Male Plastic Surgery: What Are The Trends?


Beth Longware Duff, Medical Editor

Beth Longware Duff is an experienced writer and reporter whose work on a wide variety of topics has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines. Her health and medical writing credits include nationally distributed videos for the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, and she is the recipient of numerous awards including an American Cancer Society Media Award and a New England Press Association Award for Health Reporting. She holds a degree in Communications from Ithaca College.

March 25 2007

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Men Continue to Gain Ground in Cosmetic Surgery Statistics

Cosmetic plastic surgery, once the almost exclusive domain of the fairer sex, is becoming increasingly popular with men. In 2007, nearly 1.1 million surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures were performed on males in the United States, accounting for 9.4% of all such procedures, according to statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. That figure reflects a 17.4% increase in male plastic surgery over 2006, and a whopping 283% jump in the last decade.

Why are men pursuing plastic surgery in growing numbers? For many, the current tight job market is motivation enough to get a leg up on the younger competition, and they realize that a scalpel or syringe can pare enough years off their face and body to give them that much-needed edge. For others, it comes down to not looking as good as they feel. Exercise and a healthy diet definitely have their benefits, but cosmetic rejuvenation is not one of them.

"I started to look old and tired, and I realized I was in a mid-life crisis and needed to refresh a little bit," recalls John Neves, a Connecticut salon owner who had his first cosmetic surgery, a nose job, when he was 41. Ten years and $160,000 later, he reels off a laundry list of procedures that he says have kept Father Time at bay. "I've had hair transplants, upper and lower eyelifts, a forehead lift, a chin implant, neck liposuction, veneers, and body sculpting," he elaborates. "I have Botox done around my eyes every 6 months, and I've had Sculptra in my nasolabial lines."

About the only surgical procedure Neves nixes outright is a face lift because he doesn't like the way they look on men. "But my surgeon in Manhattan tells me that, little by little, they'll become more able to lift a face with injections," he says, obviously intrigued by the prospect.

Mark Solomon, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon in Bala Cynwyd, PA, treats men ranging from their twenties to their sixties. He says age isn't their only disparity. "The older men tend to be more timid about making the world aware that they've had some work done," he notes. "The younger guys don't have that hang-up. Remember, for the generation that's now in its twenties, cosmetic surgery has been on television for 10 years as just another thing to do."

The number one procedure among Dr. Solomon's male patients is breast reduction to treat gynecomastia, followed by eyelid surgery. Body contouring is popular with the 20s to 40s crowd. Nationwide, the top 5 cosmetic surgical procedures for men last year were liposuction, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty (nose job), breast reduction and hair transplantation. The nonsurgical leaders were Botox® injection, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, Hylaform/Restylane® injections, and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment.

Just as men often come to Dr. Solomon knowing what they're looking for in terms of procedures, Dr. Solomon knows exactly what he's looking for in terms of a patient. Ideally, he says, they should be focused in their goal and realistic in their expectations, medically stable and ready to put up with the discomfort and recovery time that surgery entails. A recent consultation with a 61-year-old gentleman seeking a facelift and eyelid surgery illustrated the surgeon's worst nightmare.

"He was a medical train wreck," recalls Dr. Solomon. "He was on a number of blood pressure medications and diabetic, and he kept asking, ‘What's it going to cost?' My response was, ‘It may cost your life.' That's when the alarm bell went off in his head."

After 23 years as a plastic surgeon, Dr. Solomon knows it's not always a matter of turning away a medically questionable patient. Instead, he helps them manage their conditions and expectations by encouraging them to make the necessary lifestyle changes that will transform themselves into a viable plastic surgery patient.

"I have to teach them how serious it is," Dr. Solomon says. "Some of them will go find another surgeon and either get away with it or not. I'm not interested in either of those two scenarios."