If you were to believe every press release sent out on the wires, you might think men are flocking to consult cosmetic surgeons in droves. Marketing professionals say men are “changing their attitudes” about plastic surgery and “more men than ever” are seeking professional help in looking and feeling their best.
Truth is, the trends in cosmetic surgery for men are more complex than that. It’s a fact that men seek plastic surgery too—very few surgeons treat just women. But taking in all the hype at face value can be misleading. To get to the real picture, it pays to dig a little deeper.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) just released its 2010 statistics, identifying a 2% rise in male plastic surgery. In fact, the ASPS says men are "Fuel[ing a] Rebound in Plastic Surgery." ASPS statistics show that more men did indeed seek plastic surgery in 2010 over 2009--203,197 more, to be precise. In other words, because men make up a relatively small portion of the total patient pool (about 9%), a 2 point rise in percentage does not equal a huge number, at least not one that seems worthy of being touted as the reason for a post-recession industry rebound.
Similarly, the ASPS notes that "facelifts for men rose 14% in 2010," and that does sound impressive. But again, that percentage seems large because the overall number is small. In fact, just under 11,000 men opted for facelift surgery in 2010, says an ASPS chart.
2009 statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) agree that men account for about 9% of all procedures (their 2010 numbers aren't out yet), and that percentage has grown by 1% in the past year. Looking more closely, you can see that men are taking advantage of newer, less invasive treatments like Botox, and their interest in cosmetic surgery has declined quite a bit over time. Whereas the rate of women seeking cosmetic surgery or treatment increased almost 50% from 1997 to 2009, the rate of men seeking cosmetic procedures actually decreased by about 18%, says the ASAPS.
When men do visit a cosmetic surgeon, what procedures do they choose? How similar are they to women in their appearance concerns?
Sticking with the 2009 ASAPS figures for now, here's an overview:
Liposuction is the most popular cosmetic procedure for men, according to the ASAPS. It’s almost equally as popular for women, ranking #2 behind breast augmentation. But whereas women often concentrate on their lower bodies—hips, thighs and knees—many men seek liposuction for love handles, womanly breasts (gynecomastia—or, more popularly, man boobs or moobs) and even under the chin.
Rhinoplasty is perennially popular with men, coming in with the #2 ranking. For women, rhinoplasty is the sixth most popular procedure.
Interestingly, eyelid surgery, known medically as blepharoplasty, ranks #3 for both men and women. Apparently both sexes have discovered the procedure’s potential for rejuvenation at a relatively modest cost and with a normally short recovery time.
Male breast reduction, whether achieved through liposuction (as mentioned above) or actual removal of breast tissue, is the fourth most popular cosmetic surgery for men. For women, breast reduction is #5.
Finally, hair transplantation comes in as the fifth most sought after procedure for men. This is probably not too startling, but the fact that women also seek it fairly often may surprise you a bit. Hair transplantation for women ranked #16 in popularity, just after lip augmentation and lower body lift, says the ASAPS.
How much do these numbers tell us? That’s hard to say. One obvious trend is that the advent of less invasive treatment options has tipped the scale between non-surgical procedures and actual operations--for both men and women. And, no doubt, the economy has also had an impact on cosmetic surgery numbers which, overall, are still generally flat or on the decline.
Stay tuned, the ASAPS will release its 2010 numbers soon. And we can enjoy a round of headlines and articles all over again.