Breast surgery for boys on the rise

Filed under: Teens, Places To Go, Health & Safety: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies, Day Care & Education

Hating your body is not just for girls anymore. An increasing number of males are succumbing to the pressure to have the perfect physique and are undergoing surgery to make it happen. Like many women who have surgery for cosmetic reasons, the focus is on the breasts. Girls want theirs bigger, boys want theirs smaller.

Enlarged male breasts, or gynecomastia, isn't new but the number of males seeking treatment for it is on the rise. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 14,000 boys between the ages of 13 and 19 had surgery to reduce the size of their breasts in 2006.

Plastic surgeons attribute this increase in surgery to the rising rates of obesity. But often the condition is caused by the normal fluctuations in hormones common in puberty and these patients would most likely outgrow the condition given enough time. But embarrassment can be a very motivating emotion and leads many guys - and their doctors - to believe that surgery is the best option for them.

Dr. Roxanne Guy is a plastic surgeon in Florida and the president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. She says that while obesity is certainly an issue, many boys just don't have the patience to let nature resolve the situation. "Boys these days are much more in tune with trying to look good, to try to look like the models on the covers of the fitness magazines," she said. "Be that good or bad, sometimes they can go overboard, and in this sense they are beginning to resemble teenage girls.

I find it disheartening that children feel pressure to look like models and even more disheartening that adults are enabling this quest for perfection. I appreciate that adolescence can be an awkward time for a child, physically and emotionally, but in the absence of a health threat, why would a parent consent to surgery for a condition their child will most likely outgrow?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.