Redefining masculinity: The growing appeal of plastic surgery among men
While plastic surgery has traditionally been considered a feminine pursuit, the tides are turning. In the last decade or so, we have seen a growing presence of men pursuing plastic surgery to maintain and enhance their appearances. And not only is there a shift towards more men seeking out plastic surgery, but men taking this aspect of their health into their own hands is also becoming more widely accepted.
But what is driving this positive change? Is there anything that men should keep in mind when deciding to dip their toes into the realm of plastic surgery? To get a better insight into this shift in perspective among men seeking plastic surgery, we spoke with Joseph Mele, MD, FACS, and Joseph Russo, MD, to gather their expert opinions.
The shift in perspective around plastic surgery
Since its inception, plastic surgery has been considered a more feminine undertaking, with primarily women participating. But now, various trends have emerged in plastic surgery, including an increase in males seeking out plastic surgery.
"With the last couple generations, it's been younger and younger patients," said Russo. "Partially because we're living longer and better lives, but a lot has to do with the rise in social media. We're not getting older and trying to look younger – we're staying looking young. The trend is shifting because men want to be a part of this."
While women have historically been more inclined to pursue and network for information on plastic surgery, men are starting to catch up. In fact, men are taking the initiative to research and ask for advice about certain procedures.
"I recently had a young man come into the office for liposuction of the love handles," said Mele. "He was an excellent candidate and well-informed about the risks and benefits of liposuction. When I asked him how he knew so much about the procedure, he said he had read about it on the internet, and when he talked to his father about it, his father told him that he had also had liposuction of the love handles. His father referred him to me."
Everyone wants to look their best, hence the reason plastic surgery has become more socially acceptable for men in the recent decade or so.
"When it first started, it was hush-hush and behind closed doors, but it's now out in the open," said Russo. "It's more like a badge of courage for men, and they are proud of it."
Popular procedures for men
While men have an interest in many different plastic surgery procedures, liposuction, primarily in the abdomen, flanks and waist, is one procedure that stands out. There is also an increasing popularity in gynecomastia reduction, or liposuction of the breast area, to combat what's popularly known as 'man boobs.'
Additionally, men often seek out eyelid lifts, facelifts, rhinoplasty and otoplasty. There is also a consideration for neck lifts, with Russo acknowledging "necks in men tend to show age more than faces in men."
In addition to traditional surgical procedures, many men are being drawn to noninvasive procedures such as neurotoxins and fillers. There is also a boost in interest in skincare and other procedures such as microneedling, ultrasound and laser procedures.
According to Russo, these procedures are so popular among men because they can "get a result without much downtime, and the guys at work won't know the difference." Because plastic surgery for men can still be a bit of a taboo topic, they tend to lean towards procedures that fly a little more under the radar.
The future of plastic surgery for men
Looking forward to the future of plastic surgery offers a bright and favorable perspective. With advances in technology and research, we will continue to see new innovations hit the market that will better treat concerns for both men and women.
One promising area of advancement is in the space of noninvasive treatments such as skin-tightening. This area has shown amazing potential in the areas of ultrasound, lasers, new plasma technologies and radio frequency.
"They're getting better, safer, faster," said Russo. "The idea now is that prevention as a whole is a lot easier than repair. If you can start these procedures at earlier points in your life, you may not need surgery later."
We will continue to see amazing advancements in these areas, with new technologies that will no doubt change the nature of the plastic surgery industry.
"Whatever technologies are out there now, five years from now will be completely obsolete, and there will be something so much better," said Russo.
Along with advancements in treatments comes the opportunity to better cater to the male patient.
"Historically, the majority of cosmetic plastic surgery has been performed on women," said Mele. "As a result, many of the techniques were developed for women. As more and more men have cosmetic surgeries, the differences between male and female plastic surgery have been brought to the forefront."
Whether it's emphasizing differences in body proportions for procedures or how to better emphasize and enhance masculine features, these advancements offer a promising future for male plastic surgery patients.
Tips and tricks to maximize your results
If you are considering dipping your toe into plastic surgery or noninvasive procedures, there are a few key tips to keep in mind to maximize your experience and results.
Get started early
As so many surgeons advise, the earlier you start taking care of your appearance, the better.
"The earlier you approach the problem, the easier it is, the less expensive it is and the less downtime you'll have," said Russo.
Do your homework
If you're thinking about undergoing a procedure, always take the time to do your research.
"You should become familiar with the procedures used for," said Mele. "The area for which you are looking to enhance. Know the options and become familiar with the pros and cons of each procedure. This will allow you to better understand any recommendations your chosen plastic surgeon makes."
Invest in skincare
Even if you are planning on undergoing a plastic surgery procedure, you should always take the time to invest in your skin with the right skincare routine. There are plenty of scientifically proven systems out there, and your surgeon can help you find the right one for you.
Be ready for long-term maintenance
Unfortunately, taking care of your appearance isn't just a one-shot deal.
"Women are very used to maintenance, but men don't typically understand this whole piece of it," said Russo. "They see something, they want to do it and then never think about it again. A big part of looking young is maintenance – you have to keep it up."
Don't skip the fillers and toxins
While you may think that fillers and neurotoxins are for women, they are key to keeping your skin looking and feeling young. Both treatments will help keep wrinkles from forming and can help smooth away existing ones.
Check your surgeon's credentials
Even if you feel completely comfortable with your surgeon, it doesn't hurt to double-check their credentials.
"Look for a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, who is experienced in the procedures you are looking for," said Mele. "All members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are board certified and are held to higher standards of conduct by their bylaws. You should check your surgeon's board certifications online with the American Board of Medical Specialties."
The evolution of plastic surgery for men
Although plastic surgery has traditionally been more popular among women, we have been seeing an increased presence of men taking part and better social acceptance of them doing so within the past decade.
With this boost comes the opportunity for new advancements and innovations within the field that better serve the masculine figure. It is exciting to consider where the industry will be in just a few years as this evolution continues to advance.
To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.