Plastic surgery has certain images associated with it. High school girls in 90s comedy movies with nose job bandages. Donatella Versace’s Botox and facelifts. Kylie Jenner’s lip fillers that sparked the hilarious (and to be fair, potentially dangerous) ‘Kylie challenge’. What do these images have in common? Women. Plastic surgery has long been associated with keeping women’s appearances ‘youthful’ and ‘in-fashion’.
However, plastic surgery as a whole is becoming normalized today, with the total number of procedures growing every year. In 2017, the number of finished surgical and minimally invasive procedures grew 2% from 2016, to about 17.5 million. Men’s plastic surgery is especially seeing a spike in popularity.
In the past, there have been a few notable men who went under the knife. For example, Toby Sheldon, the man who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on procedures meant to make him look as physically similar to Justin Bieber as possible. Like most men who have had multiple procedures done, Sheldon was publicly examined with pity and revulsion, appearing on television shows like My Strange Addiction and Botched. Unfortunately, Sheldon passed away from a drug overdose in August 2015.
Men have shied away from simple, low-profile procedures in the past due to the stigma around extreme stories like that of Sheldon and the femininity associated with cosmetic procedures. Nowadays, surgeons are seeing big changes on this front. Men are especially looking for small, minimally-invasive procedures like fillers in order to make themselves look younger and healthier.
Remember that 2% jump in procedures we mentioned from 2016 to 2017? Men were a huge piece of that. In 2017, almost 100,000 men opted for filler injections, a 99% jump from the year 2000. Botox for men also quadrupled in popularity. And these men aren’t necessarily aiming to get a mug like Bieber. They cite the ‘executive edge’, the need to look better to compete in the workplace. After all, studies have shown that an attractive person has about a 72.3% chance to receive an interview callback, much higher compared to a person perceived as old or unattractive.
Believe it or not, celebrity men have been getting away with subtle procedures for decades. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one of Hollywood’s pinnacles of wrestler-turned-actor. He’s a ‘good boy to bring home to mama’ type — but with muscles. Not everyone knows that The Rock actually had breast reduction-esque liposuction done in the mid-2000s. That’s right, The Rock himself had a ‘moob job’. While gossip mags still make it into a kind of joke or milk its shock-value, others commend The Rock for his honesty about the procedure. When he was bulking up, the natural extra fat around his pectoral muscles was just too much, and he had it liposuctioned out.
With ultra-macho men like The Rock talking openly about his cosmetic procedures, will the men of the late 2010s and 2020s become more comfortable with the idea of plastic surgery? For some men, the confidence boost provided by even a simple procedure can be a life-changing experience. If the stigma around cosmetic care for men can decrease, maybe more men will come forward to share their own experiences and better inform those considering booking a procedure.