A few months back, I wrote a post called “Short King or Daddy Long Legs” that explored the practice of leg lengthening by men. A ghastly and painful exercise just to get a few inches taller. Well, as a man living curious, I recently did a little research on other procedures men are undergoing to “enhance’ their appearance. My research uncovered two new vanity surgeries: jaw reconstruction and ab etching. Like learning about leg lengthening, I was caught off guard reading about what appear to be rather common practices. Neither is something I have ever heard about before. For me, I have two minds about cosmetic surgery. My first mind struggles with one’s need to spend the money (big money) and endure the pain (hella pain) to change their appearance. But, mind two fully appreciates one making these changes if in fact confidence and contentment are an after effect of the procedure. Given the state of our society, anything that doesn’t involve harming other humans and can help with confidence and contentment is probably good.
Cosmetic surgery has been primarily the women’s domain. In 2019 92% of all cosmetic procedures were performed on women while only 8% were performed on men, though a 29% increase since 2000. One “ab-etcher” Fredrick Hamilton commented, “There’s an unwritten thing that you have to be a manly man, and look the way you are, and that’s just the way that is.” If men want to use new techniques for upgrading their appearance, he asks, what’s the harm? Australian Darryn Lyons considered his ab etching, “basically the male version of the boob job.” Dudes living with intention??
One plastic surgeon who started his practice decades ago says less than 5 percent of his clients were men. That has jumped to 30 percent today, and, he says, “It’s all six packs.”
Dr. Joshua Korman, a plastic surgeon based in Mountain View, California, says the lure of a six-pack is obvious. “That’s what high school boys want,” he says. “That’s what college guys want. That’s what people of all ages want.” Hmmm…raise your hand if a six pack is still on your wish list!
Now, the jaw reconstructionists are seeking a jaw line that the “manosphere” has identified as a defying physical feature of the dominant masculine. Exploding as a result of the pandemic and Zoom, facial procedures for both men and women increased 55 % in 2021. Plastic surgeon, Dr Richard Westreich said that chin implants are his second most common male procedure, frequently alongside “submentoplasty; a surgical tightening of the jawline that creates more definition.”
Here’s a glimpse of one reporter’s exposure to a jaw manipulating procedure.
“The surgery is done through the mouth. First, the wisdom teeth are removed. Then more buzzing, as the mandible is cut. Alfaro asks for the music to be turned up – Britpop and indie – and then reaches for the hammer and chisel. “I think of myself as a sophisticated carpenter,” he says. There’s a crack, like the splintering of a lobster shell, and the front section of the man’s mandible, the lower jaw, is completely detached. Alfaro moves it forward into position using a splint to match it with the top jaw and fixes it into place with titanium plates that can remain in the body. The same process is conducted with the maxilla, the upper jaw, which Alfaro is able to detach via a small incision in the gum, part of a set of “minimally invasive” techniques that speed up recovery. Whirr. Tap, tap. Crack. “Shark Smile” by Big Thief plays in the background. The top jaw is positioned with another splint and locked into place.”
Yikes! I sure hope the “finished carpentry” done on this man’s face will bring the confidence and contentment he seeks. As I read these transformation stories, I am skeptical. Will the new jaw and/or abs satisfy these men’s desires? It feels like there are bigger issues at play. One surgeon’s office shared they turn away 15% of prospective patients due to mental health concerns or suspicion of body dysmorphia.
Thoughts? How does all this sit with you?
I think such surgeries must remain complicated, risky and costly, and thus, a last resort for anyone seeking to improve his or her appearance. While I see no problem in such surgeries, the problem could the insecurities that these could bring to the society, if they happen at a scale. A few exceptions with extremely well-crafted jawline may not harm anyone’s confidence, but a large proportion of people having so would make it a norm, making people with natural and imperfect jawlines highly insecure. This applies to all the cosmetic surgeries.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Aditya.