Maybe it’s because I’m in my mid-30s, or maybe it’s because I’m a grooming editor, but more and more, I find myself in plastic surgery Instagram wormholes: I am fascinated by the tightening, the restructuring, the lifting and the tucking, the smoothing and the plumping. I think what I am reacting to—besides wondering suddenly if I need a rhinoplasty, brow lift and jaw implants—is how successful these procedures can be in delivering realistic, often life-changing results. From neck lifts to tummy tucks to chin implants, these procedures are growing in popularity due to advancements in technology. (A lot like hair transplants, too.)
I climbed out of my latest wormhole and asked two tried-and-trusted plastic surgeons about the procedures men are requesting most often these days. (Aside from Botox, that is.) And so, going into 2022, the below list includes the most commonly administered and requested plastic surgery procedures for men, according to Dr. Catherine S. Chang, MD, of Cassileth Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills and Dr. David Shafer, MD, FACS, of Shafer Clinic in New York City. They’re listed in no particular order.
What is a rhinoplasty?
You know it as a nose job: A rhinoplasty can either reconstruct the nose for functional purposes, or for cosmetic ones. It often involves breaking part of the bone away to help reshape the nose.
What Dr. Chang says about rhinoplasties:
“A rhinoplasty is a procedure that you want to be very mindful about not overdoing. Downtime is about one week, and you’ll wear a splint during that time. Once the splint comes off, patients are still very swollen—noses can take up to one year to fully heal; however, most patients look great after about three weeks. One of the newer technologies in rhinoplasty is using a Piezo, which is an ultrasonic way of cutting the bone that helps to minimize bruising when narrowing the nose.”
Chin and Jaw Implants
What are chin and jaw implants?
Chin and jaw implants help make the structure of the face more pronounced and prominent. They’re typically administered through the bottom of the chin, behind the jaw or through incisions inside the mouth. Oftentimes, they are referred to together, simply as “chin implants.”
What Dr. Chang says about chin and jaw implants:
“These implants are extremely common with men since having a strong jawline is highly desirable. Out of all of the procedures, the rise in popularity for chin implants is most influenced by men being made aware of their appearance. Through Zoom, Instagram, taking selfies, et cetera, we’re all beginning to catch ourselves at angles that we might have never seen before. This is particularly true for the chin area since we’re normally not super aware of our side profile. Having a strong chin [or jaw] is often associated with masculinity, so it’s not surprising that so many men are seeking implants. Something I do differently than many other plastic surgeons is that I use 3-D custom implants. I get a CT scan, create a 3-D model of the skeleton and design an implant that perfectly fits the patient. Downtime is about one week and, while patients will be swollen for six months, you’ll begin to see the shape of the implant after two to three weeks.”
Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
What is a tummy tuck?
Often mistaken for liposuction, a tummy tuck targets the loose skin and can help restructure and tighten the abdomen muscles. It is usually more comprehensive than liposuction (which only targets fat removal).
What Dr. Shafer says about tummy tucks:
“Candidates for tummy tuck must abstain from all nicotine products and avoid secondhand smoke for at least six weeks before and after surgery, and refrain from taking aspirin three weeks before and after surgery. Drains may be placed during surgery to prevent fluid collection seromas [tucked under the skin] and in some cases, they are left in place for several weeks following the procedure to speed up healing. Patients will be instructed on how to empty and care for drains. They will also wear a supportive garment, called an abdominal binder, for four to six weeks after surgery. This helps shape the skin, prevent fluid buildup, and provides abdominal support during healing.
“Patients are usually home the next day and can anticipate some bruising and swelling around the abdomen for up to six weeks, which could take up to three months to resolve completely. Most patients will need around two or more weeks of recovery before they can resume their normal activities, but can often return in-person to work after 10 days. Strenuous activities like exercise will need to be avoided for longer. Results are seen immediately and final results are seen after three months and are long-lasting.”
What is the SWAG Procedure?
Essentially, this is a non-surgical, injectable filler that increases the width and girth of the penile shaft. Enhancements to length tend to be more invasive. They gradually decrease over the course of two years, but patients can maintain them in the meantime with supplemental injections
What Dr. Shafer says about SWAG:
“This 20- to 30-minute procedure provides immediate results, but the filler does expand so patients can expect final results after one to two weeks. Patients can expect substantial improvement in girth. I encourage massaging the area where the product is settling, and patients can resume normal [nonsexual] activity right after the treatment. Sexual activity, however, can be resumed after one week. Patients can expect mild to moderate temporary swelling and possible bruising after the procedure. The vast majority of patients report either the same sensitivity or enhanced sensitivity and thicker erections.
