The Big Boom in Plastic Surgery for Men
Cosmetic procedures, plastic surgery for men increase along with self-esteem.
The struggle is real. They don’t like the bags under their eyes or their receding hairlines. They’ve lost weight but now hate the resulting man boobs or flabby stomachs or batwing underarms. They love how their wives look after they’ve had cosmetic work done and want the same for themselves. They’re divorced and want to be as attractive as possible to date again. They want to remain a vital player in an ever-increasing competitive job market.
From breast reduction to hair restoration, from liposuction to chemical peels, from neck lifts to tummy tucks, men in Kansas City are turning more frequently to plastic surgeons to look and feel their best.
According to the 2016 American Society of Plastic Surgeons statistics report, men throughout the country last year underwent 8 percent of all cosmetic procedures, a total of 1.3 million, and a 3 percent increase over 2015 figures. Almost 290,500 men nationwide had cosmetic surgical procedures last year, everything from invasive surgery like nose reshaping to minimally invasive procedures like Botox injections, which saw a 376 percent increase from 2000.
“If you went back 20 years, the only people having plastic surgery were women,” says Dr. Craig Schwartz of Premier Vein and Body by Schwartz in Leawood. “But now, more and more men are starting to do plastic surgery-type things. They’re the fastest-growing segment of the population coming into cosmetic practices.”
Dr. Sheryl Young, a plastic surgeon with Associated Plastic Surgeons in Leawood, tells men and women the same thing when they come in to see her.
“What happens is people look in the mirror and then notice things that don’t reflect their inner beauty or inner age, and that’s when they look to change those things,” she says. “Patients will come in and say, ‘Tell me what I need to do.’ And I’ll say, ‘Tell me what you think you need to do, because it’s not at all about me. It’s about you feeling good about yourself.’”
Hal Samuels didn’t like the heavy bags under his eyes and decided to have them removed about 1 and a half years ago by Overland Park plastic surgeon Dr. Edwin Cortez. The in-office procedure was a breeze that he highly recommends. Now, at 64, the management consultant from Leawood says he looks five to 10 years younger.
“I had a lot of fatty pockets, which made me look like a raccoon,” Samuels says. “You hate to get any kind of surgery, but I thought I would look better. The healing process was a couple of weeks, then three to six months for everything to go back the way it was supposed to be, and it got better every month. It was a great procedure.”
Neal Paul, 68, formerly of Overland Park who moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., last year, had hair restoration done by local plastic surgeon Dr. Kenneth Buchwach. He’s extremely pleased with the results.
“I was concerned about my appearance and thought it would give me more confidence, a more youthful appearance, more of what I wanted to look like rather than having a receding hairline or absence of hair,” Paul says of his procedures, the last of which was in 2013. “I always think it’s a good idea to invest in yourself. People will paint their house or repair the dents in their car, but when it comes to your body, you live in that 24 hours a day, so why not? I swim. I golf. I drive with the top down all the time. You don’t have to worry about anything. This is your own hair.”
Cortez believes the numbers of men wanting plastic surgery will only continue to grow, with socioeconomic factors being a top reason.
“People want to retain their jobs, so they want to keep looking good. Self-esteem issues are important,” Cortez says, adding that several factors have increased men’s awareness of cosmetic procedures. It all begins with skin care.
“Skin care in the last five to eight years has really improved in many, many ways,” he says. “People used to think about getting skin care at the drug store or at a department store. But more people are going to physicians for advice, or at least I hope they do.”
Photo damage, or sun damage, is a huge factor with men, Cortez says, particularly golfers, and can cause premature aging; brown spots; lines; and dull, leathery skin. Concern with brown spots on his face initially brought Samuels in to see Cortez about five years ago. He receives chemical peels to ward them off and keeps up with a skin-care regimen.
“The same things that cause photo damage also cause skin cancer and pre-skin cancer,” Cortez explains. “So a lot of men will come in, their wives will drive them here, and the wives will say, ‘He’s got these little things on him, and we’re not sure if they’re pre-skin cancers.’ So they’ll come in and we’ll start treating them for that and then they’ll want to get on a basic skin-care program. There’s a lot of teaching involved in that, but once they get understand it, they do well with it.”
