How can I tell if my teenage son has gynecomastia?

My son is almost 14 and definitely seems to be going through puberty. He's never been overweight but he's always had a tendency toward chubbiness. He's been growing taller which should help with the chunkiness because his weight will be distributed more evenly. In the meantime, however, he's freaking out because it looks like he has tiny breast buds on his chest! I looked it up and if my son does have it, it's called pubertal gynecomastia. What I read was a little bit scary. I don't want to alarm my son any further by telling him about this condition especially until I know more. First and foremost, how can I find out if it's pubertal gynecomastia or just teenage weight gain?


F, 34, Tennessee

I think the best approach is to have your son checked out by his pediatrician.  He can address to hormonal issues and if the pediatrician is concerned he can give you a referral to a board certified plastic surgeon

What you are describing is not unusual for a teenage boy going through puberty.  If it is fat gain, then it is usually a rounder and softer enlargement.  The formation of firm breast buds just under the nipples probably represents gynecomastia.  

First, as a concerned parent, you must assure him that this is completely normal and it happens to many many boys.  And then you have to keep a watch on it.  Most of the time, it will resolve spontaneously within a year or two.  If it persists two or more years, then it may be considered permanent and then you should bring him to a plastic surgeon for an evaluation.

For further information, please consult my website which is specially devoted to gynecomastia (my sub-specialty):

Elliot W. Jacobs, MD, FACS

New York City

Dr. Elliot Jacobs has 3 Gynecomastia reduction before & afters:

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