Plastic surgeons face wrath of male patients
Sunday 23 August 1998
The men were not avenging their wives. Increasingly, men on both sides of the Atlantic are seeking cosmetic surgery for themselves. Britain is following the trend set in the US, where almost one quarter of cosmetic surgery carried out last year was on men, up by more than 50 per cent since the early Nineties.
In addition to nose jobs, men are requesting facelifts, eyelid surgery, liposuction and pectoral implants to improve "muscle definition." A new suit and haircut is no longer enough. Men wanting a change of image are after something more fundamental and, like women, submitting themselves to the surgeon's scalpel.
As patients, however, they can be more demanding - and dangerous. Professor David Sharpe, consultant plastic surgeon at Bradford Royal Infirmary and president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, asks his male patients to see a psychologist before he will treat them.
"You have to be careful with male rhinoplasties. It has been suggested that the nose is linked with the male sex organ and you interfere with it at your peril. You need a psychological report or you need to get to know the patient well before you do it."
In Bradford, two cosmetic surgeons were killed several years ago by a patient angry at their refusal to give him treatment. Professor Sharpe said he treated only 70 per cent of those who consulted him.
"It's the people who are over-sensitive about their appearance one has to watch. People are much more concerned about their noses than they need to be. We don't notice other people's noses because we rarely look at them in profile. When we talk, we look directly into the eyes."
Kevin Hancock, consultant cosmetic surgeon at the Bupa Murrayfield Hospital, Wirral, said one in 10 of his patients was now a man and treatment often brought major psychological benefits. Some came with their wives to discuss what could be done. Recently, after carrying out breast surgery on two women, their husbands turned up in the consulting room, one wanting a facelift, the other surgery on his eyelids.
Mr Hancock said: "I don't know whether men are becoming more vain. It gives me satisfaction to see my patients after surgery. It is as if their personality has changed as well as their looks. The surgery seems to unlock something."
However, he warned that men are more concerned that their treatment should be socially acceptable, so they are not ribbed down at the pub. Men seeking surgery after redundancy or divorce, a common scenario, should ring alarm bells with the surgeon.
"There's no doubt that after divorce or redundancy, self-confidence takes a knock and while getting a new suit or haircut might help, it is unrealistic to expect cosmetic surgery to turn one's job or relationship fortunes around."
Clive Gale, a hairdresser, said vanity had driven him to seek surgery to straighten his nose, after it was twice broken in accidents. He was operated on by Mr Hancock at a cost of pounds 2,300 and has no regrets.
"I didn't like the face looking back at me in the mirror. I'd wanted the operation ever since I was old enough to be aware of my appearance. My friends thought I was daft, especially as it costs so much. But people wouldn't think twice about spending that on a holiday."
He spent one night in hospital after the surgery and waited two weeks before making his first public appearance with friends at a nightclub. "I was nervous about facing them but everyone thought it was wonderful. I am much happier. It has altered my whole face and my nose is now no longer the focal point."
HOW MUCH IT COSTS
Hips and thighs
(These are typical prices charged by Bupa hospitals. Prices may vary from hospital to hospital and depend on the exact nature of the surgery required.)
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