Brow, forehead and neck lifts are also requested by men, as are facelifts. “When they say today’s 70 looks like 50, it’s kind of true because people are taking better care of themselves,” Cortez says.
Buchwach says hair restoration has come a long way, with procedures requiring no bandages and patients able to go to work the next day. The typical costs are between $5,000 and $9,000.
“Two-thirds to 70 percent of my patients I do once, and a third I’ll do more than once,” Buchwach says. “When you do someone more than once, you’re not correcting something. You’re adding more hair. If you have a hair transplant, you get to look in the mirror every single day and it looks great.”
Young says new technology called Thermi, a radio frequency skin-tightening device, is becoming more in demand with men, who use it particularly around the neck area.
“It is a nice way to tighten the skin without having too many scars,” she says. “That’s really the benefit of it, but of course you’re not going to get the results that you get with a facelift. It’s not going to be quite as dramatic, but sometimes you don’t need dramatic.”
Sometimes, you just want to be the best you can be.
“It’s about you feeling good so you get out there in the world,” Young says.
7 out of 10 people have considered having cosmetic surgery. For men, some of the top “maintenance” surgeries are:
The Career Saver - Eyelid rejuvenation. In the youth-centric corporate environment, no man wants to give off a grandpa vibe. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery says drooping upper eyelids or bags under the eyes are enemy No. 1 in the fight against aging out of the board room. Plastic surgeons call restoring the “upper eyes to a crisp appearance and eliminating under-eye baggage to be game-changers for men entering the AARP-adjacent years.”
Bye-Bye, Dad Bod - Liposuction has become the most popular plastic surgery for men. The most dad-centric target areas for lipo according to the ASAPS are “shaping the abdominal area as well as reducing the flanks to provide a sleeker frame.”
Just Say No to the Man Boob - Gynecomastia surgery. What was once a surgery that no guy ever talked about is now becoming one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures for men. Male breast reduction for the treatment of gynecomastia rose by 26 percent last year alone, and by a total of 173 percent since the ‘90s.
Male breast-reduction surgery provides confidence
If he could give men with enlarged breasts one piece of advice, he would say: don’t wait to do something about it if they hate the way they look and feel.
Alex, 28, who asked that his last name not be used, suffered for years with the condition, called gynecomastia. He couldn’t buy the shirts he wanted. He couldn’t go to the pool for fear of being stared at. He hated going to the gym.
So in May 2017, Alex, a social worker from Olathe, opted to have breast-reduction surgery. Now, he has a flat, masculine-looking chest.
“The main reason I did it was because of how much it affected my self-image,” he says. “The nature of that particular condition is such that it really does affect a man’s confidence. It extends into multiple facets of life. I struggled with just looking at myself in the mirror. So I decided to get the surgery after I realized that my quality of life would be better.”
Gynecomastia is common in men of any age, says information provided by Associated Plastic Surgeons, where Alex’s doctor, Jon E. Rast works. It can be the result of hormonal changes, hereditary conditions, disease, certain drugs or weight loss. In his case, Alex credits hormonal imbalance as the culprit.
“I didn’t really have a severe case,” he says. “There are some men who unfortunately have breasts that don’t look that distinguishable from a woman’s, and those are a lot more serious procedures. Mine was just the removal of the breast tissue and some liposuction in the chest area to get the necessary contour following excision of the glands.”
The surgery, he says, was not very painful but required wearing a compression vest for a while. He says he was fortunate that his health insurance paid for most of it, requiring him to only pay about $1,700 in out-of-pocket costs. Most health insurance companies view the surgery as cosmetic and don’t cover it.
“They need to consider the emotional impact this has on person because it really does affect people in a lot of different ways,” Alex says, adding that to him, the condition was a deformity that needed to be corrected for his mental well-being.
“I lived in torment for probably 15 years and just thought it was just something that I had to accept about myself,” he says. “Then after some research, I found Dr. Rast, and I ended up really having an amazing experience overall.”