Men Are NOT NOT NOT Swarming Into Plastic Surgeons' Offices

Colin Stewart on 1 Jun 2011 at 9:00am

American males have a message for plastic surgeons: Been there. Done that.

Nose jobs for men are down 45 percent from their peak nine years ago, according to one survey, down 60 percent according to another.

Eyelid surgery for men? Same story.

Facelifts for men? Down about 27 percent from their peak in the last decade, according to both surveys, which are conducted annually by two similar medical organizations – the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Men traditionally are much less interested in plastic surgery than women are, by roughly a 1-to-10 ratio.  Last year, of 289,000 liposuction operations to remove fat, only about 13 percent were performed on men, the ASAPS says. The imbalance is even greater when it comes to wrinkles. Of the 5.4 million Botox injections last year, about 6 percent were for men.

male cosmetic surgery down since 2000  male plastic surgery is not on the rise

Cosmetic doctors wish this weren't so. If men suddenly developed the same body-image worries that women have, the offices of plastic surgeons would be booming.

The actual boom that's under way is in non-invasive treatments such as Botox and injectable fillers for women and, less so, for men. It's not a boom that's helpful to knife-wielding plastic surgeons unless they have adapted to the new world of injections.

But the power of wishful thinking is great enough that doctors overreacted to the portion of this year's ASPS survey that showed a one-year uptick in several types of plastic surgery among American men.  Doctors promptly declared a trend: Men are returning to plastic surgery.

Unfortunately for most cosmetic doctors, it's not so. Overall, men are NOT NOT NOT showing up in their offices in large numbers.

male surgery is downPerhaps the previous sentence should actually contain the word "NOT" 28 times, That's the number of recent articles a Google News search turned up for "men plastic surgery," all claiming that men are getting more plastic surgery.

To accept that claim as true, you have to believe the ASPS is right to trumpet its survey result showing a 2 percent increase in plastic surgery among men last year, although its survey has a 3.8 percent margin of error.

You'll also need to dismiss the conclusions of the ASAPS survey, which found an 11 percent drop for men's surgical procedures during the same period from 2009 to 2010.

And definitely ignore the number of facelifts that men got in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008 – between 10,000 and 11,000 a year.  The number dropped to about 9,600 facelifts two years ago, then bounced back up to 10,900 last year, says the ASPS.

That 14 percent one-year increase led the ASPS to assert in a press release, "Baby boomers who are now reaching retirement age are the new face of the male plastic surgery trend. They want to look good. So when they have the financial means to do it, they are ready to do it now."

One article about the survey results stated, "Don't be surprised if you catch a man flipping through an issue of 'Men's Fitness' and wiping away tears at the same time. As it turns out, impossible beauty standards have become equal opportunity offenders."

Another article said that men "are getting more comfortable with the idea that a little cosmetic help can go a long way."

For some men that's true. As a result, some plastic surgeons have started to see more male patients.

But for plastic surgeons in general, it's a fairy tale.

Colin Stewart is a columnist for the Orange County Register and author of its "In Your Face" blog about cosmetic medicine, celebrities, and regular people.

male facelift before and after photos

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