There are three things guys generally don’t talk about with one another: the last time they cried, favorite episodes of Girls, and whether they’ve had cosmetic procedures.
“I can’t go to Bob at the gym and say, ‘Hey, Bob, you look good. What did you do?’” says Seth Matarasso, MD, a board-certified surgeon and clinical professor of dermatology at the UCSF School of Medicine. “Men are a little gun-shy in querying about what’s available.”
But the reality is that the number of cosmetic procedures performed on men has increased 273 percent since 1997, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Yet men still account for only about one in 10 cosmetic-procedure patients. With that dearth of personal experience, not to mention the reluctance with which guys generally talk about it, men tend to find themselves at an information deficit about cosmetic procedures.
“Men don’t have the resources to find out what’s new,” says Matarasso.
We’re here to help. While you may have heard of Botox, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and other well-known procedures, there are some others you may not know as much about that could help you, say, do something about your love handles, remove your tattoos, or streamline your jawline. Here are five worth investigating and the problems they help solve:
1. Excess chin fat: Kybella
A new injectable helps guys clean up their jawlines. (Photo Kybella)
Despite what it may sound like, Kybella is not a hot new Hollywood exercise routine. It’s a relatively new injectable designed to get rid of that annoying fat below the chin that can obscure that square, Jon Hamm-like jawline to which so many guys aspire.
“If you put five pounds of fat on Don Draper’s neck, you’re not going to see that jawline,” says Leslie Baumann, MD, a dermatologist in Miami who has seen a dramatic rise in the number of men coming to her office asking for Kybella.
“The neck fat in the area under the chin bothers men more than anything else,” she says. “I think that’s why this is such a popular treatment for men.”
Kybella is an injectable version of the very substance our bodies make to dissolve fat. When injected (by a qualified health care professional) carefully into the neck area, the drug has been found to effectively destroy the fat cells lurking in the neck.
“You inject it once a month and then you lose fat and the skin starts to tighten up,” says Baumann, who participated in Kybella’s FDA trials and now trains doctors to administer it. After the healing period, she says the results are remarkable. “You get your jawline back,” she says.
Potential downsides: “You get swelling for about two weeks,” says Baumann. The FDA says the most common side effects include “swelling, bruising, pain, numbness, redness, and areas of hardness in the treatment area.”
Typical cost: From $2,400 to $7,200
2. Flabby thighs and midsection: UltraShape
UltraShape helps zap the fat under the skin — unlike this retro product. (Photo: Getty Images)
UltraShape’s Israeli makers tout it as “the first and only noninvasive body shaping treatment that uses pulsed focused ultrasound energy” to target fat without harming surrounding tissue, nerves, and muscles.
”[UltraShape] uses ultrasound waves that shake the fat so fast that it bursts,“ explains Baumann. “It is the greatest thing ever because it doesn’t leave any marks on your body.”
UltraShape is administered via a handpiece a qualified technician rubs over your trouble spots to send painless ultrasound waves to the fat underneath the skin. “The girls who do it for me are good at video games,” laughs Baumann. “It’s like [the 1980s game] Galaga!”
The steady “zap!” of the ultrasound waves bursts the fat, which the body then safely removes. Baumann says patients have been found to lose an average of two inches of circumference in treated areas after three painless sessions.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she says, contrasting UltraShape to other noninvasive body contouring treatments that damage fat with either extreme cold or extreme heat — treatments some patients find uncomfortable. “There’s no bruising. It’s really safe.”
Potential downsides: Like all such procedures, UltraShape is not a diet and exercise replacement, so don’t expect instant abs. “You have to have a six-pack underneath the fat [for UltraShape to work],” says Baumann. “You still have to do sit-ups.”
Typical cost: About $2,400 to $3,600 for three treatments
3. Flabby thighs and midsection: SculpSure
A before-and-after pic of a SculpSure patient six weeks post-procedure. (Photo: SculpSure)
Another member of the noninvasive body contouring family, SculpSure is essentially a laser fired at your skin. Don’t worry — it’s not quite as Goldfinger as it sounds.
