Once considered a part of the female sphere, with the words ‘plastic surgery’ bringing to mind a plethora of celebrity boob and nose jobs, cosmetic surgery is fast becoming an integral part of the male domain too. Indeed, BAAPS (the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) has found that between 2010 and 2011, the number of cosmetic procedures undergone by men increased by 5.6 percent—a rate only marginally slower than that for women’s surgery, which was 5.8 percent.
Popular types of male surgery
Gynaecomastia operations (the reduction of breast tissue in men), liposuction and tummy tucks are among the most increasingly popular types of cosmetic surgery for men in the UK, each rising at a rate between seven and 15 per cent. According to the current President of BAAPS, Fazel Fatah, this should come as no surprise in light of the heightened demand for surgical treatment of obesity, which has resulted in a rising number of gastric bands in men. Procedures such as this (as well as other, non-surgical methods of losing weight) can result in loose, excess skin where fat has been removed, consequently leading to the rise in demand for tummy tucks.
Why do more women than men get tummy tucks?
Tummy tucks (the colloquial term for abdominoplasty) is the process by which excess fat and skin is removed from the stomach area, giving the appearance of a firmer abdomen. In 2011, BAAPS recorded 124 male tummy tucks in contrast with a staggering 3251 in women. However, the disparity between these numbers is easily explained. For men, the chief reason for getting a tummy tuck is following major weight loss, via either a gastric band or non-surgical methods such as exercise. The tummy tuck gives the man a more toned stomach than would be achieved solely with the gastric band. For women, however, pregnancy is another key cause of loose skin around the stomach area. Following giving birth, many women restore their body confidence with a tummy tuck that firms up the abdomen.
The rise of male tummy tucks
Last year in the UK, not a single area of cosmetic surgery decreased in popularity. Overall, the number of procedures performed by BAAPS members increased by 5.8 per cent, with male tummy tucks increasing by a considerable 15 per cent. This may be surprising in the current economic climate, but the nation’s intensifying scrutiny of its health, as well as the safety of certain cosmetic procedures, may go some way to explaining this increase.
Approximately 80 per cent of men under 70 suffer from male pattern baldness, a condition that was widely believed to be caused by the permanent loss of hair follicles on the scalp. However, this belief has been challenged by recent research into the effect of prostaglandins on hair loss. Indeed, while certain prostaglandins actually stimulate hair growth, prostaglandin-D2 (or PGD2, for the scientists amongst us) has recently been discovered to be a potential cause of male pattern baldness.
What is male pattern baldness?
Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is a condition that causes the minimisation of hair follicles on the scalp, leading to the production of microscopic hairs which grow more slowly than other hair. As such, they do not grow quickly enough to replace the minimised follicles. However, with the advent of new research into the effect of prostaglandins, the cause of male pattern baldness is disputed. While previous theories suggested that follicles were permanently destroyed by male pattern baldness, it has recently been suggested that follicles are actually intact, but their ability to produce hair is inhibited by prostaglandin-D2, especially when activated by the protein known as GPR44. There is a threefold increase of PGD2 on the bald part of the scalp than on the hairy part.
What does this mean for sufferers of male pattern baldness?
Previous treatments for male pattern baldness have often involved the replacement of impaired follicles with those from areas of the scalp unaffected by baldness. However, the recent theories that suggest that follicles remain physically undamaged may allow sufferers of androgenetic alopecia to hope for treatments that repair the ability of these follicles to produce hair at the same rate as normal follicles. Indeed, it appears that research into the receptor and activator of PGD2, GPR44, may provide medical experts with inroads into new kinds of treatment that will combat, or possibly prevent, male pattern baldness.
What about the gender difference in androgenetic alopecia?
Although male pattern baldness occurs primarily in men (as suggested by the name), women can suffer from it too. Until recently, there has been ambiguity over the reason that both genders suffer from this condition, but the discovery of prostaglandin-D2 and GPR44 as causes of it may go some way to addressing this. Experts hope that finding treatments that directly tackle the possibility of prostaglandin-D2 as a cause of male pattern baldness will benefit female sufferers of androgenetic alopecia, too.