Historically speaking, the majority of plastic surgery patients has skewed heavily female, but as we fast-forward to today’s world of innovative new treatments and procedures requiring less time off, the male-to-female ratio is dramatically changing the landscape. “My practice over the last five years has gone from 10 percent men to 40 percent men,” says Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, celebrity cosmetic dermatologist and founder of the PFRANKMD brand and PFRANKMD Skin Salon, in New York. “There is a destigmatization of cosmetic procedures due to the improvement in technology, safety, and lack of downtime. The younger generation of men are being raised culturally to learn that many of these treatments are an ‘expected form of grooming.’ ” Dr. Frank says that among the most popular treatments requested by men are procedures that remove sun damage, localized fat removal, and injectables for the eye area. Case in point: Jonathan, a 50-year-old patient of Dr. Frank’s who works in online retail, says he first considered the thought of cosmetic procedures to keep up with others. “I have long hours and work with a lot of young people,” he says. “I wanted to continue to look and feel as youthful as possible.” After consulting with Dr. Frank, Jonathan decided on skin tightening with Ultherapy (a high-intensity focused ultrasound that uses nonionizing ultrasonic waves to heat tissue) to improve his neck and jawline, Fraxel laser treatments to rid his skin of sunspots, and Emsculpt (a noninvasive fat reduction treatment that simultaneously boosts muscle mass) to bring back his abdominal definition, which had become covered with a “frustrating bit of fat” that wouldn’t go away with exercise. And he’s certainly not alone: Jonathan says many of his friends and peers have undergone similar cosmetic treatments or procedures to preserve their youth.
According to Dr. Lily Talakoub of McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center, in Virginia, who has noticed a “significant” increase in male clients, the motivation behind the trend is not necessarily about looking younger as much as it is about looking like you got a good night’s sleep. “Men feel the increased need to look refreshed, not necessarily younger—for instance, they ask to treat their forehead lines so they don’t look angry, or for fillers under their eyes so they look less tired,” she says. “Competition in the workforce is driving them to look their best.” Dr. Frank agrees. “Men have a different thought process about these procedures,” he says. “They do it not necessarily to be more attractive—they do it to appear less tired or stressed, more competitive and virile.”
Dr. Talakoub says Botox is by far one of the most popular treatments men come to her for thus far, though she expects an increase in body treatments moving forward. “Men like low-downtime procedures and those that have no side effects,” she says. “Unlike some women who can cover a bruise with makeup, men often can’t. Body treatments like CoolSculpting can get rid of stubborn waistlines or muffin tops. It’s a no-downtime, no-needles procedure that no one will know they had.”
Downtime, it seems, is a big player for male clientele in the decision to undergo treatments. “Men like quick fixes and treatments with less maintenance,” says Dr. Frank. “Women are more patient and are used to maintenance, so the psychology in discussing options is different between the two.”
As for men’s willingness to divulge their nip/tuck secrets? That is a work in progress. “Men are much more likely to be secretive about their procedures,” says Dr. Talakoub. “Women are more open now, given the increase in social media and media coverage and the ease with which these are done, but it still isn’t as acceptable for men, so they like procedures that go unnoticed.” As for Jonathan, though, his lips aren’t entirely sealed, which may foreshadow the future as male treatments become more mainstream. “I don’t openly discuss it, but I certainly won’t deny it,” he says. “Just like watching my diet and exercise, I am proud to do whatever I can to stay fit and feel young.”
Main photo: Bartholomew Cooke/Trunk Archive