Man boobs, plastic surgery's new cash cow

Breast reduction for men keeps getting bigger

Published February 2, 2010 4:03PM (EST)

While the good citizens of the United States have been distracted by dubious online plastic surgery consultations and Heidi Montag’s newly rearranged face, a new cosmetic surgery trend has been gathering steam across the Atlantic: male breast reduction. The BBC reports that for the second year running, breast reduction for men is the fastest growing field for cosmetic surgery in the United Kingdom, with the number of procedures increasing 80 percent from 2008 to 2009. And why this rush to the operating table for, ahem, large-chested dudes? According to one plastic surgeon, you can blame it on GQ: "Many men are feeling the pressure from men's magazines … in addition, they are just realizing that they can get something done about it."

The pressure of unreasonable beauty standards, of course, is old news to women, knee-deep in airbrushed images of insane physiques.  After all, the study also shows that nine out of 10 cosmetic surgeries performed by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons -- great band name, by the way -- were on women. (The No. 1 procedure for ladies? Breast enlargement.) But what this increase really points to is the continuing normalization of cosmetic procedures, for both men and women. Going under the knife as a solution to your bodily woes has become more than unremarkable -- it’s almost expected. In the age of "Extreme Makeover" and Cindy Jackson, it’s important to remember, as Judy Berman so aptly pointed out, that "cosmetic surgery is just that -- cosmetic." These procedures are optional. If you want to straighten your nose or get rid of your man boobs or reduce your chin, then go for it. But, whatever the latest issue of Maxim might proclaim, you don't have to -- and you shouldn’t feel like you do. As for your man boobs? I say keep 'em. 

By Margaret Eby

Margaret Eby has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Salon and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in New York City.

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