Shying away from social activities due to insecurities is not uncommon in teens, both boys and girls alike. However, for some young men, the prospect of having their “dirty little secret” found out is sometimes too much to bear.
That “dirty little secret” I’m talking about is gynecomastia. Also called “man boobs”, this condition causes one or both breasts to grow abnormally. Many times, the breasts will take on a female shape, giving this condition it’s name in Greek, which is “female-like breasts”.
For many teens, the reaction is usually one of being horrified at what has begun to happen to their body. Most want to get rid of their condition right away and as soon as possible. But that may not always be the right answer.
Is Surgery Always the Right Choice?
Making sweeping generalizations in life is never wise and this applies to surgery as well. Surgery is not always the right choice in treating gynecomastia in teens. First of all, blood tests need to be run for hormonal levels as well and a full medical history needs to be done to rule out genetic conditions such as Klinefelter’s Syndrome or other potential medical causes.
Additionally, truthful information from teen to doctor needs to be shared, in confidentiality of course, regarding drug and alcohol use. Substance abuse among teens is prevalent and unfortunately, anabolic steroids, methamphetamines, marijuana, and heroine are just some of the illegal drugs that can cause abnormal breast tissue growth in males.
The growing epidemic of pharmaceutical abuse is also a potential factor that your doctor should look at because some depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and other types of prescription drugs can also cause gynecomastia.
The bottom line is if you’re using substances, you should wait for surgery until well after the substances are out of your system.
Under What Conditions is Gynecomastia Surgery Appropriate?
Surgery is a good option for healthy teenagers who are not using substances that would put them at risk for surgery complications or reoccurrence of the gynecomastia (see above). With general anesthesia being a concern with traditional surgery, the good news is that new surgery techniques are done in our centers without the need for general anesthesia.
Surgery may also be a good option if you have had gynecomastia for some time (at least 1-2 years) with no resolution; wait it out if it hasn’t been that long. With some teens, the hormone fluctuation beginning at the onset of puberty is the trigger for gynecomastia, but the body soon corrects itself and the condition resolves. For others, the body continues to feed on the hormone imbalance and the breast tissue continues to grow or does not get any better.
For more information about gynecomastia surgery for yourself or your teen, call our offices today for a free, private consultation to see if surgery is the right choice for you. Our New York City office number is (212) 206-0023 and our Commack, Long Island number is (631) 499-1831.