Last week, figures released from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) revealed that despite the recession, surgery is on the rise, with demand for male tummy tucks - abdominoplasties - exceeding all other procedures.
So, despite the current PIP implant scandal, which has probably made going under the knife even less tempting for those considering it, thousands of Britons - and not just women anymore - still see surgery as the solution, risks and all.
While the beer belly may once have been the inevitable endpoint down the road known as 'middle age spread'- it's now mainly seen as a harbinger of potential health problems to come (excess belly fat in men has been linked to a range of illnesses, from heart disease to strokes). So not only have we been conditioned to view it as less desirable than the rippled washboard abs, biologically speaking, it's not great news for male tummies either.
Like women, men who go under the knife want to feel happier about themselves, inside and out. Procedures like abdominoplasty and gynaecomastia (aka man boob removal) are endured for the same reason women get implants or lipsuction: to feel more attractive, more confident about being naked, more relaxed on the beach, or more accepting of an ageing body.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to feel more sexy, attractive, or self-confident, but it saddens me that plastic surgery doesn't seem to be viewed as the extreme measure it once was. The men going under the knife in Britain aren't only celebrities or surgery addicts; they're even-keeled guys looking for a solution. And even though more and more people are having surgery, that doesn't make it any less invasive, painful or potentially dangerous - so the idea of subjecting yourself to something so dramatic (and potentially traumatic) for a result you may not even be entirely happy with seems like a potentially high risk-low reward strategy.
While surgery is still prohibitive (cost, fear factor, etc), I do worry that it's becoming viewed as the quick and easy route to a new you, for men and women alike. Why bother with the stress and discipline of diet and exercise when you can knock off three stone in a matter of hours? And why even attempt to navigate the long and often arduous path of trying to come to terms with your own body and feel secure about yourself and the extra ten pounds you're carrying if you know you'll never need to?
Hollywood isn't helping. The new batch of male stars that came onto the scene in the 90s/2000s with 'real man' bodies and bellies - Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill - have all dropped the weight in recent years. And the most celebrated male gut we've seen on TV recently is Celebrity Big Brother star Darryn Lyons' designer six-pack, contoured by surgeons onto his beer belly. This, on the plus side, was so ridiculous it served as an indictment against male plastic surgery.
If getting a tummy tuck is the step that it takes to inspire a man to get into shape and embrace a healthier lifestyle, that's a great personal achievement that I wouldn't belie. But if the rise in male plastic surgery means that men with insecurity issues are drinking up cosmetic procedures like they're swallowing from a Fountain of Hotness (hello Mickey Rourke and Pete Burns), there is a reason to worry.
Personally, I think a man with a belly - who cares about his health but also realises that life is too short to spend calorie-counting the whole time - is sexier than one whose sense of self is based on trying to conform to some image of attractiveness.
Women have gone too far in their pursuit of perfection and girlishness, to the point where their admiration of what's beautiful seems permanently skewed - the beauty that women seem able appreciate is often a parochial, homogenised vision of attractiveness limited by ridiculous parameters like weight, age or facial symmetry. I hope the rise in male plastic surgery doesn't mean the same thing is happening to men, too.
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