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Male Cosmetic Surgery Patients Prefer Improvements by Subtracting Faults

Women get the lion's share (87%) of all the surgical and noninvasive cosmetic procedures in the United States. That's why most plastic surgery advertising is still directed toward them.

Plastic surgery for men, however, is on the rise. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, male cosmetic procedures were up 2% last year. Statistically, men preferred surgical solutions rather than repeated nonsurgical treatments, which bucks the national trend. So although more men are undergoing noninvasive procedures, the number of surgical procedures for men are growing at a faster pace.

Male face lifts increased by 14% from 2009 to 2010, the fastest-growing procedure. Male rhinoplasty (nose reshaping surgery) is still the surgical procedure done most often. Both procedures, one could say, are the surgical equivalents of a man entering a barber shop and saying, "Take a little off the top." In other words, men want to look better, but not drastically different.

These trends highlight the primary difference between what women want and what men want from cosmetic surgery. The most popular surgical procedure for women (breast augmentation) helps women gain self-esteem by addition. Men, on the other hand, tend to favor more subtle procedures that erase their perceived faults, thus gaining self-esteem through subtraction.

Face lifts, rhinoplasty, otoplasty (ear surgery), and liposuction--all popular plastic surgery procedures for men--remove either wrinkles, bumps or fat from the male body. Furthermore, the only cosmetic procedure especially for men, a surgical procedure to correct gynecomastia or enlarged male breasts, also improves by subtraction.

It's no surprise, therefore, that men want procedures with hidden incision points, minimal scarring and results that elicit a response of: "Have you lost weight?" instead of a response of: "Is that your real nose?" Men's desire for subtlety has even led plastic surgeons to develop variations on common procedures. For instance, a man's face lift is handled quite differently from a woman's, for more subtle and masculine results.

Cosmetic surgery for men continues to grow and gain acceptance. It's not about economics; it's not about class distinctions; it's about self-esteem. As long as plastic surgery solutions remain safe, affordable, and effective, men will continue to "take a little off the top."

From The Cosmetic Surgery Center of Maryland

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