The male body has historically been depicted across different artistic mediums as an athletic, lean, muscular figure, like sculptures from ancient Greek history. Presently, many male actors are considered body icons and are found on magazine covers worldwide. Research suggests that the ideal male figure matches those in the media and that women prefer lean men with well-defined muscles.[i] This is likely because this body represents discipline, dominance, resilience, and sexual experience.[ii]
Although regular exercise and a healthy diet may help men achieve this physique, many individuals simply don’t have the time or desire to spend hours at the gym. The physique also changes due to aging, with stomach fat being notoriously difficult to lose. When it comes to contouring the male body that goes beyond diet and exercise, there are a number of different procedures that can be explored.
Consultations – Inquiries and Suitability
Men seeking procedure consultations are typically less spontaneous in their decision and less guided by emotion. They are also more direct about their goals and expectations and want to know how the technology works and if the data supports the results. Factors to consider prior to treatment include lifestyle, diet, exercise, and alcohol consumption. A prospective patient with poor health will ultimately be a poor candidate for treatment as their lymphatic system will be strained during the procedure and unable to process the destroyed fat cells. Patients do have the option of optimizing their lifestyles prior to and after treatment, which leads to better, longer lasting results.
Visceral fat around the vital organs cannot be treated – it must be decreased through diet and exercise as body contouring treatments only treat subcutaneous fat.[iii] Men might also refrain from the procedure due to the cost, which is why it is important to discuss pricing prior to the initial consultation.[iv]
The abdomen is the most common area of concern, and many men want to reduce fat and emphasize muscle tone in this area. The flanks, or ‘muffin top’, are also often of concern as this area tends to grow with age and is difficult to reduce via exercise. The chest is typically treated for gynecomastia (drooping breasts). Common body contouring treatments are outlined below:
During cryolipolysis, high-pressure suction handpieces are used to cool fat pockets on the body to negative temperatures. The cold induces cell death, and lymphatic drainage eliminates the dead cells.[v] This procedure is best suited for hard-to-treat areas like the flanks. The two-plate applicator system can cover the whole abdominal area. Fat cells will be eliminated between four to twelve weeks following treatment, which will cause tenderness and swelling. The procedure is somewhat uncomfortable as the targeted area is numbed for up to 50 minutes during treatment. Side effects include cold burns, numbing for up to three weeks, and paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, which can lead to the appearance of retained fat cells.[vi]
2. Laser-Assisted Lipolysis
This method uses heat from laser energy to permanently destroy fat cells. The treatment is also shorter, lasting about 25 minutes and destroying 24% of the target fat. Laser lipolysis is ideal for the abdomen and flanks. Usually, two or three treatments are required to see noticeable results, which will be visible around 12 weeks. The risks include thermal injury or nerve damage, which occur infrequently with experienced practitioners who follow treatment protocols. Patients should avoid this method if they have abdominal scars as it may cause pain.
3. Radiofrequency (RF)
Radiofrequency also uses heat to contour the body. The Venus Freeze is one of the devices that heats tissue using multi-polar RF and pulsed electromagnetic fields. During treatment, the fat layer is heated to 45 degrees Celsius, and the fat cells undergo apoptosis while normal cells are unaffected. Fat volume reduction is noticeable after three to eight weeks.[vii] Patients should have eight to ten treatments on a weekly basis. If there are metal implants in the treatment area, or current or a history of cancer, treatment should be avoided. Burns may occur, though are rare as the device is programmed to prevent overheating. With older devices, there is a chance of uneven RF penetration, and thus uneven fat breakdown.
4. High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Technology
This option offers the dual effect of building muscle and burning fat. EMSculpt is an example – it causes non-invasive supramaximal contractions. People cannot achieve this contraction through exercise or voluntary movement – the treatment causes the muscle to remodel itself, strengthening it and burning fat as well.[viii] The core is tighter and posture and back pain often improve. The procedure is painless and a great option for those with a good baseline level of fitness who would like to define their core. There are four treatments per procedure, with no side effects or adverse events reported. However, it should be avoided if the patient has metal near the treatment area.
Liposuction is best for fit patients who desire further sculpting. The technology is FDA-approved! The procedure involves injecting a tumescent liquid into the treatment area and passing a high-frequency ultrasound vibration over the area to break apart fat cells. Probes are also inserted into the targeted tissues.[ix] Later, a suction device removes the broken-down fat and shapes the area. Treatment length depends on the area treated. Usually, patients go home two to three hours after treatment. A rest period of at least seven days is recommended due to the invasive nature of the procedure. Some aftercare is provided, including compression garments and lymphatic massages. Side effects include pain and infection, as well as anesthesia risks. The probes might burn the skin, and seroma may occur if lymphatic drainage is not stimulated. Nipple sensitivity and asymmetry may occur after gynaecomastia.
Body contouring may unintentionally feminize the male patient’s figure, so physicians must keep the male body type of an inverted triangle in mind during procedures.[x] The figure should not be compromised in order to give patients a waist. Choosing the best device for the clinic to offer is also a challenge – it is important to consider the continuity of device training provided by suppliers, and branding should be appropriate for male patients. Associated literature should provide results and clinical data about males as well. Finally, the clinic should be safe and comforting for patients.[xi]
[i] Ancient Origins. (2018). Doryphoros: Greek Art Imitating Ideal Form. Retrieved from: https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts/doryphoros-greek-art-imitating-ideal-form-009942.
[ii] Sell et al. (2017). Cues of upper body strength account for most of the variance in men’s bodily attractiveness. The Royal Society Publishing. Retrieved from: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2017.1819.
[iii] Gronow, C. (2019). Special Feature: Contouring the Male Body. Aesthetics. Retrieved from: https://aestheticsjournal.com/feature/contouring-the-male-body.
[iv] Gronow, C. (2019). Special Feature: Contouring the Male Body. Aesthetics. Retrieved from: https://aestheticsjournal.com/feature/contouring-the-male-body.
[v] What is cryolipolysis? (2019). ASPS. Retrieved from: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/nonsurgical-fat-reduction/cryolipolysis.
[vi] Complication of ‘Fat Freezing’ Procedure May Be More Common Than Thought. (2018). American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Retrieved from: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/press-releases/complication-of-fat-freezing-procedure-may-be-more-common-than-thought.
[vii] Complication of ‘Fat Freezing’ Procedure May Be More Common Than Thought. (2018). American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Retrieved from: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/press-releases/complication-of-fat-freezing-procedure-may-be-more-common-than-thought.
[viii] Jack, D. (2017). An overview of non-surgical body contouring treatments. Aesthetics.
[ix] Kassardjian, N.K. (2019) Vaser – Ultrasonic Liposuction. Retrieved from: https://www.liposuction.com/vaser-liposuction.html.
[x] Gronow, C. (2019). Special Feature: Contouring the Male Body. Aesthetics. Retrieved from: https://aestheticsjournal.com/feature/contouring-the-male-body.
[xi] Gronow, C. (2019). Special Feature: Contouring the Male Body. Aesthetics. Retrieved from: https://aestheticsjournal.com/feature/contouring-the-male-body.