Psychosocial Impact of Adolescent Gynecomastia: A Prospective Case-Control Study

Dr. Brian I. Labow MD Boston Children’s eInterview with Dr. Brian I. Labow MD
Boston Children’s Hospital
Dr. Labow received his MD from Harvard Medical School. He completed his postgraduate training at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Plastic Surgery Training Program, Children’s Hospital Boston, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Labow: The main finding of the study is that gynecomastia, the enlargement of breast tissue in men, can have a significant impact on the psychosocial wellbeing of adolescent patients.  Noted deficits were found in patients’ social functioning, mental health, and self-esteem when compared to healthy boys of the same age.  Validated surveys were given to both groups to assess a wide array of different health domains.  Interestingly there was no difference in the physical health of boys with gynecomastia and unaffected boys when differences in BMI were taken into consideration. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Labow: We were surprised to find that the negative impact of gynecomastia was independent of severity.  Merely having gynecomastia was sufficient to cause significantly lower rates of social functioning, mental health, and self-esteem as compared to healthy controls.  As a result, adolescents with only minor gynecomastia may be impacted as severely as those with more obvious breast enlargement. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Labow:  Clinicians and patients should be aware that although gynecomastia has historically been viewed as a cosmetic issue, it has the potential to negatively affect an adolescent’s quality of life, specifically their self-esteem and emotional and social health.  Early surgical treatment, regardless of severity, may alleviate these associated psychosocial issues. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Labow: Our study has confirmed that deficits in mental and social health exist in adolescents with gynecomastia, but no study has sought to examine how these deficits improve after surgical intervention.  Future studies should compare the social and emotional health of gynecomastia patients before and after surgery to assess the effectiveness of surgical treatment on patients’ psychosocial wellbeing.


Psychosocial Impact of Adolescent Gynecomastia: A Prospective Case-Control Study

Nuzzi, Laura C. B.A.; Cerrato, Felecia E. M.P.H.; Erikson, Cameron R. B.S.; Webb, Michelle L. B.A.; Rosen, Heather M.D., M.P.H.; Walsh, Erika M. M.D.; DiVasta, Amy D. M.D., M.M.Sc.; Greene, Arin K. M.D., M.M.Sc.; Labow, Brian I. M.D.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery:

April 2013 – Volume 131 – Issue 4 – p 890–896

doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182818ea8


Last Updated on April 10, 2013 by Marie Benz MD FAAD