early.” We have performed man boob surgery in New York on adolescents as young as 12! In the hands of a gynecomastia specialist, the procedure is not only well-tolerated by most patients, it is life-changing as well.
The Watchful Waiting Period
What can parents do while waiting to see if their son’s man boobs resolve without surgery? The mother who reached out through gynecomastia.org is already doing the most important thing: seeking information. We trust she is also talking with her son to bring the topic out into the open and reassure him that she cares about what’s happening.
Parents can assist by helping their teens research and purchase appropriate compression shirts and vests. Find an article we wrote about that here. A wardrobe of loose, dark colored shirts can also be helpful. If a teen is suffering in athletic situations—such as “shirts and skins” teams for basketball—a call to the school might even be in order.
We enjoy working with teens with gynecomastia in New York immensely, and offer several resources in our blog articles like this one here. We encourage parents to read this story about our young patient John too.
We would love to work with you and your family. Contact us to get started.