“New technology with dermal fillers has allowed a breakthrough in penile enhancement. The same products which are FDA approved to enhance cheeks and lips are used to significantly increase penis girth and moderately increase penis length. Microcannulas offer enhanced safety over multiple sharp needle injections with less chance of bruising and smoother results. Duration of individual results depends on the products used for the treatment, as well as the existing anatomy of the patient. The most popular and longest-lasting hyaluronic acid penis enlargement injection is Juvederm Voluma XC, and it is my favorite for this as it’s the thickest of the injectable gels and lasts the longest—up to two years. Most patients benefit from a series of treatments to progressively enhance results followed by annual maintenance.”
Eyelid Lift (Blepharoplasty)
What is blepharoplasty?
Whether aesthetic or corrective, a blepharoplasty reconstructs the eyelids.
What Dr. Chang says about blepharoplasty:
“This is one of the most common procedures I see among male patients. An upper bleph is pretty straightforward: the procedure takes around 30 to 45 minutes, and the recovery is typically five to seven days. For a lower blepharoplasty, there are two types: fat removal and skin removal. If a patient needs fat removal, I aim to be conservative. Over time, we naturally lose fat in our face, so we don’t remove as much as we used to and instead, focus more on fat repositioning. A lower bleph takes about an hour and recovery is usually one week. I do find the lower eyes tend to bruise more than the upper, so I always make sure my patients are aware of this. That said, a little bit of cover up will conceal mild bruising. In terms of permanence, like all plastic surgery procedures, the results are never permanent as our bodies will continue to naturally age. You may need to re-do the procedure in about 10-15 years.”
What is chest/breast reduction?
Men can experience enlarged or overdeveloped breast tissue, a condition known as gynecomastia, often during hormonal stages of adolescence. Chest or breast reduction aims to restructure the area to appear as if the patient never had it.
What Dr. Shafer says about chest/breast reduction:
“Gynecomastia occurs in almost one-third of men. Liposuction of the area or direct surgical excision is an excellent treatment to reduce the area. There will be some discomfort and swelling after male breast reduction surgery, but this is normal and medication will be prescribed for the pain. Patients can expect swelling, which will subside gradually over a few weeks. Compression garments are recommended to be worn for at least one to two weeks in order to help reduce swelling and support the tissues in their new contours and position. Initial results can be seen almost immediately and the full results of the procedure will be seen after about three months when the swelling should be completely gone. At this point, you will be able to show off your newly contoured chest.”
What is a brow lift?
A brow lift is for anyone who wants to reduce signs of aging around the forehead, or simply achieve a more taut, “awake” look.
What Dr. Shafer says about brow lifts:
“This procedure is great for rejuvenating the upper face and giving the brows and eyes a more rested and awake appearance. There are several types of brow lifts. A full coronal brow lift involves an incision across the top of the head behind the hairline, but smaller mini lifts and endoscopic lifts are possible for the right patients. Sensory nerves at the top of the head are involved, and as a result, temporary itching or numbness is common following the procedure.
“A temporal brow lift involves small incisions at the hairline on either side of the forehead. The technique can yield dramatic improvements in horizontal creases. However, depending upon healing, a scar may be temporarily visible along the hairline. The technique works best for those who wear bangs.
“Brow lifts generally take one hour and only cause mild discomfort, possible temporary swelling, and light bruising. Most patients take several days to a week off of work. Results are apparent immediately and final results are seen four to six weeks as swelling resolves completely. With normal aging, results usually last 10 to 15 years, however, this is not a procedure that people have over and over; usually, one time is enough for this surgery.”
What are dermal fillers?
Dermal fillers add volume and fullness to targeted areas, such as the cheeks or lips. They often account for a loss in fat and in these areas as we age. They are often mistaken for botox, which itself restricts movements by blocking nerve signals to the muscles.
What Dr. Shafer says about dermal fillers:
“Dermal fillers such as Juvederm are the number one treatment for contouring and smoothing the face. This quick office procedure only causes mild discomfort, with local swelling and bruising possible… Results can be seen immediately and improve over several days. Recovery lasts one to two days, and most patients are able to return to their normal activities immediately after treatment. Duration of results spans six to 12 months with collagen or hyaluronic acid, and 12 to 18 months with Radiesse and Voluma.
“To minimize bleeding or bruising at the injection site, patients should not use nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory medications, aspirin, herbal supplements or high doses of vitamin E three weeks prior to a Juvederm injection. The risk of bruising is very low, but every precaution is taken. If a patient does develop a bruise, we offer a complimentary Vbeam laser for our patients which helps a bruise resolve much faster.”
What is a facelift?
