Historically speaking, the majority of plastic surgery patients are women. But the number of men interested in undergoing cosmetic procedures is surging — and creating a new trend in plastic surgery that's changing the landscape.
"The taboo is fading," Darren Smith, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City, tells Allure. "Men are increasingly concerned with their appearance, and it is becoming more acceptable for them to say so and do something about it."
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the total number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed among men was 1.2 million in 2015 — that's just under 10 percent of the total number of cosmetic surgical procedures, but more than triple the number of men going under the knife in 1997, when ASAPS first began its annual statistic reports.
The number of men considering plastic surgery is on the rise, too, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). In a survey conducted last June, 31 percent of men said they were "extremely likely" to consider a cosmetic procedure. Slightly less than half said they would want to have a treatment to feel more confident, while a quarter said they wanted to "look younger" to stay competitive in their careers.
"I think this has likely been fueled by social media and the volume of selfies people are taking," John Paul Tutela, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New Jersey, tells Allure. The quest for "youthfulness" also factors into increasing interest in male plastic surgery — especially as employers increasingly value young, fresh candidates, he adds.
Welcome to The Club House
Because of the under-the-radar interest in men vying for aesthetic enhancements, plastic surgeons have begun to open centers solely for men who want plastic surgery procedures — and to not be seen by women during treatment. These centers also promise expert care from surgeons, specifically trained in working with male versus female anatomy.
"While many procedures have general overlap between men and women, the details of the procedures often dramatically diverge between the [sexes]," explains Smith. "The goal of rhinoplasty, for example, is to improve the form and function of the nose regardless of the gender of the patient. The maneuvers necessary to achieve a strong but refined masculine nose, however, differ greatly from those performed to achieve a beautiful and balanced female nose. Men should make sure they are choosing a plastic surgeon that has experience performing procedures for men."
The same can be said of injectables. "Most men require larger doses of Botox to get the same effect as women, as their muscles are generally larger," Norman Rowe, a board-certified surgeon in New York City, tells Allure. "Since they have unique needs, men require a dedicated facility to address those needs."
The trend has likely been fueled by social media and the volume of selfies people are taking.
Enter spaces, like The Club House, which Rowe opened late last year in New York City offering a variety of procedures targeted to men — such as "Brotox" and penile enhancements — to about 350 male patients a month. The center also offers chemical peels, injectables, and liposuction.
Rowe's practice has always had a significant male population — about 20 percent as compared to the national average of 7 percent, he says. "I noticed that some of the men were uncomfortable seated in the waiting room with women waiting to be seen or even discussing their procedures with the receptionist who is female," says Rowe. That was the impetus to open up The Club House, which offers men a place where they can say, "'It's OK to want to look your best.' No judgment. No stigma."
What Men Want
The most popular plastic surgery procedures for men are liposuction, eye-lift surgery, breast reduction, tummy tucks, and face-lifts, according to 2017 statistics from ASAPS that were released earlier this year. Which isn't all that different from the top-recorded cosmetic surgical procedures for women: breast augmentation, liposuction, breast-lift, tummy tuck, and eyelid surgery.
Thirty-one percent of men said they were "extremely likely" to consider a cosmetic procedure.
Stefan Toic, a 29-year-old model and actor, underwent a male breast reduction at Greenberg Cosmetic Surgery last November. "I tried everything to take care of my problem areas for years, worked out, ate healthily — but nothing worked. Cosmetic surgery was my ultimate decision and I am so pleased with my results," he tells Allure. "But I did get a ton of backlash — some friends literally laughed at the idea," he says. "No one ever heard of a man doing that, only a woman. Breast surgery for a woman is commonplace — men, not so much."
More non-invasive procedures, such as injectables, are also increasing among men — but even those can be stigmatized. "I didn't want to look like I had work done to my face," John Powell, a 36-year-old patient of Tutela's who's been receiving Botox treatments for two years, tells Allure. "But my college friend saw me for the first time and she was amazed at the results. Now she's a Botox user as well."
The quest for 'youthfulness' also factors into increasing interest in male plastic surgery — especially as employers increasingly value young, fresh candidates.
Marom Unger, a 35-year-old patient of Rowe's who receives regular Botox injections to stop excess sweating, says the discomfort around walking into a plastic surgeon's office as a man is real. "It has taken me a few years to realize that I can openly feel free to speak about the procedure. I've come to terms that if something can help me and help others it should be shared and talked about," he tells Allure. "Originally, I was very uncomfortable just being in a waiting area in a plastic surgeon's office. I always felt out of place and had this feeling of judgment and insecurity. I think The Club House will ease patients' minds to know other men have the same problems they do."
While Rowe says men still face a stigma (the same "stigma," we should note, that anyone considering plastic surgery often faces), but "every day that wall is being chipped away."
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