Skip to main content

Men Really Having More Plastic Surgery?

If you haven’t read the OC Register Blog In Your Face, you are missing out.  It is quite possibly the most comprehensive, up-to-date blog and website covering celebrities and plastic surgery in the country.  I strongly encourage you to check it out!  Below is a guest post by the blog’s author, Colin Stewart.


Plastic surgeons are only human, so it’s no wonder that they cheer when a ray of sunshine peeks through a cloudy sky.

The clouds that darkened their professional lives were the slowdown in their business when the recent recession hit.  That gloom was in addition to the long-term decline in patients signing up for traditional surgery as opposed to non-invasive procedures, especially Botox and fillers.

Against that background, many plastic surgeons rejoiced when the annual survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons spotted a one-year uptick in several types of plastic surgery among American men.  Doctors promptly declared a trend: Men are returning to plastic surgery.

Dozens of press releases and online articles echoed that theme.

Unfortunately for most cosmetic doctors, it’s not so. Overall, men are not getting plastic surgery in large numbers.

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 surveys both by the ASPS 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.

You can see the same trend in the tabloids.  Stories there are about actresses’ plastic-surgery adventures, but rarely about actors, whose wrinkles are considered sexy.

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 tiny encouraging portion of the latest ASPS survey.

To accept that a revival of men’s interest in plastic surgery is under way, 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.

In those years, the tally hovered 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 last year 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 the cosmetic medicine columnist for the Orange County Register and author of the “In Your Face” blog about cosmetic medicine, celebrities, regular folks. (


Popular Video