Male Breast Enlargement May Be Common
Condition Known as Gynecomastia May Occur in Nearly Half of Men
WebMD News Archive
Gynecomastia in Puberty continued...
Recently, doctors have found that use of products containing
lavender oil or tea tree oil may trigger breast growth in preteen boys,
says Braunstein, citing a study published earlier in 2007. The boys who
developed the breast growth had been using a lavender oil skin balm, a hair gel
with lavender and tea tree oils, or lavender-scented soap and skin lotions.
When they stopped using the products, their breasts returned to normal within a
After ruling out other conditions, a pediatrician typically suggests waiting
to see if the gynecomastia disappears, Braunstein says, typically telling the
patient to return in three months.
"About 95% of the time, this [condition during puberty] will disappear
within three to six months," he says.
Another expert, Yong Bao, MD, assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology
at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, agrees that
"tincture of time" often works. The smaller the growth, the more likely
it will go away, Bao says. "After the peak of puberty, it usually goes
away," he says.
"Most teens do not need any therapy," Braunstein says. But if the
breasts are very tender and the patient is bothered by a large degree of
growth, doctors may suggest taking tamoxifen, used in breast cancer treatment,
Braunstein says. It works by interfering with the activity of estrogen on the
breast cells, thus stopping the growth. While tamoxifen is not officially
approved for this purpose, it's used "off-label," which is legal. A
course of three months of the drug is typical, he says.
About 60% of teens and adults who take tamoxifen have complete regression of
the growth, Braunstein says, citing published studies, and about 80% have at
least partial regression.
If tamoxifen does not work, male breast reduction or liposuction can be