Gynecomastia in Teenagers – Causes and Treatment

by Matt on August 24, 2015

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Gynecomastia in teenagers, just like in adult males, can be embarrassing but it’s normal. In fact the statistics show more than 50% of pubescent boys and teens are affected by the condition. Man boobs, as it is colloquially known, usually manifests when you go through puberty so in some cases swelling of the chest can show up in boys as young as 10 and up to 13 or 14 years of age.

Gynecomastia in teenagersWhat are the Symptoms?

The most obvious symptoms are enlarged breasts. There are no specifics involved as far as size goes, but you will notice that your breasts are not flat and they swell in shape similar to that of a woman’s. Apart from the size, boys will notice that their breasts have a firm or rubbery feel, and there could also be a breast bud on one or both breasts. These buds are usually about the size of a quarter or a nickel and appear during puberty. There’s no need to worry about this though as it isn’t permanent and will go away.

Pubertal Gynecomastia Causes

Teenagers with man boobs are not unusual as noted above, and there’s a scientific explanation for it. Gynecomastia is a sign of the physical changes taking place in the male body during puberty. There are many possible reasons for man boobs, but when it comes to teenagers, it is almost always due to hormonal changes resulting in physical changes.

To better understand this, understand that male breast enlargement starts when you’re a baby. This is considered as level one of male breast development, while the second level occurs during the aforementioned puberty stage. Following puberty there is a natural decline and male breasts should return to their normal state. It is when you’re between 60 to 80 years old that the final stage can take place as breast tissue starts growing. The term pubertal gynecomastia only applies when the conditions manifest during the puberty stage of course.

In the case of newborn babies, estrogen is derived from the mother so it’s not uncommon to see breast buds even in baby boys. This should not be cause for worry because these buds will disappear after six months. In some preteen boys man boobs may be brought about by a tumor that produces estrogen though it’s rare. Going back to the buds, there are cases wherein it has lasted for two years, but most likely disappear after a year.

How is Diagnosis Performed?

Because the symptoms are so obvious, there’s usually no need for a diagnosis. If tests will be performed it’s going to include a medical examination and a check of your medical records and what meds you have been taking. At least that’s how it’s usually done if both breasts are enlarged. But if only one breast is swollen and is hard or tender, your doctor might recommend a biopsy just to make sure there aren’t any other reasons for it.

It’s hard to emphasize this enough: males can develop breast cancer as well so if you notice one breast has a lump, inform your doctor immediately. This becomes even more urgent if you have close relatives that have cancer. A biopsy can determine if it’s cancerous or not so have it checked immediately.

Is Treatment Necessary?

As uncomfortable as man boobs may be, it usually doesn’t require medical treatment. When breast enlargement manifests in male teens or prepubescent boys, there’s no need to do anything because more often than not it’s going to go away on its own. During puberty there is increased interaction between estrogens (female hormones) and androgens (male hormones), and yes, males also have a bit of estrogen.

Puberty is marked by changes in the human body, and one of those is development of the breast tissue. However this is normal and it should only be a cause for concern if the breast enlargement does not stop after puberty and continues as you enter adulthood. If your breasts continue to swell, then that’s real gynecomastia and not just the condition associated with puberty, so it requires treatment.

Barring that condition however, gynecomastia in teens will cease to be a problem as you exit puberty. The extraneous tissue responsible for breast swelling will flatten out even if you don’t take any medications. In fact you’re probably going to make things worse if you take steps to prevent it because you’re preventing your body from reaching its natural growth potential.

Teenagers should never take medications or drugs that will suppress it without the supervision and consent of a doctor. Remember too that if you’re overweight with excess body fat, your condition might be more appropriately termed pseudogynecomastia. There’s a big difference between the two and have to be dealt with appropriately.

Pseudogynecomastia is caused by obesityIf your gynecomastia is caused by medication, stop taking that drug and your breasts should return to normal size. In some instances you have to undergo treatment to cure gynecomastia.

