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Gynecomastia in boys

Dr. Workman  

Dr. Meredith Workman, MD is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Cardon Children’s Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call
(480) 412-KIDS (5437).

Question: At a recent pool party, I noticed my teenage nephew appears to have small breasts. Is this a normal part of his development, or should he see a doctor?

Answer: Your nephew may have a condition called gynecomastia, where the breast tissue swells as a result of his hormones being out of balance. Newborns, teenage boys and older men may develop the condition due to normal changes in hormone levels during certain stages of life. Other factors that may contribute to gynecomastia include medications and health conditions that influence hormones, such as thyroid, liver or kidney disease.

Up to 70 percent of adolescent boys may experience gynecomastia, but it usually resolves within two years without treatment. While often not a serious problem, gynecomastia can be uncomfortable both physically and emotionally, because boys and men may feel self-conscious about their appearance, and they might also experience pain.

Your nephew should see a doctor if he has ongoing swelling, pain, tenderness or any discharge from one or both breasts. His doctor can evaluate his symptoms to determine if he has gynecomastia and rule out more serious health problems. If he does have gynecomastia and it does not go away on its own, his doctor may refer him to a specialist for medical or surgical treatment.

Surgical techniques may vary, but typically involve removing the excess tissue directly, with liposuction, or a combination of the two. A surgeon can explain the recommended approach and answer any questions about what to expect from the procedure.

Page Last Modified: 04/23/2013
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