“SculpSure works with a laser that heats the fat to a very high temperature,” explains Harry Glassman, MD, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. “It does so in pulses of heat for 20 seconds and then cools your skin for 10 seconds.” The cooling part of the process is for the patient’s comfort. The damage to the fat is done during the heating portion.
“The heat is targeted toward the fat,” says Glassman. In addition to melting the fat, the treatment programs those fat cells to die over a period of time. “You usually see about a 25 to 30 percent reduction [of fat] in about six to eight weeks,” he says.
Not only can this treatment spare patients the surgical risks of liposuction, but Glassman says it comes with other advantages. “There’s no recovery [period],” he says. “People who have SculpSure can resume their life immediately following the procedure.“
He also says it’s faster than the noninvasive alternatives. “It only takes about 25 minutes,” he says, “as opposed to prior generations of noninvasive body contouring, which take hours.”
Potential downsides: “There’s usually a little bit of mild swelling for a couple of days,” says Glassman. “Some people have a mild degree of tenderness for about a week after we do it.”
Typical cost: About $1,000 to $1,500 per treated area
4. Armpit sweat: Botox
A little Botox in the underarms? No sweat! (Photo: Getty Images)
By now, just about everyone has heard of the famous antiwrinkle injectable Botox (aka botulinum toxin). What you may not know is that it’s not just for wrinkles anymore; Botox has been approved by the FDA to treat that nasty, shirt-soaking sweating you may do.
“It reduces what’s called hyperhidrosis, which is excess sweating,” says Matarasso. “You put a superficial injection of Botox into the armpit and there’s a dramatic reduction in sweat.” He says no one seems to know exactly why Botox has such an effect on underarm sweat. But doctors theorize it paralyzes the muscle surrounding the sweat gland, inhibiting the gland’s ability to produce sweat.
However it works, it seems to do the job. “It’s a remarkably safe and effective treatment,” says Matarasso.
Potential downsides: In addition to Botox’s reported side effects, there’s one big downside if you don’t like needles. “Eight to 10 shots in each armpit — very painful,” says New York City TV personality and NaughtyGossip.com founder Rob Shuter. He had the procedure after TV producers told him he was sweating buckets on camera.
“But be warned: [Botox] doesn’t stop you from sweating,” he says. “It just means you sweat in different places!” A possible alternative may be a relatively new treatment called MiraDry, which also fights underarm sweat with microwave energy instead of a needle.
Typical cost: Around $1,000
5. Tattoo removal: Picosecond lasers
Picosecond lasers such as PicoSure represent the next generation in laser mistake removal. (Photo: PicoSure)
Laser tattoo removal really is just a matter of seconds — specifically, the length of the pulse emitted by the laser.
“The wavelength of the laser is absorbed by that tattoo particle,” says Jeremy Brauer, MD, a Manhattan dermatologist. “[The laser] fractures or ruptures the ink and ultimately you rely upon your body to remove the particles of ink.”
Nanosecond lasers used to be the gold standard in tattoo removal. Now, next-generation picosecond lasers are changing the game. “The picosecond is a shorter pulse duration that disrupts the ink in the skin differently than a nanosecond pulse duration laser does,” explains Brauer, who uses PicoSure, one of the picosecond tattoo removal lasers on the market. “If you can imagine a nanosecond laser breaking [the ink] down into little pebbles, a picosecond laser can get it down to granules of sand.”
Plus, picosecond lasers are particularly effective against certain colors. “Blues and greens, which notoriously have been the most difficult colors to treat, have now become among the easiest,” says Brauer, who adds that the faster laser has shortened the length of treatment. “Whereas we used to tell people it could take anywhere from 10 to 20 sessions to clear a tattoo, PicoSure lasers have sped that up and shortened the number of treatments required,” he says.
Potential downsides: “You’ll leave a little red and swollen,” Brauer says. “You can get anything from redness and swelling to blistering, crusting. With the PicoSure laser there’s less of that. There’ll still be some of that, but to a lesser degree. With any laser, there’s always the risk of change of pigmentation as well. We always do our best to try to minimize those.”
Typical cost: About $500 to $1,000