If the condition is brought about by an increase in estrogen and / or low testosterone levels, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy. The last recourse is surgery, but this is almost always applicable only in adult gynecomastia cases and only if the other treatments don’t work.

If the cause is due to excess weight and poor diet, the best recourse is to change your diet and lifestyle and exercise regularly. This is probably going to be difficult for many, but it is the best option, and unless your dietary habits change, the problem will not go away. Even if you have surgery and have the fats removed, they will return if you don’t change your lifestyle.

Are There Other Possible Causes of Gynecomastia?

As was pointed out above, the most common cause of man boobs among boys and teens is puberty, and unless there’s evidence to indicate otherwise, that must be the assumption. However, there are other possible causes such as drug abuse, genetic deficiency or the side effect of a medication you’re taking for another medical condition. And of course if you’re overweight the excess fat will be deposited in various parts of your body such as your arms, thighs and chest.

Why is Gynecomastia Common in Teenagers?

The most likely culprit is hormones and to be more specific, estrogens. Estrogen is the hormone that fosters the primary female characteristics, just as testosterone produces the male characteristics. Estrogen levels in females are higher, but some boys have a higher level of estrogen and this is what leads to the growth of their breasts. This doesn’t mean they’re going to develop other female characteristics however, and when puberty ends these estrogen levels will drop back to normal.

Teens man boobs are a common condition but not all males develop it. As was pointed out earlier, man boobs affects more than half of male teenagers so there’s no need to worry if you have it. At the same time, don’t fret if your breasts are normal and don’t swell up during puberty. The level of swelling varies as well but regardless of the size your breasts will flatten around the time you enter your 20s.

Adult Gynecomastia

Though the symptoms may be similar, pubertal and adult gynecomastia are two different things and should not be confused with one another. Adult gynecomastia has many other possible causes such as hormonal imbalance, thyroid problems or cancer of the pituitary gland. There is also evidence that smoking, marijuana and heroin abuse can lead to breast enlargement in adult males.

Gynecomastia diagnosis and treatmentThe use of the following medications can also lead to gynecomastia, both in teens and adults:

  • Dexamethasone, prednisone and other steroids
  • Cimetidine and other medications used as ulcer treatment
  • Phenytoin and other medications used as epilepsy treatment
  • Some types of heart medication like digitalis might lead to breast swelling as well
  • The drugs used in chemotherapy may also lead to gynecomastia. Alkylating agents, which are a special group of anticancer drugs, are also known to cause breast swelling in men.
  • Antiandrogen drugs like spironolactone, cyproterone and flutamide may induce breast enlargement
  • Antidepressant and antianxiety drugs like Valium and tricyclic antidepressants carry a lot of side effects, and one of those is gynecomastia

Keep in mind that just because you take one or more of these medications doesn’t mean you will develop gynecomastia. It simply means that if you get man boobs, you should look into these drugs as among the possible culprits.

When Should I See a Doctor?

You should only see a doctor is if you feel physical pain in your chest or if you think the enlargement is due to medication you’re taking. You might also want to see a specialist if the condition persists beyond puberty. During your appointment, inform the doctor what medications you’re taking and if you’re unweight. Only then will your doctor decide if yours is just a case of teenagers with man boobs or something else.

However the bottom line is, gynecomastia in teenagers is usually not a serious issue as it is part of growing up.

 

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Liam December 4, 2016 at 3:40 am

Im a dude thats 13 and at the end of my school year i go to wild waves so im most likely going to have my shirt off the whole time and i am not over weight but have gynecomastia and i am just worried of what the girls will think of me and i just want to have normal breast again. Any solutions if i cant get rid of the gynecomastia

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Matt December 6, 2016 at 9:39 am

Hi Liam. At your age I can only advice you to exercise and have a healthy diet. Your gynecomastia should go away on its own, but healhy lifestyle can definitely help. Sorry but no medications are advised at your age as they can mess up with your hormones.

