We are all aware of the pressure society places on people to meet or to strive for perceived physical “perfection.” Although it’s common to read about women working on their figures or features, many men feel the same need to diet and to workout. A bulked-up physique has become a standard criteria for male attractiveness leading some men to take steroids and even to seek body-building cosmetic implants in their chests and arms. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, pectoral implant surgery was performed 409 times in 2006, an increase of 99 percent from the previous year.
Beginning in the 1980s societal perceptions of what makes the male physique attractive changed from the ideal of the trim, suave Hollywood stars of the 1940s to the ripped action heroes of the modern cinema. A sculpted, rugged chest is now seen as conveying strength, good health, power and virility. Most men, through hard work in the gym, can build that kind of chest. Others can’t and for them, pectoral implants are a rapidly attractive option at a cost of anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000 for the procedure.
The silicone implants themselves are made by Allied Biomedicals and cost approximately $1,600 per pair. There are two basic shape configurations and a range of five sizes. Unlike breast implants for women, pectoral devices have a semi-solid feel meant to mimic well-developed muscle. The implants have been on the market for approximately 20 years and similar prosthetics are available to shape and enlarge the biceps and triceps. (Although usually chosen as a personal augmentation, the implants are also routinely used to correct chest deformities and as such perform a reconstructive medical purpose as well as a cosmetic one.)
To place the pectoral implants, the surgeon makes an incision in the armpit that will subsequently be disguised by the underarm hair. Typically the cut is two to three inches in length, allowing the surgeon access to an area under the muscle that is free of both nerves and blood vessels. The implant is folded in half before being inserted and positioned between the pectoral muscles. After the incision is closed, recovery takes approximately two weeks with tolerable discomfort. Most patients report a heavy, stiff sensation that lasts a few days. Exercise and sports should be avoided for two to six weeks after the surgery and patients may need to get used to actually feeling the edge of the implants at the extreme edge of their range of motion.
Potential post-surgical complications include infection, which effects approximately 1 percent of patients. This may result in a need to remove the effected implant with a subsequent wait of six months before another implant can be positioned. If noticeable migration or displacement of an implant occurs, a second surgery will be required to reposition the device. A degree of chest bruising is to be expected and should disappear after two to three weeks. In about 1 percent of patients numbness may occur in the upper arm and it is possible to lose sensation in one or both nipples. This may be temporary or permanent. In some cases pockets of fluid may also form. If unabsorbed by the body, the fluid may need to be drained away.
Pectoral implants still represent a specialized niche in the field of cosmetic surgery and heretofore have been heavily associated with the gay community. Of the 11.5 million cosmetic procedures performed in 2006, 1 million were on men, with eyelid surgery, liposuction, and the removal of excess breast tissue leading the surgical list. Chest implants are, however, growing in popularity across the male population as a viable means of gaining the chiseled chest definition that society seems to demand of “manly” men today.
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From a face lift to chest implants, more men are choosing to undergo cosmetic procedures to enhance their looks and improve their self-esteem.
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