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Plastic Surgery: Not Just for the Ladies Anymore

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
 
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Plastic Surgery: Not Just for the Ladies Anymore

Diagram of testicle and epididymis (the soft, tube-like structure at the back of the testicle that collects and carries the sperm) Dislike your bumpy nose? Want to reduce your love handles? Once thought to be the terrain only of women, plastic surgery is becoming much more popular among men.

"In the past five to eight years, there's been a real upswing in plastic surgery for men," says Bryan G. Forley, MD, PC, of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Manhattan. "There's less hesitancy now for men to do things for themselves to improve their appearance."

New procedures, less invasive techniques, and quicker recovery times have opened the doors for men like Les, 37, a typical male plastic surgery patient.

"Although I'm a big guy, I'm not necessarily a fat person," he says. "I spend about four evenings a week in the gym, but I'd always had those problem areas—my chest area, lower abs, and love handles."

For Les, the solution was plastic surgery—specifically ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty to remove excess fat from the chest, abs, and waist.

Popular Procedures for Men

Liposuction* is a popular cosmetic procedure for men, according to the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (ASPRS). In 1998, almost 20,000 men had the procedure, which involves vacuuming fat from beneath the surface of the skin. Other common procedures for men are eyelid surgery, nose reshaping, breast reduction, and facelifts.

"As people start to approach middle age, they become more self-conscious about their appearance, especially with today's emphasis on a fit, youthful appearance," says Dr. Forley.

*For more on the risks associated with liposuction and the importance of your surgeon's experience, see The Skinny on Liposuction.

Procedures That Offer More Options

Today's plastic surgeons offer more options than ever before for improving a man's appearance, and many procedures have been streamlined to be less invasive, with quicker recovery times.

Laser surgeries are popular, as well as procedures that don't involve actual surgery, such as removing fat from one part of the body and injecting it into other areas to reduce fine lines.

Botox injections are another option. A weak botulinum toxin is injected into the muscles of the face, resulting in a more relaxed expression with fewer fine lines.

These techniques allow doctors to improve on nature in ways that weren't widely available even a decade ago. Hair implants, penile enhancement to add length and circumference to the penis, calf and pectoral implants, and a form of liposuction known as abdominal sculpting are several areas of plastic surgery which have been specifically designed for men.

Coming Up With the Cash

The cost of plastic surgery varies widely depending on the procedure performed and where you have it done. The ASPRS reports that in 2006, average surgeon's fees ranged from $492 for botox injections, $4856 for a facelift, $2,750 for liposuction, and $5063 for a tummy tuck. Additional fees for anesthesia, hospitalization, and medications can add significantly to the cost. Check with your plastic surgeon's office for current costs.

Your plastic surgeon should provide a detailed accounting of estimated costs prior to surgery. Cosmetic surgery usually is not covered by medical insurance. However, some procedures, such as eyelid surgery or nose reshaping, may be partially covered if determined to be reconstructive or to correct a medical condition. Financing is often available for procedures not covered by insurance.

The Range of Recovery Time

Aside from cost, pain and recovery time are major considerations. Though these depend on the procedure performed and the individual patient, certain procedures and medications help lessen pain and speed healing. A simple facial peel may take only a day or two for you to return to normal activity, while extensive abdominal surgery might require several months before full activity could be resumed.

Differences Between the Sexes

While most plastic surgery procedures are the same for men and women, there are some physiologic differences between the sexes that surgeons must take into consideration. Men have a larger facial blood supply than women, which may result in more bleeding during facial surgery and more initial bruising.

Doctors performing facial surgery on men must consider patterns of beard and hair growth and plan carefully for the location of surgical scars, since most men don't wear makeup that can hide scars. Men generally retain their skin elasticity better as they age and the fat they store is generally firmer, so that liposuction is generally more effective for men than women.

Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

It is essential that your surgeon be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons and be experienced with the procedure you want. Most plastic surgeons offer initial consultations at low or no cost to discuss your goals, your reasons for having surgery, and the expected results. During the consultation, the doctor will explain various options available to achieve the results you want, provide detailed information on how the surgery is done, what to expect during the recovery period, precautions you should take, and financial considerations. Be wary of doctors who make fantastic claims, promise perfection, or fail to completely answer any questions you may have.

Les recommends talking to other patients who have undergone the same procedure you are considering.

"Speaking with many people who were having the same procedure I wanted helped me to understand and know what to expect. It was much better than just getting a doctor's view," he says. "As you know, this is still a business and the doctors want yours; he's not going to tell you all the bad points."

Is It Worth It?

With today's surgical procedures, fewer people feel bound by the old rules of aging. Plastic surgery is expensive, recovery can be long, and the wrong surgeon can put you at risk for serious medical complications. Plastic surgery does offer you the option of keeping your youthful looks, but with exercise, a healthy diet, and limited sun exposure, you may accomplish this goal all by yourself.

RESOURCES:

American Society of Plastic Surgeons
http://www.plasticsurgery.org

Surgical Art Gallery, Cosmetic Surgicentre, Toronto
http://www.psurg.com/men.html

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
http://www.csaps.ca/

The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
http://www.plasticsurgery.ca/

References

Cosmetic.org website. Available at: http://www.cosmetic.org.



Last reviewed January 2008 by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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