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gavin December 11, 2016 at 8:44 am

i’m 21 and i still have it. i weigh around 208 as a junior in high school and as a senior in college i weigh 155. ive also grown about 3-4 inches (im now about 6’0). is this still pubertal gynecomastia or is this adult? i was a late bloomer and probably didn’t start puberty full on until i was about 15. any answers would be amazing. i’m going to see a doctor soon because my chest is abnormally sensitive. they don’t hurt necessarily but they’re very sensitive. i was also told it could be a testosterone deficiency since i’m so tired all the time with weird appetite and the way my body is shaped (skinny arms, wider hips and love handles and skinny legs).

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Matt December 11, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Hi Gavin. You are right that you going to consult your condition with a doctor. It’s hard to say if it’s still pubertal gyno or and adult one. Could be pubertal and probably will be gone in some time, but if you are over sensitive at that area you definitey should check it with a doctor to eliminate any other possibilities.

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gavin December 12, 2016 at 11:19 pm

if it’s pubertal, will a hormone treatment help? my mom has a lot of hormone deficiencies and i have a lot of symptoms of low T. could that possibly be a reason?

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Matt December 16, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Yes Gavin, it could definitely help but most doctors are very reluctant to prescribe it at this stage as there is a chance of pubertal gyno to go away on its own.

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Mason December 13, 2016 at 11:30 am

Hey I’m 15 and have had pubertal gyno for a couple of years and it’s pretty much gone now, but my nipple is still puffy an it’s so annoying and looks ridiculous. I’m extremely lean and really muscular and have a good diet and sleeping pattern. So when will it go back to normal because I need it fixed ASAP and is there any other solutions other than surgery. Thanks

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Matt December 16, 2016 at 3:50 pm

There are different solutions but is hard for me to tell what would be the best for you. I would try Gynexol cream as you can apply it exactly at the nipples area.

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hamza Sher December 15, 2016 at 6:24 am

Hey, My name is Hamza Sher, iam 17 and I still have gynecomastia since I was a 13 year old boy . Can you tell me about what kind of gyneomastia or which stage of gynecomastia is it? please consult me……………………….
there is no doctor I know where iam living…………………………………………

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Matt December 16, 2016 at 3:42 pm

I’m sorry Hamza Sher but I’m not a doctor and can’t consult you. Also can’t help you with my advice after reading your short comment. Howver at your age you could still have pubertal gynecomastia.

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Mostofa Faiad Kamal December 19, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Hi.i am a boy of 16.5 years and have had slight gyno since 12.i have always had the right diet and exercise for my age.Now i have a masculine physice perfect for my age.i even have an almost defined six pack.But i still have slight gyno on my almost flat chest.what is your advice?

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Matt December 20, 2016 at 11:24 am

Hi Mostofa. You are doing everything right fo your age and your gyno will eventually disappear. Keep exercising and eat well and you will be in a great shape and without gyno soon.

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ayat December 26, 2016 at 7:38 pm

hey my name is ayat and i am a 17 year old. I am abit over weight and are abit chubby. Now i am not sure if my breasts are big due to over weight or gyno but they are puffy and sometimes erect and the nipples
pop out. They are rubbery. i really want these to go but dont wanna take any medicines or surgery. Is this pubertrial and will it go?

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Matt January 20, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Hi Ayat. It is a big chance that your condition is the pubertal gyno. At your age it is quite common and in most cases is going away without treatment. If you want to be sure you should consult it with a doctor.

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DeMarco Williams January 5, 2017 at 9:18 am

I live in Iowa, Usa. Since the beginning of winter my nipples and the area around it has enlarged but not by alot. The gyno or the tissue is about the size of a quarter or a bit bigger and the area around it is about the size of a mini frisbee or the circumference of a coffee mug. I dont know if i should have surgery or let it grow and see what happens! Its really uncomfortable wearing just a tee because then it stands out greatly. Right now i wear sweatshirts everyday to hid the gyno or tissue. The winter season is almost over and by that time it might even grow bigger. I just need a way to hid it or reduce the size. I want a normal male breast again. Im also skinny but adverage weight. The gyno pops or stands out about 1 1/2 or 2 inches from my regular skin or pec. I need help!

