The ideal male body shape is considered to be trim and athletic-looking, with broad shoulders and chest, a flat abdomen, and a narrow hip-thigh area. However, as men age, areas of fat tend to accumulate around the abdomen, the flanks (“love handles”), the breast area (a condition called gynecomastia), and along the chin and neck. Men sometimes seek liposuction to remove these fatty areas that are resistant to diet and exercise.
In many cases, liposuction alone can effectively correct these problem areas. Men retain their skin elasticity longer than women do, and the areas of fat beneath the skin tend to be firmer and more vascular. Because of these and other factors, liposuction in men is usually very effective. Men who have some loose, hanging skin as well as areas of excess fat may opt for a traditional excision procedure (surgical skin removal) in addition to liposuction. An excision may also be performed on gynecomastia patients whose breast enlargement is made up of mostly glandular tissue, rather than fat.
A full abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” is an option for men with hanging abdominal skin (usually the result of massive weight loss), loose abdominal muscles, and/or neglected hernias. It is a major surgical procedure that removes excess fat, tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall, and trims the waistline. Men who have a full abdominoplasty are often surprised at the long recovery period. Some patients aren’t able to return to work up to 4 weeks after surgery. Men with good skin elasticity who have only a moderate amount of excess abdominal fat may benefit from liposuction alone.
Muscle-enhancing surgery: In recent years, plastic surgeons have developed ways of improving muscle contour with cosmetic implants and “sculpting” techniques. Calf implants, which were originally developed to restore leg contour in accident or polio victims, are now sometimes used to create cosmetic fullness in the lower leg. Similarly, pectoral implants, which are used to build the chests of men with Poland’s syndrome, can also be used to “bulk out” the existing pectoral muscles of healthy men. A small number of doctors have begun offering their male patients abdominal etching, a new liposuction technique that creates a muscular, rippled appearance in the abdominal area. Men who consider cosmetic muscle enhancement should keep in mind that these procedures are still relatively new.
After Your Surgery
The days and weeks immediately following your surgery are critical to obtaining a good final result. Therefore, it’s essential that you follow your doctor’s instructions. This may mean taking adequate time off work; wearing bandages or tight compression garments; getting enough rest; staying out of the sun; saying no to alcohol and cigarettes; and avoiding strenuous activity, exercise, sports, and even sex.
However, plastic surgeons understand that it’s sometimes difficult for men, who are programmed by society to be stoic, to remain in bed for very long or to accept help from others during recovery. Studies have shown that men often deny their pain and feel foolish about asking for help after surgery. Men who reject help may have an especially difficult recovery if post-operative depression sets in during the weeks following surgery.
To avoid post-operative problems, it’s important that you arrange to have a support person available to help you — both physically and emotionally — for about a week after surgery. If you get the help and rest you need, you’ll improve your chances of a quicker recovery — and see your results sooner.