Breast enlargement is common in adolescent boys. In most cases, this disappears with age but in up to eight percent of boys, the condition persists, negatively affecting self-esteem and other areas of mental and emotional health. These negative feelings are not related to the severity of gynecomastia or the patient’s weight. Merely having gynecomastia is sufficient to cause significant deficits in general health, social functioning, mental health, self-esteem and eating behaviors. Some boys with gynecomastia are overweight or obese but weight reduction typically does not correct the problem.
As a result of these issues, early surgical intervention to treat gynecomastia can improve the negative physical and emotional symptoms. For these reasons, many adolescents seek correction of gynecomastia rather than waiting until they are older. They are suffering and can achieve the same high degree of personal satisfaction with the surgery as in adults.
The office consultation is best done with a parent although this is not legally required. The age of medical consent in the province of Quebec is 14 years of age. Careful attention is given to his medical history and level of both physical and emotional maturity. In most cases, surgery is not considered if his breasts are still growing. In some cases, the gynecomastia can be reversed with medication under the guidance of an endocrinologist. It is important that the adolescent understand the important steps in proceeding with surgery including risks, scars and the ability to follow the postoperative regime.
While there is no specific age when an adolescent can or cannot have gynecomastia surgery, it is best delayed until their level of understanding of these important issues matures. That being said, there is no medical reason to tell a young man suffering from having breast enlargement to simply “wait until you are older”. Years of physical and mental pain can be alleviated with a reliable and safe outpatient procedure.
An excellent review from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® entitled Gynecomastia has a psychological impact on adolescent boys: Effects on self-esteem and social functioning support early intervention and treatment is recommended reading.
For more information about having gynecomastia in your adolescent years, please contact our office for a consultation. We look forward to helping you reach your goals!