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Men: The new face of plastic surgery
April 17th, 2012
05:47 AM ET

Men: The new face of plastic surgery

Anthony Youn, M.D., is a plastic surgeon in metro Detroit. He is the author of “In Stitches,” a humorous memoir about growing up Asian American and becoming a doctor.

The pair of double-Ds jutting out in front of me look like they would belong on Pam Anderson.

Instead they’re attached to a 14-year-old boy.

I whip out a black marker and start drawing on Phil, my first surgery patient of the day.  Phil has severe gynecomastia, or enlarged male breasts.

Phil was brought to me by his grandmother, who raised him since he was ten.  Apparently he was a well-behaved kid and good student until puberty hit.  Like most maturing boys his voice deepened and his height increased. Unlike most other boys, however, he began to sprout breasts.

His breasts grew and grew until they drooped down to the middle of his abdomen.

Phil’s grandmother noticed him becoming more and more withdrawn.  His friends abandoned him.  Kids taunted him.  His grades suffered.  He even failed physical education after refusing to take his shirt off.  Phil’s grandmother decided to take control of the situation and made an appointment for Phil to see me.

At the consultation, Phil was mostly quiet.  He let his grandmother do the talking.  Then, at the end of the appointment his sad eyes stared into mine.  With a quivering voice he asked, “Can you help me?”

“Yes,” I replied, with as much confidence as I could muster.

Three weeks later, here we are.

--

Phil is part of a new trend in plastic surgery.  More and more men are signing up to have work done.  According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 2011 more than 800,000 men underwent cosmetic procedures, an increase of 121% since 1997.  Gynecomastia reduction, one of the most popular surgeries, was performed on nearly 18,000 men.  Botox was the most common procedure overall, with over 260,000 men undergoing injections in 2011.

Possibly the biggest factor influencing the rise in male plastic surgery is improvement in techniques, devices and products.  Looking refreshed and rejuvenated has never been so easy.  Gone are the days when patients had to deal with lengthy scars and a ‘wind tunnel’ appearance.  Bags under the eyes and bumps on the nose can now be removed with no visible scars.  Injectables like Botox and Restylane can  reduce wrinkles while avoiding the knife.  And new laser treatments can smooth the skin without any downtime at all.

Still, cautionary tales remain.  Because most plastic surgery procedures were developed with the female face and figure in mind, they must be performed differently on men.  Otherwise male patients can be left looking feminized and unnatural.  One look at Kenny Rogers, who famously admitted to having undergone botched upper eyelid surgery back in 2006, will confirm this risk.  He gambled with plastic surgery and lost.

So what about Phil?

--

Phil’s surgery goes well.   I lop off his breasts with a scalpel, cut off the nipples and suture them back onto his now flat chest as skin grafts.  The whole procedure takes 90 minutes.

Eight pounds of breast tissue lighter, we sit him up on the operating room table.  His chest has gone from massive and saggy to flat and tight.  His areolas have decreased in diameter from the size of pie plates to quarters.

Three months later Phil and his grandma see me for his final postoperative visit.  His demeanor has changed from sad and withdrawn to friendly and energetic.  It’s as if a cloud over his world was lifted.  As he walks out of the exam room, he stops and gives me a big, devilish grin.

Then he says something that makes my day.

“Dr. Youn, guess what?  I have a date tonight.”

I can’t help but smile back.


soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. pixilator

    What an awesome turn around for Phil! I feel quite sure that that young man feels as though Dr Youn performed a miracle. In some respects he did. Dr Yovn gave this young man a normal life. Awesome!!!

    April 17, 2012 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. tomara

    And a tranny would have loved them

    April 17, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. StarBorneMaiden

    What a horrible disease for a teenage boy to getl. I could only imagine how people treated him

    April 17, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Seeker76

    You know, I consider most plastic surgery to be a waste of time, money, expertise, and resources. However, stories like this show it has its place, and I am glad that young man was helped. I wouldn't say the same about some young girl who want to increase her perfectly normal breasts to cannonballs.

    April 17, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. artsygirly

    I would say that there are two stories in this article; people who require plastic surgery to have a higher quality of life (Phil, burn victims, breast reductions) and people who want to maintain their youth though fillers, botox, and face lifts. I have no problem with people seeking either type of plastic surgery- but I would not put them in the same category. Congrats on Phil on gaining confidence.

    April 17, 2012 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jason

    Tomara, you are a dumb a$$$.

    April 17, 2012 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Marina

    So absolutely amazing....to give a young man back the self love, esteem and emotional security that will enable him to go through the phases to full manhood confidently is truly a blessing. If it wasn't for doctors like this, sadly some of these young teens would give up and commit suicide. YOU ROCK DR.YOUN!

    April 17, 2012 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mask

    It's great that he was able to get his breasts reduced to normal size, but what about the underlying problem? I'm guessing that he had too much estrogen production? I'm guessing some sort of aromatase inhibitor or? Sorry. I was just curious since it seems like cutting them to a smaller size would help, but the potential would always be there for them to enlarge again, right?

    April 17, 2012 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. jb

    This article talks about a growing trend of plastic surgery for men; but Phil, the boy with large breasts, is an extremely atypical example, and hardly a good illustration for such a trend.

    I don't think anybody has ever had a problem with people resorting to plastic surgery to fix serious physical deformities, such as abnormal breasts on men, or cleft palates, or injuries due to accidents. But it's different when normal looking people have themselves cut up for the sake of vanity, simply to improve their appearances. I think it's sad that so many women feel the need to do this, and if it's true this practice is becoming more common among men I think that is sad as well.

    April 19, 2012 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Marcus

    The Tea Party is all about destroying our nation! The Tea Party is dangerous to democracy!

    April 23, 2012 at 04:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. adabellepeter

    This is a nice comeback and the surgery makes boy to be in the society who laughs and abandoned him,surgery helps him to back his confidence and the nice smile on his face.Thanks for sharing this blog.

    April 25, 2012 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Justin

    Seems that gynecomastia correction surgery has become a growing trend (see: http://www.csurgeons.com/denver-plastic-surgeon-male-breast-reduction-more-popular-than-ever/ for a more recent example). The actual condition may have something to do with a hormone imbalance. It's a good thing that surgeons are able to correct this as this condition can have awful social side effects, especially for teens.

    June 4, 2012 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Kyle

    Sounds like a respectable surgeon like my Los Angeles doctor for tummy tuck . I'm sure he'll get so many patients.

    June 5, 2012 at 06:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. David

    Plastic surgeons are the reason why plastic surgery is in huge demand. People are opting for plastic surgery why because the surgeons are performing the surgery at an amazingly good quality results. Plastic surgeons are continuously working hard to provide their patients the best of the surgery facility and surgeon like Dr.Phil are great example of good plastic surgeons.

    July 3, 2012 at 07:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Victoria Yem

    Plastic surgeries nowadays are getting increasingly more popular as more and more people are getting vane. In the near future plastic surgeries will be just a normal thing like going to the dentist.",.".

    Kind thanks
    http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com">

    July 24, 2012 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.