London: Historically, those who underwent plastic/cosmetic surgery were mostly women who wanted to look better and in many ways look younger. However, recently many more men have sought to undergo cosmetic surgery as they too want to find ways to fight against the clock and maintain their youthful appearance. Many men today will go through multiple procedures to stay young; among said procedures are Botox/filler injections, or even a complete head to toe operation that starts with face lifts and hair transplants and extends to liposuction surgeries.
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), in 2015 1.5 million men in the United States had cosmetic surgery; this roughly amounted to 10 per cent of all plastic surgery procedures that took place in the US that year. Moreover, the number of men seeking plastic surgery had tripled since 1997. Men aren’t as embarrassed to seek cosmetic surgery as they used to in the past; many of them are now as keen as most women to improve their outward appearance.
There are many factors behind this recent phenomenon, the first reason is the growing influence of social media as well as the multiple celebrities, male models and influencers who use these social media platforms to normalize male cosmetic surgery.
To find out more about the world of men seeking cosmetic surgery, I spoke to Dr. Ayad Harb in his cosmetic clinic in Harley Street, London. He began by saying: “Beauty is not exclusive to women, which is why we are seeing new advances in the male cosmetic industry.”
He went on to say that there is both a social and personal factor behind this new phenomenon. Socially, men have become more open towards improving their physical appearance and aren’t as conservative or embarrassed to talk about such topics, again social media’s influence can be attributed to this. Moreover, today’s society does not view men who seek these procedures as deviants. On a personal level, men, just like women, have physical insecurities that they wish to improve; this is because feeling better about your appearance will have a positive impact on your confidence.
On the question of whether Westerners are more open to idea of men getting cosmetic surgery then their Arab counterparts the Dr. Hard said: “The increasing number of men who seek cosmetic surgery is noticeable in both Western and Arab countries, it is highly likely that Arab men are getting influenced from the Western media they see every day and social media platforms which encourages them to change something they don’t like about their physical appearance.” Dr. Harb added that: “10 to 15 per cent of all the patients who come to this clinic are men.”
The most popular cosmetic procedures that men undergo are hair transplants and breast reduction surgery for overweight men, which make many of them feel insecure when they go to public places where they take off their shirts, such as public pools. Liposuction on the stomach and the chest area is the second most popular male cosmetic procedure and finally nose jobs, masculinizing or “squaring” jaws, contouring and reducing wrinkles are the third most popular non-surgical procedures that men seek. Most non-surgical procedures for both men and women depend on the use of filler.
Although the facial structure of men and women is identical in terms of muscles and skin layers, men’s skin does not age as fast women’s skin; this is mostly because men’s skin is much thicker than that of women’s. Dr. Harb adds: “Even though we use the same medical material on both men and women, we aim for different results. For women we seek to enhance their feminine features, while for men we seek to maintain their masculine features.”
Undergoing cosmetic procedures has become fashionable, as many men and women are now obsessed with the concept, some to quite disturbing degrees. Dr. Harb went on to tell me that plastic surgeons should be honest with their clients and suggest the best procedures based on their conditions and budgets. Plastic surgeons also need to tell their clients about the potential side effects of certain procedures, firstly because it is a doctor’s duty to protect their patients’ health and secondly to protect their own reputations as reputable cosmetic physicians. For instance, while filler doesn’t pose any health hazards or side effects, Botox can potentially paralyze facial muscles; as such doctors need to mention the possible side effects of the latter.
It is important to note that Dr. Eyad Harb is the first doctor to perform rhinoplasty without surgery and has instead relied on the use of the filler. He performs the same procedure for both sexes by injecting this material into three focal points which results in a cosmetic reshaping of the nose. The only difference is in the intended outcome whereby a woman’s nose tip is lifted to highlight her feminine features, while a man’s nose is kept straight as to better compliment his male facial features.
Dr. Ayad Harb thinks that both women and men share the same fear of getting older and losing their youthful appearance, so it’s only natural for some men to undergo cosmetic procedures. At that moment he smiled and said: “Who wouldn’t want to keep his boyish and wrinkle-free face?”
METHODS OF FIGHTING THE AGING PROCESS
Dr. Harb has cited liposuction, Fractora, radio frequency and BodyTite as alternatives to both surgical and non-surgical procedures. He did warn, however, that these methods do not work for all cases and aren’t as quick as more traditional operations. Rather, they work as a catalyst which enables the skin and skin cells to produce collagen again. Collagen is the protein that maintains the skin’s thickness and flexibility thus making faces look younger. If a client suffers from deep scars or too many wrinkles, then these other methods are not likely to be successful, surgery will then become necessary in such cases.
On beauty lotions and creams, Dr. Ayad had this to say: “We’re exposed to ads for such products on a daily basis, more and more of these ads target men and claim they can help reduce wrinkles and scars. However, these creams are too commercialised and are often ineffective, furthermore one can gain the results advertised simply by moisturising every day”.
Hair transplants have become the procedure that most men seek and Turkey has become the world capital in said operation. Nevertheless, Dr. Harb noted that the procedure’s drawback is that it requires many follow-up sessions; as such many men are either forced to stay in Turkey for some time until the procedure is complete or they leave with an incomplete hair transplant as they go back home to attend to their responsibilities.
Dr. Harb finally noted that the high demand for hair transplants has made the procedure technologically advance at an unprecedented pace. For instance, there are now robots that quickly and carefully remove hair follicles, which doctors then implant into the client’s bald spots, thus making the operation much quicker and more effective.