How To Help Teenagers With Gynecomastia: Facts You Should Know About Teens Gyno
Growing unwanted breasts can be the worst nightmare for any teenage boy, as it can cause him plenty of social embarrassment and significantly dent his self-confidence.
As per Volume 71 of Cleveland Clinical Journal of Medicine, that focused on gynecomastia; the condition can impact anywhere from 48% to 64% of teenage boys passing through the puberty stage of their lives.
The first signs of this condition can appear anytime around 10 years of age, peaking between 13 to 14 years, followed by a gradual decline during the late teenage years.
These facts about gynecomastia in teenagers were confirmed by Dr. Mikkel Grunnet Mieritz, as a part of his Ph.D. study at the Department of Growth and Reproduction, Copenhagen University Hospital.
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Gynecomastia can be simply termed as the unwanted growth of the breast tissues in growing boys and adult men.
Please note, breast tissues are present in both men and women and are normally found under the nipple area on the person’s chest wall.
In case of adult males and children, these breast tissues are so tiny that they can’t be felt by touch. The growth of these breast tissues depends upon hormones in the body.
It’s primarily estrogen, the female hormone which causes these tissues to grow in size.
Hence, it’s common for girls going through the puberty stage of their lives, as well as women (who have high estrogen levels), to witness continuous growth in their breast tissues.
On the other hand, as testosterone is the main hormone present then male bodies, and usually is higher compared to estrogen, men normally don’t experience the same kind of breast tissue growth as women, despite those tissues being still there.
As a result, breast tissue enlargement in teenage boys and grown-up men are considered unexpected in nature, and is referred to as gynecomastia, or simply gyno.
What is Pubertal Gynecomastia?
Pubertal gynecomastia or teens gyno is specifically a term that is used for referring to the manifestation of gynecomastia during the puberty stage of a man’s life.
Teenage or adolescent years are a time when these breast tissues grow aggressively in almost 48% to 64% of adolescent boys.
Hence, nearly 2 out of every 3 teenage boys would witness a certain level of breast development in their chest areas.
What Causes Gynecomastia in Teenagers?
The occurrence of gynecomastia in teenagers is looked at as a natural phenomenon, something that happens naturally during the course of their physiological growth.
It’s actually part and parcel of the male evolution process, something that cannot normally be avoided.
Puberty is the life stage when the final process of gender separation happens in people through the manifestation of such bodily symptoms.
During these years, the human body undergoes plenty of hormonal fluctuations, and it’s normal to sometimes see a spike in estrogen, the female hormone, in the male body.
The presence of excessive estrogen sends a signal to the male body that it must develop certain feminine features such as breast tissues.
The condition can worsen in case of overweight and obese boys who have a fairly high body fat content.
It’s because of the fact that body fat produces an enzyme called aromatase, which actively converts testosterone into estrogen. Such active testosterone to estrogen conversion is referred to as aromatization.
In few cases, the occurrence of gynecomastia in teenagers can also be because of other reasons including:
- Thyroid or liver diseases
- Regular intake of certain medications, specifically the herbal skin care products and meds for gastro-esophageal reflux and heart problems.
- Genetic conditions
- Tumors or unwanted growths that secrete hormones
The doctor will need to ask a wide range of questions to the patient and carry out a comprehensive examination to ensure that nothing is missed out.
It’s important to mention here that all types of breast enlargement cannot be treated as gynecomastia.
Enlargement of breasts can also be because of excessive fat deposit in the chest or pectoral area, or if the person is obese, with very high-fat content.
Hence, you must first get to the root of the problem and only then seek solutions. Although you can have the condition diagnosed by a family doctor too, it would be better to consult a physician who specializes in gynecomastia treatment.
How to Identify Teenage Gynecomastia?
The first thing that must be done by anyone concerned about growing breast tissues is confirming whether it’s a case of gynecomastia or not.
This can be best done by visiting the doctor specializing in gynecomastia treatment and getting your chest examined by him.
The patient is normally asked to lie flat on his back, keeping his hands clasped under his head. The examining doctor slowly brings his forefinger and separated thumb together from either side of the patient’s breast.
In boys suffering from gynecomastia, the doctor can feel the presence of a firm or rubbery mound of tissue, concentric with the areola.
This mass under the nipple area normally doesn’t pain when squeezed or touched. No such tissue or disk can be found in boys suffering from pseudogynecomastia instead.
Check what's the difference between gynecomastia and chest fat here.
Does Gynecomastia Go away After Teenage Years?
Pubertal gynecomastia normally fades away as a teenager enters adulthood phase of his life. Excessive breast tissues which are normally the cause of such cases fade away with the gradual expansion of the chest of a growing male.
In most cases, gynecomastia in teenagers doesn’t require any sort of intervention and goes away on its own without the need for any further attention.
Besides, teenagers are highly recommended to not take any medication for suppressing the gynecomastia symptoms. If at all they need to, they should do so only after consulting a qualified doctor.
This is because medical intervention can often interfere with the body’s natural process and lead to other complications.
On the other hand, someone who has high-fat content or is obese might need to focus elsewhere as his condition would most likely be because of accumulated fat, known as pseudogynecomastia.
Treatment for Gynecomastia in Boys:
As mentioned above, in a majority of cases pubertal gynecomastia doesn’t require any treatment and goes away on its own.
The parents of the teenager, as well as the boy himself, are advised to keep a close eye on the swelling and see to it that it goes away naturally.
However, in some cases, if the swelling is exceptionally large and is causing plenty of psychological distress and social embarrassment, the patient may be asked to undergo remedial treatment.
Additionally, if such swelling doesn’t go away on its own, even after a couple of years, it might definitely need medical attention.
If the cause of gynecomastia is some medication, you’d need to stop taking that drug immediately (of course if possible). Once you do so, the breast size would slowly return back to normal, without any further intervention.
On the other hand, if your condition is primarily because of an abnormal increase or drops in the estrogen and testosterone levels respectively, your doctor might suggest hormone therapy.
Gynecomastia surgery is the last recourse in such cases, only used if no other treatment works.
Any such surgery should be avoided if the teenager is yet to pass through the puberty stage.
This is because an operation carried out during this stage may simply lead to the regrowth of the breast tissue post the procedure, bringing the patient back to square one position.
Gynecomastia surgery involves removal of breast tissue via a small incision made under the nipple area.
Gynecomastia in teenagers is a very commonly seen phenomenon and affects almost 2/3 of the entire male teenage population.
Majority of the boys see the condition lasting for a maximum of two years and then fading away on its own. In some cases, investigations might be required to ensure that there’s no abnormal swelling in the breast tissues.
Although the patient might be overly keen to get rid of such swollen-up breasts at the earliest, the condition shouldn’t be intervened with unless absolutely necessary.
In cases where the swelling becomes problematic or has been there for more than two years, appropriate treatment options must be looked at accordingly.