Under the Scalpel: Cosmetic Surgery for Men

Written by Ryan Jones

It’s True – today’s soccer dad is far less likely to run into his buddies in the lobby of a cosmetic surgery clinic than on a handball court. Recent statistics, however, indicate the former may not be such a stretch in the future. The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) reports a 325% rise in male cosmetic procedures since 1997, and the trend seems likely to continue. While men currently represent less than 8 percent of the total market, a survey conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) indicates 31 percent of the men interviewed would be extremely likely to consider undergoing a cosmetic procedure.

“Men are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of cosmetic procedures, especially when learning that many techniques are quick and require little downtime,” says Leonard Miller, M.D., a Boston-area cosmetic surgeon and contributing writer to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). He mentions three circumstances he believes are responsible for the increase:

  1. Cultural norms for the ideal male appearance have shifted from a rugged look to one that is more polished.
  2. More men are hoping to gain a competitive edge by looking sharp on the job.
  3. More single men are re-entering the dating scene later in life.   

Johnstuart Guarnieri, M.D., a board certified plastic surgeon at Williamsburg Plastic Surgery, recognizes that there are myriad nuances to consider when performing cosmetic surgery in men, including differences (from females) in skin, fat distribution, muscles, hormonal influences, motivation and other issues related to disposition.

“Men are more hesitant to tell a surgeon what they want and, in my experience, are more afraid of needles,” says Guarnieri. “Psychologically, it’s difficult for men to come in persistently. I think many men would feel better about cosmetic surgery if they could come in and speak with someone candidly first. I always ask patients, male or female, coming in for a cosmetic consultation what I can do for them, rather than making suggestions as to what I think they need done. They leave feeling much more confident.”

ASPS reports that the top five cosmetic surgeries requested for men in 2016 were:  

  1. Nose reshaping Average cost: $5,046.00 What is it? Changes are made to existing nose structure to improve overall appearance in relation to the face. Difference in male clients: Thicker nose skin can affect the procedure and care is taken to maintain the masculine contours of a man’s facial features.
  2. Eyelid surgery Average cost: $3,022.00 What is it? Excess skin and fatty deposits are removed from eyelids to improve appearance and correct the baggy or puffy appearance in eyes that can occur with aging. Difference in male clients: Smaller incision and less tissue is removed during the procedure to avoid a feminization of the eyes while refreshing the overall appearance.
  3. Breast reduction Average cost: $3,525.00 What is it? Liposuction techniques may be used alone or in concert with surgical extraction to remove excess breast tissue and, if necessary, excess skin to create a flatter, more tonedlooking chest. Difference in male clients: Usually performed for the treatment of gynecomastia, a condition characterized by excess tissue accumulation in the male breast area.
  4. Liposuction Average cost: $3,200.00 What is it? Reshapes areas of the physique by liquefying and extracting excess fatty deposits. Many doctors say this is not a good substitute for traditional weight loss, but can help improve definition and tone afterward. Difference in male clients: Most often performed in the abdominal area to remove love handles. Fat deposits can be more difficult to remove in men, but doctors claim new techniques such as abdominal-etching can selectively remove fat to create the illusion of six pack abs.
  5. Facelift Average cost: $7,048.00 What is it? Surgical procedure that reduces wrinkles and other signs of aging in the facial and neck areas. Difference in male clients: Thicker skin affects how procedure is performed and men may bleed more than women after surgery. Facial hair growth affects incision placements and sometimes a few wrinkles are intentionally left on the face to create a more natural look. 

ASPS reports that men overwhelmingly favored Botox injections as their choice of minimally invasive options in 2016.  Laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, chemical peel and soft tissue fillers were also popular.

It’s important to note that the costs listed above reflect only the average fees for the physicians’ time and they work they do.  Additional costs, including fees for equipment, operating room use, anesthesia, assistants, special garments and cosmetic insurance, mean the total cost for these procedures is often much higher.


While cosmetic surgery for both genders has traditionally been done on the hush, the stigma is fading. More people openly admit to having cosmetic surgery procedures, including celebrities like Dwayne Johnson (breast reduction) and Michael Douglas (face and neck surgery). Men, however, may face heftier social backlash than women.

“Surveys of plastic surgeons clearly demonstrate that many men feel the need to hide their surgeries from friends, partners, family and others,” says Dr. Sam Rizk, M.D., F.A.C.S., a Manhattan area facial cosmetic surgeon. “Many surgeons report that men are particularly apt to arrive at appointments by themselves and ask that their treatment be completed as fast as possible.”  

Northshore Aesthetics, an Ill.-based plastic and reconstructive surgery clinic, addresses the issue from the position of male stereotyping: “One of the reasons many men avoid seeing a plastic surgeon is because of society’s expectation that men should be content with themselves, no matter what they look like. A man who isn’t happy with his appearance can be perceived as insecure and sometimes weak.”


Given the current social climate, the cosmetic surgery clinic is not likely to replace the gym or the handball court as a popular gathering spot for men. Statistics, however, indicate a steady incline despite the stigmas. The gap between the 31 percent of men who report they are “extremely likely” to undergo some form of cosmetic surgery and the 8 percent who make up the actual market indicates there is ample potential for growth.  Whether a man – or woman – elects to undergo cosmetic surgery is a personal choice, and the personality and disposition of that individual will likely be the strongest factor in determining the level of outside influence. ASPS reports that satisfaction with the results of cosmetic surgery are congruent with good mental health and realistic expectations, and advises “one of the first steps you can take toward a successful procedure is to become an educated consumer.”

Fact sheets on choosing a surgeon, patient safety, and other options are available at plasticsurgery.org

About the author

Ryan Jones

Ryan is a freelance writer, fitness enthusiast, and twenty-year veteran of integrated pest management. He has given presentations and published articles in the Williamsburg area for over eight years.