With a facelift, the surgeon makes an incision at the top sides of the face, then removes the loose, excess skin. They can also manage fat distribution in the area (or remove fat) during the procedure. Once tissue is reshaped and contoured, the skin is stitched back together at the incision site, resulting in a tauter, defined and “lifted” face.
What Dr. Shafer says about facelifts:
“The longevity of the results a facelift provides is influenced by a variety of factors, such as exposure to the sun, tobacco products, and the patient’s genetic makeup, but it typically spans 10 years with normal aging. For most patients, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime procedure. Recovery is one to three weeks, with exercise allowed after three to four weeks. Patients can expect minimal swelling and possible minor bruising, but discomfort is mild and controlled with over-the-counter or prescription pain medications. Sutures are removed after one week and most patients can resume computer, phone, and other non-strenuous activities after a few days. Facelift procedures are customized to each patient with the goal of restoring a youthful look while still appearing natural. This is the ideal procedure for someone with a full or loose neck, jowls or sagging of their face.”
Neck Lift (Platysmaplasty)
What is a neck lift?
A neck lift removes excess, loose skin and fat (often around the jawline, with incisions near or behind the sideburns), and results in a tighter, smoother appearance.
What Dr. Chang says about neck lifts:
“I find it’s more common for male patients to seek a neck lift versus a facelift. Both younger and older men usually come in wanting work done on their necks, but the older patients tend to convert to a full facelift. In terms of recovery, it takes about two weeks before most patients feel comfortable going out in public, but it can take upwards of six months for all of the swelling to go down. A lot of men express concern about visible stitches, but we’re able to hide those beautifully so it’s almost never an issue. When performing a face or neck lift on men, it’s important to focus on not overdoing it. Being slightly underdone tends to look better and more natural on men, which is often the look they want.”
What is liposuction?
Through suction methods, this procedure removes excess fat tissue (also known as lipid or adipose tissue) underneath the skin.
What Dr. Shafer says about liposuction:
“There is no alternative to liposuction in terms of results for removing fat. Liposuction works by physically sucking fat out of trouble areas. The procedure is often combined with an energy technology such as SmartLipo (a minimally invasive laser) or Bodytite to help tighten the skin as well. Liposuction patients can expect mild discomfort during the first few days of the recovery period, but the results are worth it. You will be able to go home the same day as your liposuction procedure but will need to have someone drive you home. Compression garments are encouraged and will need to be worn during the recovery process to help reduce swelling and help with the contouring process. Generally, recovery takes about three to five days, but anticipate mild swelling for up to four months and possible bruising for up to two weeks. These issues can be managed with medication and lymphatic massage is very helpful. It can take one to two weeks for a majority of these issues to fully subside. Light exercise can be resumed immediately, but strenuous activity and exercise should be avoided for longer.
“Results are obvious immediately, but final results can be seen after four to six months, and results should be lasting with weight management and a healthy lifestyle (maintaining a regular workout routine and clean diet is equally as important after liposuction). Although the fat will not return to the treated areas, if a person gains weight after lipo, other parts of the body can gain weight. For example, if the abdomen and hips were the areas suctioned, the thighs or buttocks may become problem areas if weight is gained after surgery (calories that go in the mouth have to go somewhere). Patients typically report that they do not lose much weight with lipo, but rather lose inches, which results in their clothes fitting better. Liposuction should be viewed as a contouring procedure, not a weight loss procedure.”
What is fat grafting?
With fat grafting, you take fat from one part of the body and redistribute it to other parts of the body. Fat grafting can be used for many types of procedures and areas—lately, it is best known as the procedure behind BBLs, or Brazilian butt lifts, which are popular with women.
What Dr. Chang says about fat grafting:
“I typically do fat grafting in combination with neck lifts and eyelid lifts. It’s a great way to add volume to the face without using filler. The most common areas I perform fat grafting on for men are the cheeks, nasolabial fold and temples. You can sometimes also add a little fat to the chin, but I don’t do that often as I prefer to use a chin implant. Fat grafting has minimal downtime–you can usually go out the next day although you may have some swelling. The procedure takes about 45 minutes and can be done under local anesthetic.”
Buccal Fat Removal
What is buccal fat removal?
This is the opposite of fillers or fat grafting: With buccal fat removal, excess fat is taken out of the face.
What Dr. Chang says about buccal fat removal:
“This procedure is less common in men than women, but I have been doing it more on men lately. It removes the fat right under the cheekbone to help further define the face. It’s great for men who are seeking a more sculpted look. It only takes about 20 minutes, is done under local anesthesia, and there is essentially no downtime as you can be out and about the following day.”