Why Plastic Surgery for Men Is on the Rise

a man smoking a cigarette
Why Plastic Surgery for Men Is on the Rise Michael Stillwell; Getty Images

Talking about celebrities may as well be a national pastime. We dissect everything they wear, eat, say and do with gusto. That’s what they’re there for, right? Lately, however, much of the talk around male celebrities in particular has taken on a new flavor. It’s turned speculative in a way that was previously reserved, for the most part, for the women. Ladies and gentlemen, men have entered the plastic surgery chat.

Playing “did they or didn’t they” with celebrity faces is nothing new, but lately the conversation has centered on men in a way it hasn’t before. Yes, there is an inherent sexism to the years of plastic surgery speculation that women in the public eye have faced, but could the needle be moving more toward the center? Brad Pitt’s refreshed appearance has garnered reams of internet discourse. Ryan Gosling’s seemingly new face at the 2024 Academy Awards almost eclipsed his bring-the-house-down performance. Internet sleuths have spent hours trying to figure out if Ben Affleck has joined the nip-tuck club. Even comedian Will Ferrell isn’t immune to questions about the state of his forehead.

Whether or not these famous men have had plastic surgery isn’t the point – we haven’t even mentioned the cadre of male celebrities like Marc Jacobs, Kanye West and Joe Jonas who have been transparent about their procedures – but if they have, then they’d be right on trend. According to the American Academy of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS), which publishes an annual national survey, cosmetic procedures on men increased 207% between 2019 and 2022. (The results of the 2023 survey have not been published yet). Similarly, the amount of men getting non-invasive procedures like neuromodulators and fillers increased 253% during the same period. It should be noted, however, that even with that drastic increase, men still make up about 6% of all cosmetic surgical procedures performed in the United States.

Those numbers are right in line with what surgeons are reporting in their own practices. “Although there has been a steady increase in male patients in my practice in the last decade, the most notable increase has been in the last five years,” says Jennifer Levine, MD, a double board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. Amir Karam, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in San Diego, CA, has also noticed an increase in male patients seeking out his facial rejuvenation services, but “an even greater overall increase in demand for procedures like face lifts and eye rejuvenation,” most commonly with men in their 50s. Other doctors, like David Shafer, MD, a double board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City, have noticed male patients “getting younger and younger,” which he attributes to an increased openness to seeking treatments and more exposure to online trends and conversations around both surgical and non-invasive procedures.

And while historically men have often sought out body procedures like liposuction and tummy tucks, facial procedures are now outpacing those, according to the AAPS. Among the top most common facial surgeries for men are rhinoplasty (nose jobs) and blepharoplasties (eyelid lifts). Many male patients are just looking for a “more youthful and rested appearance,” according to Dr. Shafer, which could also explain the new kid on the block: the face lift.

It’s no coincidence that much of the speculation around famous mens’ surgical choices lately has focused around face lifts. Not only are many of the targeted men of the age where face lifts are most common, but they’re also becoming increasingly popular among the male-identifying set. So popular that Ramtin Kassir, MD, a triple board-certified plastic surgeon in New York says he performs one or two male face lifts a week.

If you’re wondering why face lifts are suddenly en vogue among men, consider what they’re usually hoping to address with surgery. Issues like “loose skin, particularly after weight loss, which contributes to a tired and aged appearance,” says Dr. Kassir. “Men often have less facial fat than women and desire a more defined look.” Face lifts are also sometimes paired with chin and cheek implants to further define and masculinize the face.

Plus, thanks to innovations in technique, they’ve become harder to spot. “Men are typically looking for a result that is much more subtle than your typical female facelift patients,” says Dr. Levine. Men, it seems, are hyper focused on avoiding any obvious signs of surgery and that can mean the surgeon must strategically place the incisions to avoid interfering with beard growth or higher hairlines, whereas in women they can be hidden more easily. And because of different muscle structures, “a deep plane lift is preferred [on men] to reposition the muscles effectively while being conservative to avoid a pulled appearance,” says Dr. Kassir. All this is to say, face lifts are a complicated procedure, but when performed correctly on a man, can be very hard to clock.

Even if a man isn’t concerned about internet trolls, subtlety is still the most important factor in any procedure they get done, but especially with a face lift. “There’s still some stigma associated with it,” says Dr. Karam, who says his male patients are most concerned with looking like they’ve had work done. “But if you can perform these procedures to make a person look like a younger version of themselves, less tired, more youthful and more energetic, that has a significant positive psychological impact.”

Wanting to feel better about yourself, after all, is not a gendered experience. So is it any surprise that more and more men are starting to seek out surgical and non-invasive solutions the way their female counterparts have for years? Whether or not the aforementioned famous men have had cosmetic surgeries or not isn’t really important. If they – or any man – wants to do it, why shouldn’t they? They’re certainly not the only ones.

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