The number of cosmetic procedures performed on men has increased more than 325 percent since 1997. In 2015 alone, men received more than one million surgical procedures, which comprises 10 percent of total plastic surgeries performed in the year. Obviously, the surgery has ascended beyond the stigma and has become a common practice for men. Why? Because insecurity doesn’t discriminate. According to the latest data, the most popular cosmetic surgeries for men are liposuction, tummy tucks and, get this, breast reduction.
You see, all men have breast tissue, but roughly 50 to 60 percent of males possess more than others. The medical term for the condition is “gynecomastia,” and it is often caused by an imbalance of testosterone and estrogen in the body. It is in no way dangerous or threatening, but many opt for the surgery for cosmetic reasons, as male breasts are regarded as feminine and can greatly impact a man’s self-esteem. As a result, breast reduction for men has become resoundingly popular, especially among millennials. In 2016, an estimated 27,760 gynecomastia procedures were performed on men, a staggering 36 percent increase since 2010.
According to Dr. Brett Beber, a plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon in Toronto, Canada, the procedure is fairly simple. First, liposuction is done through a small incision on each side of the chest to remove the excess fat between the skin and muscle underneath. This cut will allow for chest contouring to create a flatter, more masculine shape. The glandular tissue is then removed from under the nipple through the same small liposuction incision, or sometimes a second incision is made around part of the areola edge to give access for removal of the glandular tissue.
Beber estimates up to 50 percent of the breast reduction surgeries he performs are on men. These surgeries can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $8,000, depending on what is required and whether insurance will cover any costs. Recovery time is minimal, and most return to work after a few days.
“Guys who come to see me generally request this surgery because they dislike the fullness of their chest,” Beber tells Playboy. “They are successful, confident guys who have often worked hard to try and decrease the chest fullness through exercise and diet, but have found that it just isn’t going away. They may not like how the chest looks in T-shirts or workout shirts, or how dress shirts that fit properly around the waist and arms are too tight in the chest, making the issue more visible.”
Now whether the spike in male cosmetic surgery is due to increased pressure to look like models or the mere fact that men are more comfortable with plastic surgery is anyone’s guess, but Dr. Beber, like others in the profession, largely ascribes the spike to social media and impossible standards set by the internet.
A study published in Psychology of Men & Masculinity surveyed nearly 120,000 men and found that most men are not happy with their weight. In addition, research from the Central YMCA and the Succeed Foundation suggests men may be more insecure about their bodies than women, they’re just less likely to mention it. Men cited beer bellies as the most common insecurity, followed by being called “chubby.” As many as two in 10 men have heard others speak negatively about their man boobs. Men can also be regarded as too thin, 63 percent believe they are too skinny to be considered attractive. The issue has gotten so severe that four in 10 men would give up a year of their life for a charming physique, a percentage much higher than women.
Thanks to the meteoric rise of social media, with its Instagram models and growing assemblage of filters and editing apps, men are being exposed to the high volumes of unrealistic standards that women have been battling for centuries, and, as research has shown, the ramifications are taking effect. While it’s always important to tout self-confidence, for some people that confidence comes from cosmetic surgery. And if getting a breast reduction means one can go shirtless or wear a bro tank with a little less self-doubt, so be it.