According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of male cosmetic procedures has more than doubled over the past twenty years. We asked our panel of expert surgeons Dr. Brian D. Cohen, Dr. Robert Brueck, Dr. Jon Kurkjian and Dr. Wayne Wertheim to tell us about their male patients’ motivations, the procedures they’re opting for, and how the industry is evolving to cater to men’s needs.
Dr. Kurkjian: There’s much less stigma in today’s society surrounding cosmetic procedures, and I think that acceptance has gradually bled into the male patient population. It may take a little more effort to make sure that they’re listening to the post-op restrictions and potential complications, but men now come in with a specific idea of what they want, often after having done a lot of research online.
Older men – almost always professionals – tend to get facial surgery because they want to remain competitive in a workforce and society that puts a strong emphasis on youth, or to look younger for a second chance at love with a new partner.
I use Botox – sometimes called Brotox – between the eyes, on glabellar frown lines, on smile lines, and on crows’ feet. You can have injections and be back at the office on the same day. Upper lid lifts may leave a bit of bruising for a week, but the sutures are out after seven days and you’re done. Some patients also ask for blepharoplasty, neck lifts, liposuction to the abdomen and flanks, and gynecomastia surgery – in fact, liposuction for gynecomastia is huge, especially amongst men in their twenties.
Dr. Brueck: Somehow, the number one procedure for men in my practice remains male breast surgery. It’s quite common – in fact, I had some of mine suctioned out when I had a double hernia surgery. I guess that being in the warm climate here in Florida, men go around without t-shirts more often. In certain cases, the procedure involves the removal of fatty tissue as well as actual breast tissue, requiring an incision. What can be challenging is when a man has a lot of excess skin – in those cases you also have to do a skin reduction. Another very common concern is love handles: men with a lot of excess fatty tissue in their flanks can have it removed through liposuction. It isn’t too painful. You can get it done on a Friday, shower the next day, and be back at work on Monday.
Blepharoplasty is another great procedure – it can take five to ten years off of your appearance, and in most cases you’ll actually see better. Patients can shampoo their hair the next day and have their sutures out in four to six days. As for non-surgical procedures, Botox would be the main one that men are asking for. It’s a great solution for deep forehead furrows or severe frown lines.
Overall, I would say that I’m seeing more men now than five or ten years ago. While women need a little more hand-holding and time to think about it, men have their minds made up: many are between the ages of 45 and 60 and are looking for ways to look younger and be more competitive in the workplace. Others are recently retired, very active, and just want to be at their best – especially if their wives are twenty years younger.
Dr. Wertheim: Most men don’t want to discuss too much and tend to go along with the doctor’s suggestions, but always say “don’t do too much”. Women tend to be more vocal and assertive – they’ve usually done research and therefore ask more questions and have more opinions.
About 25% of the men coming in report that they’re doing it to help compete with younger co-workers in their field. It goes across the board – we have landscapers, law enforcement officers, teachers, executives, and professionals. Our male patients are generally in their late thirties to mid-sixties, and come from all ethnic backgrounds.
The most frequent surgery we do for men is laser liposuction, usually of love handles and to the lower abdomen, or of the chest to get rid of “man boobs”. We are also seeing a gradual increase in the use of Botox by men. Usually they’re sent in by a wife or girlfriend for their first visit, and then they continue the treatments on their own. Tastefully-done neuromodulators and fillers incur no downtime, but the results are great and help build confidence.
Dr. Cohen: As society has become more accepting of cosmetic surgery, men are no longer as afraid to seek out treatments. Although they are much more discrete than women and at times need a little bit of encouragement, men know what they want. I have patients of all ages and professions: teenagers coming in for laser hair removal and acne treatments, men in their 30s and 40s undergoing liposuction and CoolSculpting treatments to the flanks and abdominal walls, and men in their late 40s and 50s getting eyelid rejuvenation. A few are even requesting facelifts.
For a natural appearance, less is more. That’s always my view. For example, I see a lot of personal trainers who are requesting non-invasive or minimally-invasive procedures to help tweak certain areas on the body that are refractory to diet and exercise. These same men often ask for Botox as well. Whether it’s a minimally-invasive procedure like Botox and fillers – which need to be refreshed every four to six months – or a surgery which requires more downtime but provides longer-lasting results, I expect my patients to invest in themselves.
Cover photo: Helgi Halldórsson