One in 16 people in the United States had plastic surgery last year. From 2000 to 2015, cosmetic enhancement jumped 115 percent — and a big part of that increase came from male patients.
Men underwent 27,456 breast reduction surgeries in 2015, representing 40 percent of the category. That’s a 5 percent increase over the previous year and a 35 percent growth rate since 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Men are requesting more facelifts, eyelid lifts, Botox treatment, and body contouring.
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Breast reduction is just the beginning. Men requested more facelifts, eyelid lifts, Botox, and body contouring, expanding into many categories previously reserved for women. After breast reduction, sculpting six-pack abs, pec implants, and buttock lifts were next in popularity.
Trends about physical looks start in Hollywood, according to Dr. Renato Calabria, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California.
“Society is often disposed to mimic what it sees in Hollywood,” he told LifeZette. “The entertainment industry sets many of the new trends. Hollywood heartthrobs want to keep the competitive edge of youth so their careers remain vibrant and thriving. Since long hours at the gym and good nutrition are not enough after a certain age — they’re increasingly seeking surgical intervention. I would venture to say that the majority of famous actors over age 50 have had a face lift.”
Although in the past people may have disapproved of plastic surgery for men, Dr. Michael Burgdorf, of Music City Plastic Surgery in Nashville, Tennessee, sees an increased acceptance and a decreased stigmatization for men undergoing plastic surgery.
“The increase in corporate competition to look healthy — which translates to young, virile, athletic, and capable — and the increased awareness of an available solution has led more men to seek out plastic surgery,” Burgdorf said. “Another factor is men are being encouraged by their wives to undergo a positive transformation in their lives. Often, the woman doesn’t want to look out of balance with her partner.”
Burgdorf said many men are using plastic surgery to “fix” their midlife crisis. He believes the family conscious father is taking a more positive response to aging today.
“Taking a mistress or blowing a ton of money on a sports car are not nearly as attractive as doing something that can better themselves, and by default, improving the spousal relationship and strengthening the family unit,” he said.
Breast reduction is the fastest growing category for men. Excess breast tissue, or gynecomastia, can occur for many reasons, including fat accumulation during weight gain and body shifts in midlife. Gynecomastia can be fibrous or fatty — but it’s highly embarrassing to men, according to Dr. Jacob Freiman of Miami, Florida.
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“Usually, men develop breasts later in life for benign reasons such as weight gain or excessive estrogen,” he said. “Sometimes it can also happen because of certain medications. Usually, once male breast tissue develops later in life, it will not go away on its own without surgical intervention.”
Some men seek surgery without losing weight — but others lose weight and then need surgery to remove the excess skin or fill loose skin with transplanted fat or implants. The procedures performed include the male mastectomy for the fibrous type, as well as liposuction or other body sculpting method, usually implemented for the fatty type of gynecomastia.
Aaron Smith (not his real name) of Madison, Wisconsin, wore heavy shirts his entire life until he decided to undergo surgery for gynecomastia. He now wishes he had sought out the surgery sooner.
“People are so much more open about everything now,” he said. “When I was a kid, it was a source of ridicule, so I hid it as much as possible. I even wore T-shirts to bed during my marriage. My wife was understanding — bless her.”
“Men feel the pressures women have felt for the last 20 years about appearance,” said one plastic surgeon.
Smith’s wife died several years ago, and dating again at age 52 caused him to rethink what he calls “his body flaws.”
“If you can do something about it, why not? It’s an amazing change.”
Dating is one thing, but older men in the workforce also feel pressured to keep up with their younger counterparts, according to Dr. Philip Miller of Gotham Plastic Surgery in New York City.
“Men feel the pressures women have felt for the last 20 years about appearance,” he said. “In the current working environment, especially in larger cities such as New York and Los Angeles, what you look like in an interview or in the workforce is almost as important as what you know.”
The pressure to compete drives many male patients to Gilbert Lee, M.D., of Changes Plastic Surgery in San Diego, California.
“Some desire a younger appearance to maintain a competitive edge in the workforce,” he told LifeZette. “Others may be back in the dating scene after years of marriage and desire a more youthful look. Women may be the pioneers of aesthetic treatments and cosmetic surgery, but in the past few years, men have been boldly exploring the frontier as well. Based on the latest statistics, anti-aging treatments and cosmetic surgery for men are rising at a stellar rate.”
Pat Barone, MCC, is a professional credentialed coach and author of the Own Every Bite! bodycentric re-education program for mindful and intuitive eating, who helps clients heal food addictions.