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Matt January 20, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Hey. I don’t know what age you are. If you are teenager your gyno could disappear soon without any treatment. However, it is always better to check it with a doctor. Do it as soon as you can, as sometimes it can lead to some more serious complications. It’s always better to know what you are dealing with.

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Zed January 17, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Umm , Same here im 13 i really dont know what im going thru as im not sure if i have the condition of gyno or just normal fats .. when i touch under my nipples , i can feel there is something underneath and moving around when i move my fingers while touching my nipples .. really need help as will be attending a camp soon near the late march

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Matt January 20, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Hi Zed. I have no chance to diagnse your problem. Go to your normal doctor and ask for consultation.

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Calvin January 20, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Hi, i am 13 yrs old boy, 120 lbs. I notice my left breast swollen up, feel like a big glance, hurt to touch. But on the right side is flat, normal. I am concerns. Is it normal?

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Matt January 30, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Calvin, you should be concerned and should go to a doctor to check it. You know, it is hard to diagnose someone online. This is your health and you should treat it seriously.

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Divvy Diviin January 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm

I’m of 15 and I’m very much tensed about this problem. What naturally should I do to be cured without any problem or harm.
Please reply

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Matt January 30, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Hi Divvy.
There are no cures for gynecomastia intended for teenagers. At your age, your body is changing but all unpleasant changes should disappear naturally without any intervention. What you can do, is to consult your problem with a doctor and keep healthy diet.

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Lio February 13, 2017 at 9:31 pm

Hi. I’m 13 almost 14 and have “puffy nipples” for a couple of years now. I am not fat or any way overweight. I am wondering when it will go away, because I don’t know if it should already have gone away after a year (now almost 2.5 years) or it should go aways at 18. Should I go see a doctor or consider surgery?

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Matt February 17, 2017 at 10:22 am

In most cases, it would go away for teenagers but obviously, you should consult it with a doctor. Surgery is a last resort so be sure you first have a proper diagnose from a doctor.

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Trishul March 11, 2017 at 11:32 am

i am 16 and i have this thingy.. any way i can get rid of…. i am really worried….. since 6years

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Matt March 13, 2017 at 11:04 am

Hi Trishul. At your age, you definitely have pubertal gynecomastia. The best you can do is to check it with a doctor. It should go away on its own but it’s always good to have a professional consultation.

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Zack March 28, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Hi iam 16 and I had a bit enlargement of chest when I was 14 now I am 16…..can you please tell me that what Is going on actually….

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Matt March 30, 2017 at 10:08 am

Hi Zack. It looks like you have pubertal gynecomastia. It should go away on its own but you definitely should check it with your doctor to be sure what is going on.

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moses April 11, 2017 at 9:55 pm

I had a lump in my nipple.it started two years ago,but now its gone but it won’t go back to its normal size.its making me feel uncomfortable, will it go by itself.?

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Matt April 18, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Hi Moses. If you are a teenager it could disappear on its own. However, you can’t be sure so better go to check it with a doctor.

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Jim April 17, 2017 at 5:50 pm

Hi,I am 17.I have both breast swollen since i am 10…I am thin except my chest area, just 110 lbs…What should i do…I follow a good diet order…

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Matt April 18, 2017 at 8:24 pm

Hi Jim. The best you can do is to check it with a doctor. After consultation, you will be in a better position to apply a proper treatment.

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Sheik April 22, 2017 at 8:05 pm

I am currently 19 and I workout everyday,and have been controlling my diet to the point where I havr become skinny.My chest is around 60% muscle but the rest seems to be fat that just doesn’t go away,should I visit a doctor?

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Matt April 29, 2017 at 9:11 pm

Hi. If you feel uncomfortable with your chest fat checking with a doctor is definitely a good option.

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deepa May 1, 2017 at 4:40 pm

my one breast areola size small, and this breast is small in size…and in whole breast feel tight to other .,like buds,or in whole breast lump,,and area of underarm swellon,,whats the reagion for this prblm,,this is happen ,,,along the growths of my breast at puberty and my age is 22 year,

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