Mar 17, 2022
Apr 25, 2023
Does your son hide under baggy clothes? It could be due to gynecomastia (a medical condition that cause male breasts to enlarge) or puffy nipples!
Does your son hide under baggy clothes? It could be due to enlarged breasts or puffy nipples! Gynecomastia is a term that derives from the Greek word for breast (mastos). It’s caused by elevated estrogen levels during puberty and affects 70% of adolescent boys aged 12 to 16. Let’s look at this abnormal male breast development – and options for gynecomastia surgery.
While parents can agree that their teenagers are mostly a hot mess, if you notice your son becoming anxious or depressed, or withdrawing from friends and social activities, something else could be going on.
When he is navigating hormones, mood swings and social-media-induced paranoia about everything – especially outward appearances – his breasts or ‘puffy nipples’ will be the last subject he’ll want to raise with his parents, let alone a friend. He could spiral into anxiety and depression with no one to talk to and even start questioning his sexuality.
Thankfully, gynecomastia goes away on its own in about 95% of boys. However, if the enlarged breasts remain after two years, the condition will likely be permanent and can only be corrected by gynecomastia surgery.
Adolescent gynecomastia can go up to a C- or D-cup size. An oversized nipple-areola complex (puffy nipples) can appear distorted and look feminine; there may be a discharge and soreness or discomfort in rare cases.
You may also start to notice a change in your son’s behaviour or demeanour. He may become moody, slouch, or appear self-conscious when undressing by the pool; gradually, he may avoid social activities altogether.
Firm and fibrous male breast tissue will not disappear with age or exercise. If the breasts are severely enlarged, it’s unlikely they will return to normal.
In most adolescent patients, correction through gynecomastia surgery leads to immediate cosmetic improvement. The young, elastic and pliable skin quickly contracts back to the muscle after the gland is removed; this ability decreases with age. Removing the breast tissue is a permanent solution unless the area is stimulated to grow again.
Gynecomastia feels like a mound of fibrous and firm tissue. When the patient wears a form-fitting shirt, the breasts look like female breasts with some droopiness and loose skin.
Dr Ivan Puah at Amaris B. Clinic has been performing gynecomastia surgery for more than a decade. He says, “History-taking (that is, consulting with the patient over time) and physical examinations such as pinch tests are the keys to diagnosing if a patient is suffering from gynecomastia.”
Dr Puah has also developed a specific technique – known as 360º Glandular Tissue Dissection (360º GTD) – to treat gynecomastia.
While the surgical option can seem daunting, Dr Puah says that 360º GTD effectively reduces the invasive factor of the procedure. An incision no bigger than 4mm is made on the breast to administer the anaesthetic and remove the glandular tissues. Vaser liposuction removes excessive fatty tissues around the breasts, leaving the surrounding connective tissues, blood vessels and nerves relatively undisrupted. The chest is returned to normal with further sculpting.
Puberty is hard enough for boys without the anguish of gynecomastia. Remember that raging hormones, physical changes, sexuality, and discovering the opposite sex can be a lot to deal with. We can pay more attention and talk to our boys about solutions before anxiety kicks in. This brings enormous relief and peace of mind, so they can enjoy growing into vibrant young men.
Watch the video below to see the common gynecomastia questions that patients often ask Dr Ivan Puah.