In Dr. Michael Devlin’s practice at Devlin Cosmetic Surgery in Little Rock, that number has increased by more than 50 percent. The most common surgical procedure he performs for men is gynecomastia surgery, often referred to as male breast reduction.
“Over 28,000 male breast-reduction surgeries were performed in 2016. This now accounts for more than 40 percent of breast reductions performed last year for both male and female patients, according to ASPS,” he says.
“Other common surgical procedures for men include liposuction, facelift, neck lift and eyelid surgery,” says Devlin, adding that when it comes to nonsurgical procedures Botox, chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing are popular.
Dr. Michael Spann of Little Rock Plastic Surgery also performs many breast reductions and liposuction procedures on men. “To address the gynecomastia, I make a small incision around the areola and remove the breast tissue to reshape the chest,” he says. “It takes about an hour to do, and the results are typically permanent. On the liposuction, I’m able to target the stubborn areas of fat through a minimally invasive procedure with permanent results.”
WHY THE INCREASE?
One of the most common causes for the rising popularity of male plastic surgery is men’s perceived need to remain competitive in the job market, says Devlin. “All too often, men feel that if they appear younger and more vital, like their younger counterparts, they can obtain a competitive edge,” he says. “This has driven, in particular, the demand for nonsurgical procedures such as Botox.”
These nonsurgical procedures are common among men between ages 20 to 40, according to Spann. “This group is largely focused on the prevention of the aging process. They want to maintain their youthful appearance as long as possible. I generally recommend laser or other nonsurgical options for this group. Prevention is much easier than restoration.”
As for the increase in neck lifts, Spann notes that “the strong male profile is lost as we age.” Redefining this area can be as simple as a limited-incision lift in the office or more complicated, with a full facelift under anesthesia, he says.
Dr. Lance Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Concierge Medicine and Jolie Vie Aesthetics in Bentonville, adds that men are living longer, and thus, would like to maintain a more youthful image. “Many of them work out several times a week for their health, but they would like to look as good on the outside as they feel on the inside.”
But there’s also the quality-of-life factor, says Hamilton. As people live longer, they’re more likely to lose spouses, whether that’s due to divorce or illness. “They feel the need to seek out a new relationship and want to reduce the signs of aging,” he says.
NOT CREATED EQUALLY
While cosmetic surgery desires and procedures can be shared among men and women, it’s important to note that plastic surgery is not an equal field for men and women.
“It is important to choose a surgeon who is well-trained in the specific nuances of male cosmetic surgery. Attention to detail along with the specialized training required for male cosmetic surgery can help alleviate pitfalls.”
Spann adds that there is a stigma associated with male cosmetic surgery. “As guys, we feel the societal pressure to maintain this ‘macho’ appearance. This means it takes us longer to decide to have surgery and we’re less tolerant of poor outcomes or complications.”
“We’re seeing the barrier to maintaining our looks be lowered,” says Spann, who credits the change to social media as well as the progressive nature of society. “More and more men are working out and spending time investing in their own bodies. Plastic surgery is a natural extension of this.”
Meeting men’s expectations is a challenge, admits Devlin, who notes that in his experience, men are “far more discerning than their female counterparts.”
He says men often come to him with a preconceived notion of what they want without considering whether it’s possible. “My job is to educate them on what is surgically possible. Once this is achieved, I find that their acceptance for the surgical outcome is often better than it is in women. It is not uncommon to spend more time with male patients during the consultation process, but this is imperative to have an outcome that is acceptable to me as well as the patient.”
A challenge Hamilton often deals with is ensuring men understand the treatments available to them. “Most men don’t know any of these treatments exist.”
Hamilton performs many types of laser procedures, as well as Botox treatments. The most common are laser hair removal, platelet-rich plasma injections for hair loss and platelet-rich plasma injections in the joints to treat arthritis pain.
AN UPLIFTING PRACTICE
These doctors agree that both surgical and nonsurgical procedures performed by a plastic surgeon have uplifting effects on men. “The emotional impact of plastic surgery procedures is clearly evident. Men are largely driven by confidence. If we are able to improve that, even just a little, you see a tremendous return on investment,” Spann says.
Not only are these physicians uplifting their male patients (literally and figuratively), they also reap the benefits of their work.
Male breast reduction is one of the most rewarding procedures Devlin performs, he says. “Few men realize that this condition affects over one-third of all adult males. They will usually conceal the condition by wearing bulky shirts and avoiding taking their shirt off. It’s not uncommon for a man to tell me that no one has seen him with his shirt off — including his children. They often become emotional after the surgery as they describe that for the first time in their life, they felt comfortable taking their shirt off at the pool in front of their wife and children,” says Devlin. “This reminds me why I was attracted to this particular field of medicine. My reward is seeing the smiling faces and the tears on my patients’ faces after seeing the transformation that cosmetic surgery has made for them. A lifetime of self-doubt and shame is instantly changed to improved self confidence and a feeling of empowerment.”
Hamilton notes that disease comes in many forms. “Sometimes it comes in the form of medical illness, but many times it is disease with the way one looks. In either case I hope I can help.”
Spann says he couldn’t imagine a different career. “Each and every day is met with the challenge of helping someone achieve their goals. I feel like an old country doctor sometimes, in that I get to know my patients so well and still make house calls. They give me gifts and letters of thanks. In the end, I get to be part of their family. I can’t imagine a more rewarding career.”