Gynecomastia in Adolescents: Psychosocial Impact
Gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, is a relatively common benign condition that affects boys during puberty. Although up to 2/3 of boys may develop gynecomastia at some point during adolescence, in most cases this will resolve on its own without treatment, usually by age 14-16 years. A new study evaluates the negative psychosocial impact of gynecomastia in adolescent boys, specifically in terms of social functioning, mental health and self-esteem.
There are different degrees of severity of gynecomastia, depending on the amount of breast tissue, excess skin, and droopiness of the breasts. Often there may be asymmetry between the two sides. Overweight or obese patients have an increased likelihood of gynecomastia, and weight loss should be advocated in these patients. Interestingly, the study found that severity of gynecomastia did not correlate with negative psychosocial impact of the condition. Adolescents with any degree of breast enlargement, from mild to severe, were equally affected in terms of general health, self-esteem, social functioning and mental health. Treatment of gynecomastia in teenage boys usually involves surgical intervention with minimally invasive procedure such as liposuction, and possibly direct surgical excision to remove any remaining breast tissue.
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