March 25, 2011

AUSTRALIA: Men wage war on breasts - their own

MELBOURNE / The Age / Fitness / March 25, 2011

By Katherine Feeney

More men are undergoing plastic surgery than ever.

Getting a boob job is something that has been long associated with women, but national plastic surgery trends reveal treatment of gynecomastia, or 'man-boobs', is the number one operation performed on local men.

The development comes as the number of men opting for cosmetic surgery increases, reflecting similar findings released in the United States this week. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more men in the US are going under the knife than ever before, with facelifts, ear surgery and soft-tissue fillers the procedures leading the two per cent overall increase.

Compared to 2009, the number of American men seeking breast reductions, or 'man-boob-jobs', in 2010 rose by six per cent.

Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons chief executive Gaye Phillips said while Australia's medical system did not record the same sort of data as the US, the domestic market was in line with the overall increase in male custom.

Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery vice president Craig Layt said while more men were seeking cosmetic surgery, the most popular treatments in Australia differed to the United States.

Attributing the variations to dissimilar social and financial pressures, Dr Layt said most popular male surgeries in Australia were gynecomastial, followed by nose-jobs and upper-eye and brow lifts.

“[Cosmetic surgery] wouldn't have been considered something a 'real man' would do 30 years ago whereas now, it's a perfectly reasonable thing to do,” he said.

“Guys are getting their nose done, their eyes done or using a bit of Botox and they're not worried about what their mates think.”

The cosmetic surgery trends reflect global growth in the male grooming industry, which the Australian Financial Review reports is currently valued at $61.3 billion, expected to rise to $84.9 billion in five years.

As to why male breast reductions were the most common procedure in Australia, Dr Layt said most patients were simply more willing to change “a common physiological problem”.

Dr Layt said an increase in the numbers of men using steroids or presenting with drastic weight-loss scenarios were also key factors.

Meanwhile, Washington based surgeon Stephen Baker said the rise in cosmetic surgical procedures, particularly those affecting men's faces, in the United States was a by-product of ageing baby boomers.

"They want to look good. So when they have the financial means to do it, they are ready to do it now," Dr Baker said.

This reflected a similar attitude in Australian men, Dr Layt said, with some aligning competitiveness in the workforce with a youthful appearance.

“The 20- to 30-year-olds are the ones you'll most likely see coming in for gynecomastial surgery – they'll do noses too,” he said.

“The upper eye lids and brow lifts are your 50- to 60-year-olds; ear surgery – putting ears back – we see that a lot in young children and men in their late teens and early 20s too.

“Botox, laser work, skin care, pigmentation reduction - all stuff that tends to be among men in their late 30s through to their 50s.”

But while the numbers of men getting cosmetic surgery had been growing for some time, Dr Layt said the overwhelming majority of customers were women.

Though dependant on the services offered at each individual practice, the average ratio of male to female business was 80 per cent female to 20 per cent male.

"Men are now addressing some of the same issues that have affected women for some time," he said. "But women still make up the bulk of cosmetic surgery patients."

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