Man makeovers: The changing face of cosmetic treatments for men

Increasingly Irish males are investing in cosmetic procedures, with Botox, nose jobs, eye lifts and breast tissue reduction topping the list, says Áilin Quinlan.

COSMETIC ‘tweakments’ which make men look younger are more accessible than ever. 

They also deliver results, which is why an increasing number of men are no longer prepared to put up with eye bags, moobs or receding hairlines.

The growing pressure to look good in a competitive workplace where fitness and youthful looks are all important also contribute to the impetus. 

And let’s not forget that men have a string of role models in high-profile personalities like Martin Clunes, Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, James Nesbitt, Wayne Rooney and Aonghus McAnally, who have had work of some sort done, whether it’s Botox, a hair transplant or bags removed from under the eyes.

More and more Irish men of all ages are looking for cosmetic help, agrees Dr Labros Chatzis, a consultant plastic surgeon with the River Medical group, which has clinics in Dublin, Cork, Kildare and Belfast.

BEFORE: Aonghus McAnally, on the set of TG4’s Fir Bolg, was about 80% bald before his hair transplant. Picture: Brian Reddin

He’s worked with everyone from 19-year-olds seeking gynaecomastia to 68-year-olds in search of procedures like Botox or blepharoplasty — but it’s not vanity which drives most men, he believes, it’s more to do with body image which has seen the number of men seeking help with their appearance steadily rising over the past decade.

Top of the list for today’s men, he says, are procedures such as Botox which smooths out wrinkles and contributes to a more youthful appearance, rhinoplasty, where the nose is tweaked to make its shape more attractive or the youth-enhancing blepharoplasty (eyelid lifts, upper and lower) along with chest reduction or gynaecomastia. 

Gynaecomastia, explains Dr Chatzis, can be required as a result of excess breast tissue or excess fat in the chest area or both — the condition can be genetic or it can result from obesity.

AFTER: Aonghus now feels much more confident following the procedure and is on a course of tablets to maintain his hair. Picture: Moya Nolan.

“I’ve dealt with men from age of 19 for something like gynecomastia to men of 68 who want Botox or blepharoplasty.

“There’s a steady demand for cosmetic surgery from male clients,” he adds. 

Men make up between 10% and 15% of his Botox clients, between 20 and 25% of clients seeking rhinoplasty and about 10% of those opting for blepharoplasty. 

"About 30 men a year seek out his services for gynecomastia or surgery to tackle the problem of man boobs.

Men are opting for treatments in part because they’re increasingly aware that solutions to such problems are available.

“In in the last 10 years I have seen the number of men coming for surgery increase steadily — I believe this is because they are more aware of the solutions to the issue and because the macho attitude of ‘I don’t care how I look’ is either gone or going,” says Dr Chatzis. 

However, it’s “not vanity. It’s very much about their own body image. A man with a chest like a woman is out of the ordinary and he wants to get it fixed.”

Men are usually very good patients, he adds. 

“They don’t come in with false expectations and they don’t ask for things that cannot be attained — for example, they don’t go around trying to become clones of a celebrity, which is something that I find with some female patients.”

Though men still only account for an estimated 15% of his clients, Dr Patrick Treacy, medical director of the Ailesbury Clinics and chairman of the Irish Association of Cosmetic Doctors, also says demand is growing.

Partly it’s down to the pressures of social media, partly because young single women tend to be attracted to more metro-sexual looking males — and partly, he says, because the procedures really work.

“They are after the results and it’s like everything else — if it didn’t work you wouldn’t be in business very long. Around 90% of procedures now are aesthetic medicine, or non-invasive,” he says.

These include Botox (which can generally cost between €250 and €450 depending on how much you require) and youth-enhancing plumping-up dermal fillers, which can cost up to €350. 

Men are also opting for liposuction, which costs from about €3,500, while hair transplants can cost from €10,000 upwards.

Men are getting ‘work’ done on their eyes and noses. If they want to compete in the workplace they will have work that makes them look younger, not better, says Dr Treacy.

Men will go for Botox, for example, in order to iron out wrinkles and make them look younger and fresher, while they also opt for dermal fillers, which, he says “can take five to 10 years off you.”

In terms of surgery, he comments, blepharoplasty — which costs from around €3,500 upwards — and rhinoplasty, which costs up to €7,550 — are the two most popular treatments sought by men.

Having hair transplant surgery is a big decision, given that it can cost between €10,000 and €15,000. 

It is the price range quoted by Maurice Collins, a former ear, nose and throat surgeon who began providing the service at his Hair Restoration Clinic in the Dublin suburb of Blackrock around 15 years ago.

Although when he started to provide the service, he initially presumed hair transplant surgery was mostly about vanity, recalls Dr Collins, he quickly discovered, he says, that it had far more to do with self-esteem. 

When he first started carrying out hair transplant surgeries, he says, he was taken aback by the psychological benefits being reported by his clients — and that feedback about the benefits, he says, is something that continues to this day.

“Very few men will say they feel that they look better as a result, but a lot of them comment on how it has improved their self-esteem and self -confidence,” he says. 

“I always thought it was a vanity thing, but vanity does not actually enter the issue at all. It’s very much about self-confidence and self-esteem and peace of mind.”

His oldest patient to date was aged 83 — though the vast majority are in their 30s and 40s worried about receding hairlines and what they might mean down the road. 

“The vast majority of people would be men who are thinning out or balding and who don’t want to go bald.”

However, men in their 20s and even some still in their teens arrive in his clinic fretting about the hair loss coming down the tracks. 

“There will usually be a father or an uncle who had hair loss themselves and the young man is aware that it is in the family and might be conscious of it.”

Hair loss, he explains, is a slowly progressive condition which usually starts with receding hairline at the temples, while hair loss will also progress in the crown of the head.

“I meet a lot of men in their 40s who don’t want to become bald — they know it’s coming down the tracks and they want to do something before it becomes a problem.”

The cost of a hair transplant at the clinic is €10 per hair graft transplanted — there is on average, two hairs in each graft, and although there is no medication required to maintain the transplanted hair, some patients do take medication to slow down hair loss in the remainder of their hair, as hair loss is a progressive condition.

And what’s the reason for the breathtaking cost of hair-transplant surgery?

The answer is simple — it’s labour intensive.

“We’ll have a team of 18 people working on a patient for a 10 to 12 hour period,” says Dr Collins.

The desire to compete at work and to build self-esteem, rather than vanity, seem to be the main reasons why men to opt for a cosmetic treatment or a hair transplant. And if it makes you look better and feel better, what’s the problem?


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