Why Plastic Surgery Is Not a Freak Show

Let’s be honest, some people in today’s society attach stigmas to plastic surgery – some may be good but others can be scathing. Everyone has an opinion on just about everything these days and I find myself still being disappointed by the negative comments I read on cosmetic plastic surgery articles. In my over 22 years of plastic surgery experience, the main motivator that pushes me to do better and work harder is the positive way plastic surgery can change lives. It’s the giant smile on a mother of three’s face when she expresses she never thought she’d see her youthful body again, the teenager who is excited to be able to swim with his friends without feeling embarrassed by his male breasts, and the tears of joy from a young woman in her 20s who had stopped looking at herself in the mirror because her nose was all she could see – it’s for all of them, and those to come that I do it. So when I see such judgment being directed towards those that choose plastic surgery because they want nothing more than to lead a happy, active lifestyle, I feel the need to speak up. Even though certain tabloids and media outlets love to cover the most bizarre and often over the top, one in a million fanatical cases, plastic surgery is not a freak show.

Why Plastic Surgery Is Not a Freak ShowFor many people, plastic surgery is the only way to help reduce functional body issues some active men and women face on a daily basis. I saw an article over the past few months that claimed more women were electing to have labiaplasty (a procedure that reduces the folds of skin surrounding the vulva, called labia majora and labia minora) because they weren’t happy with the way they looked in yoga pants. That type of motivation is purely cosmetic and not exactly a reason that I would have ever considered before reading that article, but for the aspiring dancer who can barely move without having extreme discomfort due to chafing or the teenager whose period causes incapacitating labial swelling and pain, this type of procedure is life changing.

Our bodies are not symmetrical and many of us have quirks that make each of us unique. It’s when day-to-day living is a physical struggle or when a person’s health is at risk that plastic surgery becomes the type of treatment that is most effective. Men who have gynecomastia, the medical condition where they have oversized male breasts, can cause an immense amount of insecurities that keep them hiding inside. Exercise is vital for both brain function and nourishing the body so we can perform at our best. Women with overly large breasts also find themselves in a similar boat in regards to health concerns. Large breasts can contribute to chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain, leaving it virtually impossible to properly exercise without experiencing discomfort. Instead of suffering day in and day out, these types of cases look to breast reduction (for women) and male breast reduction to alleviate the excess fatty tissue and skin that make up their once pendulous and extremely heavy breasts.

The thigh gap concept was also another “trend” I saw that got a lot of attention but also added some negative opinions of body contouring. Instead of certain body contouring procedures being accredited for helping patients with what I like to call “friction syndrome” (like when the inner thigh rubs together constantly to the point of causing clothes to feel uncomfortable, chafing, and pain) that interferes with walking and simply being able to function without being miserable, the benefits are being overshadowed. But whether a patient chooses to go with liposuction or a thigh lift to address their lower body or the SculpSure™ nonsurgical fat reduction method, they’re alleviating a genuine concern that is persistently bothersome – and there’s nothing freakish about any of that in my opinion.

Thanks to advancements in technology and the constant improving of surgical techniques, patients have access to more options today than ever before. The internet and social media certainly have become hot beds for conversations and shared opinions on all things plastic surgery, but at the very core, the choice for a person to undergo any surgical procedure should be extremely important, personal, and shouldn’t be dictated based on societal views and prejudices. Vanity will perhaps always exist but I think keeping an open mind when considering the pieces of a person’s story we may not know, before lumping them into negative stereotypes, will foster a stronger support system within our community and view those who benefit from plastic surgery in a more positive light.

The Most Popular Plastic Surgery Procedures of 2015

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has spoken – the cosmetic plastic surgery statistics are in and we now know just how many patients contributed to the whopping 15,908,330 procedures performed in the United States last year alone (that number includes both surgical and minimally-invasive procedures). While we still see the trend of nonsurgical treatments surging, surgical plastic surgery collectively saw a 2% increase since 2015 (sitting nicely with just over 1.7 million total cosmetic procedures performed). In a field where breast enhancement long dominated the charts, let’s look at the most popular plastic surgery procedures of 2015, and more specifically, why these procedures may have experienced the surge they did.

2015-plastic-surgery-statistics-infographicWhat I found most interesting when checking out the stats is that the biggest increase in popularity occurred among body contouring and male plastic surgery procedures. It doesn’t give any specific reason behind this shift but I would guess that it has to do with a wider acceptance of elective procedures on a world-wide scale, an influx in men who see many of the same benefits women see as pertaining to the positive outcomes plastic surgery can promote, or it could merely be that people are finding plastic surgery more affordable with a greater level of attainability than ever before. Whatever the case may be, liposuction, tummy tuck, and male breast reduction took the most improved prizes this year:

Liposuction

  • Statistics: 222,051 procedures were performed in 2015, a 5% increase from 210,552 last year.
  • What it treats: Small amounts of fat located on the stomach, legs, back, love handles, chest, saddlebags, arms, buttocks, chin, and even knees and around the ankles.
  • How it works: Liposuction is not a weight loss tool but it works to sculpt the body by removing fat that won’t seem to budge with proper diet and exercise. Using a very thin tube, called a cannula, inserted into small incisions in the skin, fat deposits are targeted and physically removed with a suction-like method so the treated area on the body can no longer accumulate fat.
  • Ideal candidates: Men and women both can benefit from this body contouring procedure and patients who have unwanted, isolated pockets of fat can most benefit from liposuction results (and those who want to go the nonsurgical route – SculpSure™ is the newest fat reduction technology system to produce liposuction-like results, in half the time as other outdated nonsurgical fat reduction systems, without the required downtime).

Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

  • Statistics: 127,967 procedures were performed in 2015, a 9% increase from 117,158 last year.
  • What it treats: Areas of concern around the abdomen including stubborn fat, weakened abdominal muscles (tummy pooch), and/or excess skin on the lower part of the body.
  • How it works: The main objective for any tummy tuck result is to create a flatter abdomen. First incisions are made in the lower region of the abdominal (imagine a line drawn between the hips horizontally; allowing scars to be easily hidden underneath underwear or bikini bottoms), then loose skin and unwanted fat are removed, and if needed, followed by repairing the weakened abdominal muscles. As added benefit to my tummy tuck patients, I have finessed a specialized tummy tuck technique called the Scarpa Fascia technique which gives me the ability to create a more hourglass shape for patients (once only achievable by combining liposuction). The waistline is shapelier thanks to more curvature and definition of the abdomen, recovery time is quicker, and the stomach flatter.
  • Ideal candidates: Patients in generally good health, mothers who have finished having children (because additional pregnancies could reverse a patient’s tummy tuck results), or men and women who have lost significant weight and are looking to shed the extra hanging skin make optimal tummy tuck candidates.

Male Breast Reduction 

  • Statistics: 27,456 procedures were performed in 2015, a 5% increase from 26,175 last year.
  • What it treats: Gynecomastia – a condition among men that causes overly large breasts.
  • How it works: Male breast reduction works by first removing the extra fat in the breasts, addressing excess tissue and loose skin, and then combining liposuction to further produce a flattened chest.
  • Ideal candidates: Men who are not happy with the appearance of their breasts and want to improve the proportion of their chest in relation to their overall physique see great benefit from male breast reduction.

If I had to guess, I imagine these trends will only continue to grow as more and more people become familiar with the life-changing aspects of plastic surgery and as advancements in plastic surgery technology and techniques continue to exponentially improve. Check out the infographic ASPS released for more on all of the top cosmetic and reconstructive procedures of 2015 and give Southern Plastic Surgery a call at 770-622-9100 to schedule your complimentary consultation to get your own journey started. Stay connected with me, Dr. David Whiteman, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube for more plastic surgery updates and insider tips.

Male Breast Reduction Surgeries

More and more men are seeking cosmetic plastic surgery to look as young as they feel. In fact, I’d say I see on average three male patients per day – some come because they are interested in nonsurgical facial procedures (like facial fillers) to make them more competitive in the business world, while others look to body contouring procedures to get the sculpted look of their youth. A good percentage of men I’ve seen recently have discovered a more permanent solution to treating gynecomastia (a condition that causes overly large male breasts): male breast reduction surgeries. Liposuction and male breast reduction procedures are generally the two options men have for eliminating excess breast tissue and skin, but today I wanted to focus on the male breast reduction side a bit by sharing some of the key points my patients discuss with me regarding their male breast reduction procedure.

To give you a brief history on gynecomastia, it’s a medical term originating from the Greek phrase meaning “woman-like breasts.” The direct causes can vary but typically stems from genetics, disease, or a hormonal imbalance of estrogen and testosterone which cause the breast glands to increase to an unusually large size. Some men can experience gynecomastia in one breast (often contributing to the breasts looking noticeably uneven) and for others, it can affect both breasts. It’s been reported by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) that 26,175 men underwent male breast reduction in the previous year; a 14% increase from the year before. There can be any number of reasons why this male plastic surgery procedure has gained popularity but the fact remains the same: in order to address oversized breasts, you’ll have to consider a permanent solution.

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you may be considered a prime male breast reduction candidate:

  • Do you have overly large breasts due to gynecomastia?
  • Are you embarrassed to take off your shirt in public?
  • Have you skipped working out at the gym because you’re self-conscious about your breast size?
  • Would you like to improve your body’s proportions?
  • Has your confidence suffered because of your breast’s appearance?

As I mentioned in my video, I want you to be able to enjoy time outdoors or at the beach without feeling embarrassed. Sorry to break the news but even with the most diligent diet and exercise maintenance, the extra fat you carry on your chest won’t disappear. Luckily, having worked as a double-board certified plastic surgeon with over 22 years specializing in breast procedures, I’ve noticed just how remarkable this procedure can be for men that have spent years hiding behind oversized clothing and not able to live life to its fullest and I hope anyone who can relate may consider doing something about it for themselves. If you’re interested in learning more about male breast reduction surgeries performed at Southern Plastic Surgery, P.C. (SPS), please don’t hesitate to contact me, Dr. David Whiteman, today.