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Treatment of adolescent gynecomastia.

PURPOSE: Adolescent gynecomastia is common but variable in severity. The disease may be self-limited. Although antiestrogen therapy can be used in persistent gynecomastia, results are mixed. Subcutaneous mastectomy via a circumareloar incision is familiar to most pediatric surgeons and provides excellent cosmetic results in most cases. Severe gynecomastia may require alternative procedures. There is little information in the pediatric surgical literature to provide the pediatric surgeon with treatment options for these children. A variety of techniques have been used by plastic surgeons for female patients requiring breast reduction and are sometimes a useful addition to the surgical repertoire for the management of very large breasts in adolescent gynecomastia. We reviewed our experience with the use of inferior pedicle reduction mammaplasty and subcutaneous mastectomy in adolescents with gynecomastia and describe the techniques used.

METHODS: After obtaining institutional review board approval, a retrospective review was conducted on all patients operated on for gynecomastia from January 1999 to March 2009. Data recorded included patient demographics, diagnostic evaluation, medical and surgical treatment, complications, and outcome.

RESULTS: Twenty patients underwent an operation for gynecomastia. Eight patients had bilateral inferior pedicle reduction mammaplasty, and 12 patients underwent either unilateral or bilateral subcutaneous mastectomy. The mean age at operation was 15.5 years (range, 14-18 years). In all cases, the histopathologic feature was consistent with gynecomastia. There were no postoperative wound infections. One patient developed a seroma after subcutaneous mastectomy requiring drainage. The mean amount of tissue removed after bilateral reduction mammaplasty was 275.1 g. No patients had devascularization of the nipple-areolar complex or nipple loss. One patient had mild subcutaneous asymmetry after a reduction mammaplasty that required no further intervention. Seven patients (87%) had an excellent cosmetic outcome after reduction mammaplasty. Mean length of follow-up was 18.8 months.

CONCLUSIONS: Although many adolescents with true gynecomastia have mild or self-limited disease, operative treatment may provide significant benefit to the remainder. Milder grades of gynecomastia can be managed with subcutaneous mastectomy. Selected severe cases can be safely and effectively treated with reduction mammaplasty.

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