Question: My 14 year old son has just developed what look like breasts. He wants surgery so he doesn’t look “like a girl”. Isn’t this something that goes away on its own?
Yes, you are right, but he has a good point as well.
Young men at puberty will often temporarily develop breast fullness as their testosterone hormone balances with estradiol hormone. The breast enlargement usually is gone in 18 months or by the time your son is 15 or 16.
His condition is called gynecomastia – it is the term for when a man’s breast tissue becomes too large.
However, gynecomastia in a teenage boy does not always go away. If his does not, he should definitely have surgery. Teasing by classmates can be merciless and damaging – especially if he is involved in sports or gym is required at school. Many sports team uniforms have snug spandex tops that make a boy’s gynecomastia hard to hide.
Surgery is usually straight forward: an incision inside the areola (dark skin around the nipple) leaves a scar that often becomes unnoticeable in time. Through this incision the excess breast tissue is removed – taking care to leave enough to support the nipple so it doesn’t sink in.
Although this surgery can be done with local anesthesia in the office, it is better for a teenage boy with this condition to be asleep for surgery. It is an outpatient procedure, which means he can go home an hour or so after surgery.
Unfortunately, he will not be able to play sports for 4 – 6 weeks, but speed walking and lower body weights may be alright after 2-3 weeks, if everything has healed well.
This is truly a marvelous procedure which can stop the damage of teasing and turn a young man’s life from one of intermittent misery to confidence and peace-of-mind.