Cosmetic surgery and other aesthetic procedures are often associated primarily with female patients. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), women have undergone the vast majority, around 92%, of recent cosmetic procedures performed in the UK. However, a number of media outlets, including The Guardian, are also reporting that male demand for such procedures is on the rise in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The growth in virtual meetings is thought to be a key factor behind the increased interest in cosmetic procedures. We touched on this in our article Cosmetic surgery: Covid-19 and beyond which dealt with the predicted rise in cosmetic surgery due to the pandemic. Remote meetings mean that we are spending more time on camera than ever before, and starting to notice perceived flaws we might previously have ignored.
But does this so-called ‘Zoom effect’ impact men in particular and, if so, why? It may be that social media, and the rise in male ‘influencers’, has made it more acceptable for men to express concern about their appearance whereas, in the past, this was seen as a more feminine issue. Age may also be a factor, as cosmetic procedures are no longer seen as solely for older people. It has been suggested in the media that reality TV shows such as Love Island have driven an increased interest in cosmetic treatments among the 18 to 30 year old age group. Whatever the reason, cosmetic procedures are becoming less stigmatised and more mainstream among younger people, and men in particular may therefore feel more able to talk openly about these topics than in previous generations.
The BAAPS reports that the most popular procedures for men are currently rhinoplasty (nose surgery), blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and otoplasty (ear correction), all of which are visible during virtual meetings where usually only the face and neck are seen. However, other procedures, such as liposuction (fat removal) and brachioplasty (upper arm lift) are also listed as rising among men. The BAAPS did not report any overall rise in cosmetic surgery for men between 2019 and 2020, although this may be because for much of 2020 non-essential surgeries were delayed due to the pandemic. There may also be a correlation between this and the use of non-surgical options instead, such as Botox and fillers. Such procedures are reported to be increasing significantly among men. The longer-term effects of the pandemic on this area are, as yet, unknown.
Victoria Johnson, an associate in Penningtons Manches Cooper’s clinical negligence team, said: “There are all sorts of personal reasons why someone of any gender identity might be interested in undergoing a cosmetic procedure. In the past there has been more of a stigma attached to cosmetic procedures, perhaps especially for men, but this is very unhelpful if patients are then not comfortable seeking advice fully beforehand, or speaking up afterwards on the rare occasions when things go wrong.
“No surgery is ever completely without risk nor should any medical procedure be taken lightly without the patient having a proper discussion and gaining a full understanding of what they are undergoing, and why, beforehand. The more we feel able to speak openly about these topics, the more likely it is that we are able to make informed decisions for the right reasons.”