There seems to be high demand for cosmetic surgery for women (procedures like labiaplasty) – and plastic surgery for men, including breast reduction surgery. Do you think people today are overly obsessed with looking good in all parts of the body? It may seem that way, with the explosion of plastic surgery in Singapore and a myriad other cosmetic treatments. But might this just be an inevitable part of the human condition?
Citizens of the ancient civilisations that first dabbled in plastic surgery were a lot like us in their quest for beauty. They, however, didn’t have to deal with social media and the relentless pressure to be Insta-perfect. Take the famously stunning Queen Cleopatra (BCE 69- 30), for example. Relatively few people would ever have seen her up close, right? Let alone trolled her about her prominent nose, or the likely spottiness of a complexion bathed in full-fat asses’ milk.
Plastic surgery has been around for ages. One Ancient Egyptian medical textbook includes details of nose reconstruction, and as far back as 6th-century India, physicians were already doing something very like today’s nose-jobs. By the fourth century, Chinese doctors were surgically removing excess skin around the eyes, the first blepharoplasty procedures. They also performed some of the earliest recorded cleft-lip repairs. Incredible!
By the way, the term “plastic” surgery has nothing to do with the material we call plastic. In fact, it comes from the ancient Greek word plastikos, meaning to mould or give shape.
Who’s doing it?
Women have long been the main consumers of plastic surgery. But that’s changing fast, and often for similar reasons: ageism is a big one for both sexes. Several high-powered businesswomen friends of mine admit to undergoing rejuvenation procedures – and never revealing their age – not for vanity alone, but more to protect their well-paid careers.
Men face the same pressures. Plastic surgery for men is on the increase as some feel the need to look younger in a competitive work space where they may be up against younger men. Often, the focus will be on facial rejuvenation or hair implants – but there’s no reason to stop at the Adam’s apple.
Male Breast Reduction
Apart from face and neck lifts, men are increasingly interested in body recontouring, says Singapore-based Brazilian plastic surgeon DR MARCO FARIA CORREA. One of his most requested procedures when it comes to plastic surgery for men is the reduction of ‘man boobs’ to achieve a more manly chest.
What is gynaecomastia?
Simply, it’s the excessive enlargement of the male breast, and it’s common in men of any age.
How is it treated?
Individually customised to each patient, our treatment aims to reduce overly developed male breasts and nipples. A man’s decision to undergo surgery is extremely personal, and it’s important from the start for him to understand whether it will help him achieve the outcome he is looking for.
Which techniques do you use?
Our two main techniques for this procedure are:
- Liposuction, which may be enough if the primary problem is excess fatty tissue; and
- Excision, if we need to remove glandular breast tissue or excess skin.
What does the surgery entail?
Gynaecomastia correction is an outpatient procedure that takes around one to three hours. Whether for liposuction or excision, we use tiny incisions to ensure minimal trauma and minimal downtime. We choose either general anaesthesia, or intravenous sedation together with local anaesthesia.
How about downtime for this cosmetic surgery?
You can return to work after seven days, and get back to more strenuous activity after two to three weeks. Expect some swelling and bruising, most of which will disappear within three to six months. The good news? You’ll be much happier to show your chest off, with or without a shirt on. Best of all, results are permanent!
Female Genital Rejuvenation
When DR HANJING LEE says she thinks most women would be more comfortable discussing this delicate subject with a female plastic surgeon, I have to agree. This is an especially intimate topic, perhaps more so than any other cosmetic surgery.
What cosmetic surgery do people ask for in this area?
My female clients ideal is hairless and pink labia majora (the outer, naturally hair-bearing areas), and the labia minora (inner flaps) not projecting beyond the labia majora.
How can abnormalities or age-related changes affect women’s health and wellbeing?
Vaginal laxity or looseness can cause reduced sensation or satisfaction during intercourse, stress urinary incontinence, dryness, friction and chronic irritation. There can also be discomfort with activities such as horse-riding or cycling.
Which aesthetic issues tend to bother women most?
Any asymmetry with either the labia majora or minora; a large and protrusive labia minora; or a “camel toe” look while wearing leggings or yoga pants. The good news is that a wide range of treatments are available. Dr Lee can:
- Restore tightness, lubricity and proper sensation to the vagina, using either vaginoplasty, or repeated laser or radiofrequency sessions.
- Hide the labia minora within the majora (where they should be), using labiaplasty.
- Reduce over-prominent labia majora, again with labiaplasty.
- Improve the aesthetics of deflated labia majora with fat-grafting or fillers. Remember that no two women are the same, says Dr Lee. And she should know!
Common and uncommon plastic surgery in Singapore
Most of us have at least heard of the most popular plastic surgeries. Depending who’s doing the counting, breast augmentation, liposuction and nose-reshaping top the list, followed by eyelid surgery, tummy tucks, labiaplasty and facelifts. They’re increasingly accepted as a normal part of life.
Way back in the 20th century, a childhood friend of mine was given a nose job for her 16th birthday; and, for a while there, my parents seriously considered having my sister’s sticky-out ears pinned back. Fortunately, she grew into them. (More or less.)
Just for fun, here’s a list of more fringe plastic surgery procedures to consider.
- Hankering after a six-pack but can’t be arsed to hit the gym? High-def liposculpture combines liposuction and skin shrinkage to carve out the washboard abs of your dreams.
- Umbilicoplasty changes the shape of your belly-button, transforming an “outie” into an “innie”, or vice-versa.
- In Japan, you can have your palm-lines redrawn. For people who believe in palm-reading, this is supposed to promote a happier future and a luckier life in general.
- Wish you looked a whole lot cuter? Opt for a dimpleplasty, which means exactly what it sounds like.
This article on plastic surgeons in Singapore first appeared in the April 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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