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The Rise in Cosmetic Surgery for Men

Published on: 11 Jan 2017

Mr Debashis Ghosh

NHS Consultant
GMC Number: 4657664

Medically reviewed by a licensed NHS consultant
Last updated: 15/08/2019

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Why is it, that whenever we think of cosmetic surgery, we are quick to assume only women are the first to jump on the cosmetic surgery bandwagon? After all, men can be just as concerned about their appearance as women. It’s an individual concern or desire, an individual choice, which ultimately has no reflection on gender. For too long the expectation has been for men to simply accept their physicality in all its glory and to suffer in silence if they can’t. But don’t despair – it appears that change is on the cards.

A recent report from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has claimed that although men still account for just 9% of the total number of cosmetic operations taking place in the UK, male numbers have nearly doubled since 2005 - with 4,614 men undergoing some form of cosmetic work in 2015. There’s a substantial increase in facial work, such as brow lifts, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty procedures, and even body-sculpting liposuction and male breast reduction.

Photo credit: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

We are witnessing a defiant rise in cosmetic surgery for men and nationwide, attitudes are beginning to alter and modernise. It could be a direct effect of the feminism stronghold that has dominated society over the past few years; a realisation of the importance of equality. It could also be a simple shift in trends. As the fully-bearded, ‘hyper-masculine’ hipster look begins to fall from favour (the inevitable fate of a fad) 2017 could be the year we are met with men more honed and stylish than ever before. An era of unapologetic male beauty is upon us; and rightly so.

To supplement this, the male grooming market is now thought to be worth almost £15 billion and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. In an article published by the Independent(1), Elodie Bohuon (beauty buyer for Selfridges no less) observes: “Men are starting to get more and more knowledgeable about beauty and are paying attention to their looks: hair care is the biggest category, with shaving coming second.” This could be due to celebrities becoming more open about their own grooming rituals, with icons like David Beckham and David Gandy blazing a trail for sculpted, moisturised and proudly perfumed physiques. Terms like ‘manscaping’, ‘bro-tox’ and the ‘Menaissance’ are subsequently becoming main-stream - conveying the look and feel of today’s modern man.

Photo credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock

There’s also the fact that men may now have access to a greater disposable income then previous years would allow. Thus providing an opportunity for men to spend more on what makes them look and feel more confident, without the bank-balance guilt. Plus, with advances in technology and techniques, many cosmetic procedures taking place today are far less invasive and obvious. Meaning cosmetic work doesn’t have to be shrouded in secrecy either - well-suited to maintaining bravado in the boardroom, should you need to.

However, with all this in mind, it is important to note that surgery is by no means a commodity – offered to us as freely as coffee in our local barista bar. Cosmetic surgery for men still comes with the same seriousness and risk of any other and should be thought about considerably before being acted upon. Whether you’re inspired by celebrity culture or the desire to amend your own insecurities once and for all, there is no denying that surgery is life-changing and irreversible. Yes modern day procedures can be subtle, natural and life-affirming – but it is crucial to manage expectation and to understand every single aspect and detail of your procedure, through fully informed research and consultations with specialist providers who are legitimately trained and accredited.

Male Breast Reduction: A Case Study

Photo credit: Gts / Shutterstock

It isn’t just women who struggle with breast issues. Some men will find that one or both breasts may become abnormally large.


Known as gynecomastia the condition can result from a hormone imbalance or from being overweight, which can increase levels of oestrogen, causing breast tissue to grow. Breast reduction surgery is an option for men with this condition; however it is not suitable for men whose large breasts are simply excess fat from being overweight.

The Procedure

Breast reduction surgery is usually carried out under general anesthetic. The operation will take approximately 90 minutes and it is likely you will have to stay in the hospital overnight. There are several techniques the surgeon could use, but generally the operation will involve:

  1. Making a cut (incision) around the nipple.

  2. Using liposuction to suck out any excess fatty tissue.

  3. Extending the cuts and repositioning the nipples (if there is a lot of tissue to remove.)

What to Expect

It’s typical after breast reduction surgery to have:

Most men are simply left with one scar around the nipple, but a large breast reduction operation may also result in a scar that runs down vertically and horizontally across the breast crease.

Photo credit: Lada Hunt/Shutterstock

Possible Side Effects

Breast reduction surgery can occasionally result in problems, including:

Any surgical operation carries a small risk of:


It may take a few weeks to fully recover from an operation of this type, so bear in mind that you may need to book time off work. You should avoid stretching, strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for up to six weeks after the operation. Remember, you can drive again when it’s no longer painful to wear a seatbelt but this may take several weeks.

You will need to wear an elastic garment day and night for a few weeks after the operation, and it may take up to six months to see the full results. The length of time you will need to keep the dressings on will depend on how quickly your wounds heal. After one or two weeks, your stitches will either dissolve or need to be removed at an outpatient clinic.

The Right Fit for You

If you’re looking in England, check the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website for providers that can perform breast reductions for men. All independent clinics and hospitals that provide cosmetic surgery in England must be registered with the CQC. The CQC also publishes inspection reports and performance ratings to help people choose which care is best for them.

Research the surgeon who is going to carry out the operation. All doctors must, as a minimum, be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC.) Check the register to see the doctor’s practice history and fitness to operate. Read more about choosing a cosmetic surgeon.

The Questions to Ask


(1) - http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/mens-grooming-is-now-a-multi-billion-pound-worldwide-industry-a6813196.html