Many young men and women develop concerns about their chest or breasts as they enter their adolescent years. These issues may include uncomfortably large breasts, different-sized breasts, lumps, pain, and more.
Children experience dramatic growth changes during their teenage years, and in many instances it's hard to know what's normal. When breast-related symptoms are interfering with your everyday life, or that of your child, this may not simply be a phase or a cosmetic issue. Some pediatric breast conditions can affect physical health and mental well-being, and may benefit from evaluation and in some cases treatment.
The Adolescent Breast Center at Boston Children's Hospital is the first program in the nation dedicated exclusively to evaluating and treating breast conditions in teens, children and young adults. Our center uses a broad, research-driven approach focused on restoring self-confidence and improving quality of life.
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Problems with breast and chest wall development are more common — and often have a bigger impact — than many parents and primary care physicians realize. For instance, breasts that are disproportionately large for a girl's body (macromastia) may cause chronic neck and back pain, interfere with sports and other activities, and can attract teasing and unwanted attention. Similarly, research shows that boys with extra breast tissue (gynecomastia) have lower self-esteem and quality of life compared to their peers.
We've assembled a team of experts to help manage and treat the full spectrum of breast diagnoses, with an understanding of both the physical and psychological impacts these conditions have on adolescents. We work together with the Division of Adolescent Medicine and the Department of Surgery at Boston Children's to offer comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations. These include surgical options as well as non-surgical solutions. We believe a patient's age shouldn't deter physicians from evaluating and treating serious breast-related problems.
Our center has led the way in the research of breast conditions in adolescents. Brian Labow, MD, a cofounder of the center, is the principal investigator for the Adolescent Breast Clinic Registry, which is publishing first-of-its-kind research in peer-reviewed journals examining the impact of these conditions on adolescents.
This research is starting to paint a picture of breast health as much more than a cosmetic issue. Healthy breast development is central to a young adult's emerging identity. Informing patients that these conditions are not that uncommon, and that treatment options exist, is often enough to start improving a teenager's outlook on life.