Body Contouring By the Numbers

Despite the data, there is a difference between men and women when it comes to liposuction


The numbers don’t lie: Both men and women have liposuction, and a lot of it.

According to the latest statistical data reported by the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), women had more than 271,000 liposuction procedures last year, the second most popular treatment next to breast augmentation. In the fast-growing segment of men opting to undergo cosmetic enhancement and responsible for nearly 10 percent of all cosmetic procedures performed in 2012, a total of nearly 1 million procedures, liposuction ranked number 1. Despite a shared interest in body contouring, however, as one plastic surgeon expert explained in an article in Cosmetic Surgery Times, many factors help to maintain a male-female divide.


"Men just want to look better; they tend to have sort of a 'caveman' mentality," Jeffry B. Schafer, M.D., F.R.S.M., San Diego, explained to the magazine. "Their attitude tends to be, 'Me patient, you doctor: I don't have to look perfect. I just want to look better.'” It’s an attitude that stands in stark contrast to the desire for perfection often requested by women. Women, he said, tend to be willing to put up with more pain and downtime for a better result. Men however, prefer minimally invasive procedures. They’re simply  not interested in an extended recovery time or having to follow complicated post-surgical instructions.


To appease the male desire to minimize downtime and speed up the recovery process, Dr. Schafer uses a combination of vitamin K (pre surgery) with Arnica montana and a topical foam (post surgery) to facilitate healing. He calls this his “rapid recovery” program. A good thing too. Men, he said, may not voice their complaints, but they definitely have a lower threshold for pain. Dr. Schafer describes men as having physical subdermal tissue that’s the texture of a fibrous “rib eye steak” rather than the “filet mignon” in females. Whether it’s the breast, hips or abdomen, tougher tissue requires special tools, such as a power cannula, and a heavier hand. Added to his rapid recovery program, tumescent anesthesia also helps with safety and recovery.


To tackle the tougher tissue, Dr. Schafer said tools make all the difference. His tool of choice? The power cannula. "Men are actually more fibrous, especially in the male breast area, but also in the abdomen and the hips. So they tend to have less fat and more of the fibrous tissue connection," he told CST.


Although it may be a physically more demanding job to shape up the male body, Dr. Schafer’s experience is that "these patients are much easier to work with than are their female counterparts, because more often than not, they are less demanding."


Notably, ASAPS statistics also report an increasing demand in nonsurgical body contouring treatments: 62,014 for women; 14,599 for men. This is the first year the ASAPS has collected data for this category.