Male cosmetic treatments on the rise

In an age where looks have a mounting importance in the social sphere, it is hardly surprising that men are paying more attention to their appearance.

Where cosmetic procedures used to be a female dominated domain, more and more guys are growing tired of accepting the looks they were given – no longer are they happy to settle for those telltale crows feet around their eyes or the pesky love handles they just can’t snuff out despite workouts at the gym. Men are increasingly turning to cosmetic procedures to fix their physical flaws.

The statistics

According to The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, 4,614 plastic surgeries were carried out on men in 2015 alone, with almost 1,000 going under the knife for eyelid surgery. That’s an increase from 4,042 in 2014 and 2,440 10 years ago in 2005. So why is male cosmetic surgery consuming an increasing portion of multi- billion-dollar-a-year industry?

Why men are turning to cosmetic surgery

Ask any man, and you’ll find he admits that when he looks at himself in the mirror, he is as critical as we women are on ourselves and he doesn’t always like what he sees. Even if they are by no means overweight, their bodies respond to exercise in the same way women’s do – selectively. They may still find it difficult to become defined, feel a little bit chunky around the middle, or be self conscious of the signs of age displayed on their faces.

‘I worked out hard, but no matter what I did I couldn’t get rid of the love handles,’ says 36 year-old marketing manager John. ‘I’d simply reached a fitness plateau.’

John turned to the solution women across the world have been opting for, a bit of medical intervention. ‘I had liposuction on my love handles, plus a tummy tuck to reduce the excess skin pooling around my midsection – which my surgeon told me is an increasingly popular procedure among men looking for a way to sculpt away their flab,’ he says.

John isn’t the only one. Surgery goes hand in hand with the rising trend of improving health and fitness – a sign of the shift we’re taking better care of ourselves and want to look as good as we feel.

The old myth about plastic surgery was that it was a lazy-person’s substitute for diet and exercise. Nothing could be further from the truth. The best use of plastic surgery is for it to be part of a healthy lifestyle that is lifelong.

Men remain the minority, only an estimated 10 per cent of cosmetic surgery patients. However the days when a little nip tuck was relegated to Hollywood and those in the public eye are part of the past. Increasingly, surgeons are seeing relatively young, fit men frequent their reception rooms.

For men in their 20s and 30s, body contouring has never been more coveted. The one thing men do have on women is that when we’re compared, men are actually more ideal candidates for liposuction and contouring surgeries because their fat tends to be more localised and less stretched by things such as pregnancy, garnering better results.

Especially with the normalising of discussion about the common problem of the ‘moob’ (that’s man boob to those not in the know – excess breast tissue, which doctors call gynaecomastia). Cameron, a 39 year-old stockbroker, decided to turn to surgery after a two-year battle with the problem he realised was unfixable.

‘Male-breast-reduction surgery made sense, because no matter how hard I worked out or dieted, this was the only way I’d ever get a flat chest.’

Cameron’s doctor explained that men’s problems with their bodies isn’t always the result of poor lifestyle or bad diet. While both can contribute to breast growth and obesity, the issue may simply be genetic. All men have breast tissue and adipose tissue (fat): for many it goes away after puberty and for others it’s barely noticeable. But for some, it’s a problem that only gets worse with age and building of fat and muscle mass. No wonder, then, that breast-reduction surgery is one of the most popular surgical procedures in the books for men, as well as liposuction, rhinoplasty, re-contouring and small eyelifts (according to American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery).

Whether you’re overweight like John or just unhappy with your body shape like Cameron, coming to terms with the body you’ve been given can be a lifelong struggle – and man or woman, we know it never gets easier. So it works. But should you jump on the table and go under the knife to fix your frets? The jury on that one’s still out. Those who’ve done it typically argue that the surgery has changed their life and helped them deal with even bigger issues they may have been facing – plus you can’t underestimate the power of male vanity. However, as with all procedures, it’s important to keep realistic expectations. Surgery involves real wounds and real healing time.

Less invasive cosmetic treatments have also become commonplace for men, who claim one of the reasons they are undergoing procedures is to boost success in business and personal lives. The most common skin problems, including acne and acne scarring, scars and pigmentation, can be successfully treated with topical treatments and laser technology. Hair removal for men is also popular for men who want permanent solutions to unwanted hair.

In a world where there are ever-blurring gender lines, men are understandably adjusting to a cosmetically focused society where being a man has no longer any clear definition. The classic man’s man who relies on his stalwart natural appeal alone is endangered. While most women have already comfortably resigned to this strange new reality, my take on it is – as long as my boyfriend doesn’t start taking up the shelf space in the bathroom, it’s fine by me.