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Plastic surgery may be taking a turn toward the masculine. For many years, the overwhelming majority of cosmetic procedures have been performed on women. That’s still the case, but the number of men walking through the doors of plastic surgeons’ offices throughout North American is on the rise. What’s turning the tide?

Culture & Media

Since the inception of mass media, societal pressures have been put on women, in particular, to strive to fit the mold of ideal beauty. It seems that these days, though, men’s looks are as much the target of ads, TV shows, and magazines.

Commercials for male grooming products, such as the whimsical Old Spice commercials and the provocative ads for Axe products, are pretty obvious in their intentions.

These publications and ads play on male insecurities about physical attractiveness. They also exploit a stereotype of machismo — that men are competitive, from sports to business, and that they’re always aiming to get the girl. Modern media are full of portrayals of desirable men with youthful looks and trim, if not muscular, physiques. It’s no wonder that some of the male media consumers out there who’ve been absorbing these images their whole lives want their own bodies to reach those societal standards.

Aspiration & Familiarity

To that end, more men are opting to have surgical procedures with the goal of enhancing how they look or alleviating signs of aging. A couple of recent articles in Australian newspaper The Age and New Jersey newspaper The Trentonian highlight this trend.

Doctors such as Mahmood Kara, a plastic surgeon in Toronto, say they’ve seen male patients with a number of concerns from head to toe. He has performed numerous rhinoplasty and male breast reduction procedures for men lately, he says. With most of his male patients, there is one concern that has been nagging them and that they feel they need to change to be more attractive.

Other factors play a role, as well. The developed world has an aging population that is remaining more active later in life. Divorce is more common than ever before among older people, who then hope to remarry. Others don’t want their appearance to be a hindrance to career success as people work later in life. Plastic surgery can be a solution.

Cosmetic procedures are also not as taboo as they once were. Celebrities are open about work they’ve had done, and the media often cover new innovations. Familiarity with plastic surgery continues to grow, and so does acceptance. As co-workers, friends, family members, and spouses share news of their cosmetic enhancements, more and more women and men will likely find themselves growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of getting an eye lift, tummy tuck surgery, or BOTOX® injections.

What Does It All Mean?

With this trend, more and more plastic surgeons may begin marketing to men. Manufacturers and clinicians may begin producing more products and procedures designed specifically for enhancing masculinity. Women will probably remain in the majority for the foreseeable future, but men will likely continue to lessen the gap over the coming years.

The Numbers Behind the Trend

Both The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS) compile annual statistics of plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States. Each has slightly different findings, but you can draw conclusions by comparing the reports.

Measuring the Increase

Depending on the source, men account for about 9% to 10% of all cosmetic procedures performed (including non-surgical). The ASAPS recorded an increase in the number of total cosmetic procedures men underwent as more than 106% since 1997. The ASPS showed a 5% increase in the total number of cosmetic procedures performed from 2011 to 2012. The top procedures for men listed by both groups include liposuction, nose surgery, eyelid surgery, and breast reduction.

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