Male cosmetic procedures: face up to them, guys

More men are having facial surgery and Botox, particularly those in their fifties. But why, and what are they having done? Daniela Soave investigates

Recent reports show a growth in the number of men having cosmetic procedures and surgery to enhance their looks. In the US, plastic surgery on men rose by two per cent in the past year. The incidence of men having Botox treatments increased nine oer cent. The trend is being repeated here in the UK, especially among 50-plus males.

“If you had suggested to me five years ago that there would have been an increase in this sector of the market, I would have laughed, because it was not that common,” says cosmetic and dental reconstructive surgeon Dr Bob Khanna.

“In this country it has been a macho thing not to groom. And for those who have, it has often carried a stigma.

“But now, sportsmen such as David Beckham, Gavin Henson and Aussie alpha-male Shane Warren are all at the top of their game and proud of their appearance. It puts out the message that it’s OK to look after yourself and look your best.

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The media pressure to look good – and the rise of Facebook and Twitter, where you’re much more on display – all play a part

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“There is also media pressure to look good, and the rise of Facebook and Twitter, where you’re much more on display. I think that has exacerbated the rise in men coming to see us.”

So, leaving aside the less common moobs-reduction and tummy tucks – and, yes, men want them too – what are the most popular procedures for men? Cosmetically, eyelid surgery is the most common. Younger men tend to fix more obvious issues, such as having prominent ears pinned back and broken noses re-set.

Surgery to change your appearance carries the same risks as any surgery. Think about the dangers before deciding to have it, and choose a surgeon carefully. BAPRAS warns that not everyone carrying out cosmetic surgery has been trained as a plastic surgeon.

Seeing the effects of neglect

In the case of non-invasive procedures, the phrase ‘bring it on’ springs to mind. Now that men have grasped the nettle, they want it all. Botox, fillers, retinoid treatments and skin peels have gone up enormously among 50-just men, says consultant plastic surgeon Kevin Hancock.

Men our age are experiencing the effects that smoking, sun exposure, shaving and a lack of moisturising has wreaked on their skin, and they want to do something about it. “Men, unlike women, haven’t been trained to look after their skin,” says Hancock. “By the time they reach 50 they start to see all the effects of neglect.”

Dr Bob agrees: “Botox is big in this age range. I regularly see men over 50 and they want me to sort out their wrinkles. They like a little bit of filler to fix the lines between their nose and mouth, and they don’t want lines on their foreheads or round their eyes.

“They want to turn back the clock, but they don’t want to look fake. I can help preserve an individual’s personality. Some men might be a little nervous before having it done, but afterwards they are thankful and reassured.

“I can’t think of one patient who hasn’t returned for more. They experience looking good and feeling better, and come back every few months to repeat the procedure.”

Patients often come in their lunch hour or after work. Face plumping takes about 30 minutes and involves a series of tiny injections under the skin to plump up the tissues with collagen. According to Dr Bob, once men have become comfortable with coming to his practice and seeing what else is on offer, they sign up for such other treatments as chemical peels and skin therapies.

“There is a lot we can do to improve the texture and tone of skin,” he says. “Men also have to learn how to look after themselves, and my team teach them the rituals of a good skin regime. A lifetime of shaving coarsens the skin, so it needs work to soften, hydrate and rejuvenate it.”

Kevin Hancock routinely sees 50-plus men who want work done on their eyes. “Facelifts in this country are still uncommon for men, whereas eyelid surgery gives you relatively more bang for your buck. The scars are acceptable and fade well. You’ve got to remember that men, unlike women, can’t use make-up to camouflage any scars.

“In terms of general facial appearance, the eyes are the first point of contact, and if you improve their appearance you give the illusion that the rest of your face is OK, too.

“Media awareness has taken away the stigma of cosmetic surgery for men and women. It never used to be something that chaps did, but now it has become acceptable.”