After a decade of consistent growth, peaking in 2015, the rate of cosmetic surgical procedures in the UK for women and men combined dipped last year, down 5% on 2007. The amount of procedures carried out on men fell by a whopping 47.8%. Yet, undeterred by what is widely perceived to be a ‘blip’, those in the industry overwhelmingly predict that the male market will continue to grow as men turn to cosmetic surgery to look fresh and youthful.
What are the drivers behind this trend, and what are the most popular treatments for men?
Men turn to cosmetic surgery for two reasons: to look good and to stay competitive in the job market.
Greater life expectancy combined with dwindling pension pots mean that many people are continuing to work beyond state pension age. By 2028, both women and men will have to wait until they are 67 to retire.
While discrimination against older women in the workplace is widely acknowledged, the stereotype of the successful older man is often justified by the reality we see around of us of mature men in the top jobs. However, a recent survey by totaljobs found that half of workers aged 45 and over believe that workplaces ‘naturally cater towards younger employees’ and are concerned about their future in the workplace. This sentiment now seems to be prompting men, as well as women, to focus on their appearance as a means of appearing more youthful at work and warding off the younger competition.
Cosmetic doctors report that an increasing number of patients are requesting procedures because they want to raise their chances of professional advancement. ‘They’re simply having more procedures done because they want to maintain their competitiveness in an increasingly ageist workplace,’ Dr Daniel Mills, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, told the Huffington Post website.
Social media, particularly the desire to look their best on an online dating profile, is another key driver for men seeking cosmetic treatments such as botulinum toxin. Indeed, studies repeatedly confirm that physically attractive men are more likely to succeed not only in the workplace but in their romantic lives. ‘I think with social media and men wanting to look good―since honestly a lot of the older men are going out with younger women―they do want to use Botox,’ Dr Paul Nassif (who stars on E’s botched), told the Daily Mail.
So, what are the most popular procedures for men?
Unsurprisingly, non-invasive procedures such as chemical peels, botulinum toxin, dermal fillers and microdermabrasion remain popular with men seeking to look younger and improve their confidence in the workplace, discreetly and with very little downtime. Increased male celebrity openness about cosmetic procedures also helps to normalise interventions. Simon Cowell is famously a fan of botulinum toxin; he was quoted in the Daily Mail complaining that “Maintenance is a bitch” when it comes to keeping himself looking good for the camera.
When it comes to permanent surgical procedures, the most popular amongst men are liposuction (particularly abdominoplasty), nose surgery, eyelid surgery, male breast reduction, ear surgery and hair transplants.
While the general trend has been for less costly non-surgical procedures, former BAAPS president Rajiv Grover reports that male demand for abdominoplasty (tummy tucks) saw a sharp spike. While there was a near 50% drop in the number of men having surgery overall, the year saw a 47% increase in abdominoplasty for men.
A tummy tuck has long been a popular procedure for women following pregnancy, but now a growing number of men are opting for tummy tucks too. The rise in weight loss surgeries is a key factor behind this shift. Indeed, being within a healthy weight range is a pre-requisite for abdominoplasty surgery.
Despite the recent dip, the future for the male cosmetic surgery industry looks bright. A recent report by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that among men who said they were willing to go under the knife, millennials accounted for 92 percent of those affirmative responses. Dr. Fred G. Fedok, the president of the academy behind the study, commented, “The face of plastic surgery, thanks to cultural shifts about plastic surgery and the many advances in minimally invasive technologies, continues to get younger.”
With a new generation of men waiting in the wings, increased pressure on them to look good and shifting cultural attitudes towards male aesthetic procedures, the face of male cosmetic surgery looks set to continue its rapid evolution.