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Breast Enlargement in Boys

What is breast enlargement in boys?

Breast enlargement in boys is also called gynecomastia. It is most common early in puberty. A boy may notice that his breast is tender and that a small area of tissue can be felt beneath his nipple. Usually this change is mild but sometimes the breast gets bigger and starts looking like a female breast.

What is the cause?

Male bodies have both testosterone and estrogen hormones. Men usually have more testosterone than estrogen. Breast enlargement in boys may be caused by a temporary imbalance of estrogen hormones during puberty.

Medicines used to treat depression, seizures, and other problems may also cause breast enlargement. Tell your healthcare provider about any medicines or supplements your son is taking.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Swollen breasts
  • Breast tenderness

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your child and check for other conditions that might be a reason for development of the breasts. In some cases your child may have blood tests

How is it treated?

In most cases no treatment is needed. The tenderness usually lasts for just a few months and then goes away. The breasts usually get smaller. The condition seldom lasts longer than 2 years. It is rare for this condition to reach the point where your son is embarrassed about his breasts.

If a boy’s breasts are very big (greater than 2 inches, or 5 centimeters, in diameter), possible treatments may include changing medicines that cause the problem, hormone therapy, or surgery.

How can I help take care of my child?

Loose clothing may be more comfortable for your son than tightly fitting shirts.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How long it will take your child to recover from this condition
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when you should bring your child back for a checkup.

Written by Robert M. Brayden, MD, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2016-05-11
Last reviewed: 2018-05-09
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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