Pressure to Look Young May Be Sending More Men to Plastic Surgeons

MONDAY March 21, 2011 -- More American men seem to be lining up for facelifts, Botox injections, nose jobs and liposuction than ever before.

A new report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons shows that the number of cosmetic procedures among men in the United States increased by 2 percent last year, compared with 2009. Men underwent more than 1.1 million cosmetic procedures, including both minimally invasive and surgical procedures, according to the report.

"Men are paying more attention to their appearance," said Dr. Phillip Haeck, the society's president.

However, the reasons that more men are having cosmetic procedures vary. "It all depends on the category," he said.

Breast reductions, for instance, increased 6 percent. "That is driven by the fact that there is more awareness," Haeck said. "I call this guys' dirty little secret."

"They are embarrassed by it," he said. "They are interested in not letting anyone know that they have had this operation, but they are thrilled afterward. They can go out to the pool and not be embarrassed by the fact that they had what would be a woman's C cup."

Most men who undergo breast reduction, Haeck said, are younger than 30. "For them it's a lot of money, but they are tired of being embarrassed by it," he said.

On the other hand, the increase in facelifts is largely driven by men in their 50s and 60s, Haeck said.

"That's the leading edge of the baby boomers," he said. "These are really fit people who have paid a lot of attention to keeping their bodies in shape." But, he said, they're getting a "turkey neck," which is something exercise won't get rid of.

"This generation has paid a lot of attention to how they look, and they don't want to grow old gracefully," he said.

The pressure to look young apparently affects other men, too -- especially those looking for work.

Haeck said that men have told him: "You've got to do something to help me because I need a job and I'm afraid I'm going to lose out because people are going to think I look too old."

"That's a recurring theme for guys who want to change jobs or who are out of work," he said.

In addition, Haeck said, he's noticed that women who've had cosmetic surgery often urge their husbands to have it as well.

According to the society's statistics, facelifts increased by 14 percent, ear surgeries by 11 percent, Botox injections by 9 percent, liposuction treatments by 7 percent, breast reductions by 6 percent and eyelid surgery and dermabrasion by 4 percent each from 2009 to 2010.

Some procedures, though, were done less often, though they remain among the most popular for men. The number of nose reshapings declined by 4 percent, chemical peels by 3 percent and microdermabrasion by 10 percent, according to the report.

Dr. Seth R. Thaller, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, agreed that more men are getting cosmetic procedures to offset the effects of aging.

"They are not asking to look 25 or 30, they just want to look a little bit better," he said.

And Thaller said that he, too, is seeing more breast reductions among men who are embarrassed by their large breasts. "We are not only seeing it in adults, but we see it in teenagers," he said.

Cosmetic procedures are usually not covered by insurance -- and they're not inexpensive, Thaller said. "But, can you put a price on quality of life and feeling good about yourself?" he asked.

Haeck said that a facelift costs, on average, $10,000 or more and that doctor's fees alone for breast reduction average $3,013 and $2,884 for liposuction. Physician fees and hospital charges vary across the country, he noted.

Minimally invasive procedures do cost less. For example, Botox injections average about $375, he said, and microdermabrasion usually is less than $200.

Though some men go back for additional procedures after undergoing one, Haeck said, women still make up the majority of those who have cosmetic surgery. For example, Haeck's practice is 92 percent women, he said.

According to the report, the most popular surgical procedures for men are nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, liposuction, breast reduction and hair transplantation.

Botox treatments top the most-popular list of minimally invasive procedures, followed by laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, chemical peel and soft tissue fillers.

More information

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has more on types of cosmetic procedures.

Posted: March 2011


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