A recent study published in the April issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons – revealed that persistent breast enlargement negatively affects self-esteem and other areas of mental and emotional health in teenage boys.
The study was conducted by American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) member Dr. Brian I. Labow and his colleagues of Boston Children’s Hospital and showed that even mild man boobs can have adverse effects in adolescents on the psychological level.
The researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston examined the physical and psychosocial impact of man boobs and the severity of this condition using data from surveys administered to 47 teenagers with man boobs – gynecomastia – and 92 male adolescent controls, aged 12-21.
Their findings suggested that patients with gynecomastia had a higher body mass index (BMI) than controls. Regardless of BMI category, patients with man boobs had lower scores in three Short-Form 36 domains (general health, social functioning, and mental health) and Rosenberg Self-Esteem scores as compared with controls.
There was no difference between patients and controls in the Eating Attitudes Test-36 scores. The severity of man boobs had no impact on survey scores, independent of body mass index category.
Man boobs was associated with lower self-esteem. This, along with impairment in emotional areas of quality of life, appeared directly linked to gynecomastia, rather than being overweight.
“Our results indicate that careful and regular evaluation for gynecomastia may benefit adolescents regardless of body mass index status or severity of gynecomastia”, wrote the authors. “Additional prospective studies examining treatment outcomes in this population are needed”, they suggested.
The negative psychological effects of man boobs were similar for teens at different levels of severity. “Merely having gynecomastia was sufficient to cause significant deficits in general health, social functioning, mental health, self-esteem, and eating behaviors and attitudes compared with controls”, wrote the researchers.
Man boobs is benign enlargement of the male glandular tissue and is very common in teenage boys. Although this condition usually resolves over time, the problem persists in about 8% of boys. Typically, those with gynecomastia who are overweight or obese may simply be advised to lose weight.
However, losing weight won’t solve the problem in patients with true glandular enlargement, or in those with a large amount of excess skin in the pectoral area.
“As a result, early intervention and treatment for gynecomastia may be necessary to improve the negative physical and emotional symptoms”, added the authors.