Once portrayed as the preserve of women, cosmetic surgery is now an acceptable option for a growing number of men in the UK, with thousands opting to go under the knife in their quest for better looks.
And it’s not just help with things like male breast tissue (‘moobs’) they’re after. With male surgical enhancement no longer carrying the social stigma it once did, they’re now looking more widely at the options – particularly those relating to the face, with procedures like nose jobs, ear correction and eyelid reduction all proving popular.
Consultant plastic surgeon Rajiv Grover, a former president of and spokesperson for the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), says there’s been an increase in the number of men having cosmetic procedures over the last 10 years, with 2,417 men going under the knife last year.
The proportion of men vs women remains the same, however, with men making up roughly 10%, and women accounting for 90% of all procedures carried out.
“What was popular for many years was male breast reduction or ‘moob’ surgery, along with lots of things that were popular with women too, like liposuction,” says Grover.
“But recently we’ve found there’s been a real change – men are more face-focused and less body-focused, whereas women are the opposite.
“Men aren’t looked at with the same scrutiny as women – you see quite a few male celebrities who don’t look like an Adonis, but they’re okay.
The pressure is there for men, but as it’s more face-focused – facial procedures on the neck, nose, jaw etc are the gold standard for them.”
So what are the top cosmetic surgery procedures for men right now? According to BAAPS, these are the five most popular …
1. Rhinoplasty (nose job)
In 2017, 554 men had a rhinoplasty, or ‘nose job’, in the UK, an increase 5% from 2016. A rhinoplasty, which typically costs £5,000-£7,000, can increase or reduce the size of the nose, and change its shape or angle.
Surgery is performed either from inside the nostrils (closed rhinoplasty), or by making a small cut between the nostrils and lifting the skin (open rhinoplasty).
The type of operation will depend on the area of the nose being treated but, for example, if a bump on the bridge of the nose is being operated on, the surgeon removes the bone and cartilage causing the bump, and the nose may then be broken so the remaining pieces of bone can be moved closer together.
To change the length of the nose, the surgeon adjusts and reduces the septum (the bone and cartilage that divides the nasal cavity) to help shrink the tip and reduce overall length. Adjusting the cartilage at the nose tip can also reduce the length.
BAAPS warns there are limits to how much a nose can be altered, and the final result will depend on the size of the nose, the condition of the skin, and a patient’s age.
2. Otoplasty (ear correction)
Meanwhile, some 419 men had otoplasty surgery in the UK last year – down 0.5% from 2016. Otoplasty, which will set you back around £2,500-£3,000, adjusts the shape of the cartilage within the ear to allow the ear to lie closer to the side of the head.
Because the operation is carried out from behind the ears, a small scar is left close to the groove between the ear and the side of the head. The procedure can even be carried out under local anaesthetic.
As we age, reduced elasticity in the skin results in loose skin, which ‘folds in’ the upper eyelids and forms deepening creases in the lower lids.
There’s also slackening of the muscle beneath the skin, allowing fat to protrude and appear baggy. Procedures to improve this are called blepharoplasty, which 403 men had in the UK in 2017, up 25% from 2016.
An upper-eyelid reduction can help improve vision and make people look younger, while lower-eyelid reductions can help reduce wrinkles and puffiness.
These procedures can be carried out under local or general anaesthetic, and the surgeon makes cuts in the creases of the upper lids and just below the lashes in the lower lids, extending them into the crow’s feet at the corner of the eyes.
Extra fat, excess skin and sagging muscle are removed through the cuts, and they are then stitched. Blepharoplasty will typically cost around £4,000-£6,000.
4. Male breast reduction
In 2017, 296 men had breast reduction surgery, down 7% from 2016.
Gynecomastia is the medical term for excess male breast tissue, which is a fairly common condition that usually has no known cause.
There are two main components of the breast – glandular tissue (firm and dense) and fatty tissue (soft), and in gynaecomastia there may be an excess of both. If the enlargement is predominantly fatty, liposuction, where tissue is sucked out through a tube inserted via a tiny incision, is the usual treatment.
If excess glandular tissue is the main problem, it may need to be cut out, leaving a scar around the nipple edge.
Liposuction can be performed at the same time if necessary. Most operations for gynaecomastia are performed under general anaesthesia, or sometimes under local anaesthesia with sedation, with a price-tag of around £2,000-£4,000.
Last year saw a 20% drop in the number of men undergoing liposuction, compared with 2016 figures, with 270 males opting for the procedure.
Liposuction can help improve the contours of parts of the body that some people may struggle to shift weight from, such as the tummy, hips, buttocks, knees, neck and upper arms.