Your Son Can Be Hiding a Secret… Gynecomastia is more than just a cosmetic issue

male_breastYou may have heard stories in the media about bullying and a rash of suicides that was reported among teenage boys who’d been systematically bullied. Bullying is one of the evils found in schools, and the spotlight has been placed on this topic as of late. What we as parents may not know however, is the ongoing crisis of cruelty among America’s boys as it relates to a common medical condition.

I bring this up because I often see a condition in my practice that has a long history of triggering cruelty and abuse from others. This condition is called gynecomastia, enlargement of the male breast, and it is not uncommon among teenage boys and young men. This is a debilitating condition that could begin years of savage bullying, peer ridicule and impair self-confidence. Symptoms may start appearing at any time but are often first seen in adolescent boys around the ages of 12-14, and middle aged men around the age of 40.

Often, victims don’t report being taunted over this condition because they don’t understand it. They feel ashamed over having “man boobs” or “girls breasts” and hide their chests as much as possible. Parents of young boys need to look for the telltale signs of the deformity: hunched shoulders, baggy clothes, and refusal to take off shirts, refusal to take part in sports or anything involving movement. Often times this begins a nightmare that a child/adolescent should not have to endure.

Even mild gynecomastia can have adverse psychological effects in boys, according to the study by ASPS Member Surgeon Dr. Brian I. Labow and colleagues of Boston Children’s Hospital. They believe their findings have important implications for early intervention and treatment, including male breast reduction in appropriate cases.

Surgery is performed in an outpatient surgical facility or hospital. This requires excellent surgical skills as well as artistry – knowing how much tissue to remove and how much tissue to retain. Time in surgery is typically an hour and half, but more extensive male breast reduction may take longer. The patient typically goes home the same day for recovery. The first few days of recovery are the most critical time where vigorous movements of the shoulder joints are not allowed. Within 4 to 5 weeks of the operation the patient is allowed to resume full activities.

In a new study released recently, boys with gynecomastia were compared to healthy, unaffected peers of the same age and gender. The adolescents with gynecomastia were found to have significantly lower measures of mental health, self-esteem and social functioning. Boys with gynecomastia also had higher rates of disordered eating thoughts and behaviors than their peers. Prior studies have found higher rates of depression, anxiety and embarrassment in boys with larger chests. Parents and patients should be aware of the psychosocial issues associated with gynecomastia, and consider early evaluation for adolescents suffering from this condition, regardless of severity.

If you know anyone who is suffering from this condition, please bring him in for a talk and consultation. No person should have to endure social embarrassment or worse because of gynecomastia. Medical science has trumped this one. Male Breast Reduction

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