“I’m seeing male patients who feel they have to hide cosmetic appointments from wives, secretly stash their money to pay for treatments, and book procedures while family is away.” (Photo: Getty Images)
The sad news of the suicide of dermatologist-to-the-stars Dr. Fredric Brandt has shed a spotlight on the hushed world of male cosmetic surgery, and the stigma men face when electing to undergo procedures.
Brandt’s sculpted cheekbones and lineless skin defied his 65 years of age, but didn’t shield him from relentless ridicule; close friends told The New York Times that patients would pretend not to know him in public life, and that most recently, a parodic portrayal of him played by Martin Short on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” may have added strain to the depression that ultimately took his life.
And yet there is an increasing amount of men seeking rejuvenation, according to online community and purveyor of cosmetic trends, RealSelf.com, which says 72 percent of doctors surveyed reported a sizable increase in male patients in the last year, with over half of the influx coming from the ages of 24 and 44. Still, the fear of harsh social judgment has kept the phenomenon quiet. “I’m seeing male patients who feel they have to hide cosmetic appointments from wives, secretly stash their money to pay for treatments, and book procedures while family is away,” says New York City dermatologist, Doris Day, MD.
While women tend to discuss Botox and breast augmentation with close confidantes and even bring family and friends to consultations, men come alone to the office and are decisive and quick to move forward with surgery, says New York plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dana Khuthaila, MD. The Central Park South doctor has seen more men lately for liposuction, tummy tucks after significant weight loss and fillers in the jawline to achieve a stronger square and masculine look, she says.
Dermatologists are treating more men with injectables like Dysport to smooth wrinkles, along with fillers and lasers including Ultherapy that can lift sagging skin without surgery or downtime. “Because there are no lasting surgical scars, men can now discreetly improve their appearance, and that has had a strong impact in driving them in to the office to explore options,” says Day. Meanwhile, male visitors at RealSelf are most interested in CoolSculpting (a non-surgical device that eliminates body fat through controlled cooling), Invisalign, male tummy tucks and hair transplants.
Invisalign, which straightens teeth with clear removable braces, carries the least amount of social scrutiny. “Guys in their 20s don’t mind saying they want their smiles to look good, while patients in the 20 to 40 age group who are climbing the cooperate ladder see a healthy, pleasing smile as a competitive advantage,” says New York orthodontist Joseph T. Hung, DMD. For the growing subset of 50+ patients whose teeth may wear down with age and twist and push up against each other, the face and upper lip can slowly collapse without the support of straight teeth. “Re-establishing the proper angle of teeth can be like getting a facelift,” says Hung.
The approach to treating men differs from women, say our experts, who add that the “done” look is far easier to detect when the naturally thicker skin of men’s faces is overly smoothed. “Most men are goal-oriented and reasonable in their demands – moderation is key, and change can be achieved in a gradual manner,” advises Khuthaila.
Above all, Day stresses that men should do their research before hiring a board-certified doctor by viewing before and after photos of other male patients to get a sense of their work. Cosmetic surgery, after all, can be a form of art. “The goal is to optimize natural features and to create balance,” says Day.