Teenage male gynecomastia is a benign condition and does not cause any health problems. The reason why we treat it is that it induces embarrassment, discomfort, humiliation, and anxiety. Men who suffer from it often develop significant psychological problems that can affect them for the rest of their lives.
Breast development that occurs in the formative years of puberty can be particularly psychologically harmful as these young boys are developing their sense of sexuality. From the perspective of an adolescent, girls have breasts and not boys. What is a young boy to think if he has breasts? What happens when others make fun of him? What maladaptive behaviors will he adopt to hide this condition and what are the long-term consequences as he moves into adulthood?
Many primary care physicians including Internists, Pediatricians and Family doctors believe that the condition is “nothing” and that over time (in reality, years), it will probably take care of itself. Indeed, in the majority of cases of breast development at puberty, the condition will go away in less than a year. This is a completely normal physiological process that all males will pass through.
However, in about twenty percent of cases, the condition will not go away in a year’s time. These are the kids that may be forced to move into adulthood with gynecomastia and suffer the consequences of persistent breast fullness.
So here is my recommendation to all you parents who have young adolescents with breast tissue: Wait one year for the condition to take care of itself. If it doesn’t go away and your child is showing signs of maladaptive behavior (never taking off his shirt, avoidance behavior, antisocial behavior, or complaints about bullying at school), start to consider visiting a qualified gynecomastia expert.
Ignoring the obvious, believing that it will just go away with time, or delaying treatment will cause your child unnecessary psychological harm.