Why are so many men turning to cosmetic surgery?

Anxious to keep their jobs, men aged 35 to 50 are using Botox to banish their wrinkles, brow lines and so-called crows’ feet. Others are resorting to surgery to look toned, youthful and less stressed, says Áilín Quinlan.

Why are so many men turning to cosmetic surgery?

AMBITIOUS executives are undergoing cosmetic treatments to banish wrinkles and so-called crows’ feet and tighten baggy eyelids — so as to look younger and less stressed and keep their jobs.

Even members of the police force and the emergency services who are fit and toned are paying large sums to have their natural ‘man boobs’ removed.

Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Bruce Jenner, Burt Reynolds, Kenny Rogers and Barry Manilow have reputedly ‘had work done’ to enhance their appearance — but it’s increasingly acceptable for the average man to do so.

“They’re using Botox for crow’s feet, at the sides of their eyes, when they smile, and for lines on their forehead,” says top beauty consultant, Bronwyn Conway.

“If they sweat excessively, they’re using Botox under the arms to prevent sweat patches appearing on their office shirts.

“They’re getting full sets of veneers on their teeth.

“They’re using fillers for any lines around the mouth and the lower half of the face.

“It’s a combination of vanity and the pressure to look perfect. It starts with waxing their chest hair and grooming their eyebrows, nails and having facials,.

“This ups the ante and they’re looking at themselves closely — then they’re having a couple of ‘injectibles’. It’s a succession of steps,” she says.

Some men are even tattooing on eyebrows.

Conway knows a number of men who get fillers and Botox to look younger, including, she says, one happily married man, with a young family, who had Botox in his forehead because he didn’t like the wrinkles.

“His wife is completely unaware of this, and she would kill him if she knew, because she’d think it’s ridiculous,” she says.

In Ireland, although women still account for the lion’s share of cosmetic procedures, according to the experts, image-conscious men are jumping on the band-wagon.

Increasingly, middle-aged men — particularly those at a high level in the embattled corporate sector or in the media — are opting for Botox treatments.

Others are undergoing liposuction or having extra skin on their eyelids — upper and lower — removed to look more fresh-faced.

“I am getting a lot of men looking for Botox in their foreheads and for the crows’ feet on the sides of their eyes,” says consultant plastic surgeon, Labros Chatzis, who says his patients range between 35 and 50 years of age.

This was not common 10 years ago.

Mr Chatzis says the trend is being driven by female partners.

“Quite a lot come in with their wives or girlfriends and, because the women have had it done, and the men see it is working, they come in themselves.

“They don’t like showing wrinkles. They dislike the fact of ageing.

“They come and get it done every four to six months,” he says, adding that male clients in this category range from young executives to company directors, people who work in the TV and media and quite a few VIPs.

“You’d be amazed how many of the people you see on the TV have Botox — a lot of very common faces pop in once every six months to have their shot.”

And they are prepared to pay between €250 and €500 per session.

Older professionals are requesting blepharoplasty, the removal of extra skin on their eyelids.

“These would usually be professional men, senior managers. A lot of them work in places where they feel they need to look young, because you have to look young to be successful.

“They would be under pressure. Even if you are the managing director of a big company, it isn’t trendy to look wrinkly,”Mr Chatzis says.

Ageism is a driving force for men in certain areas of the workforce, says Dr Patrick Treacy, cosmetic dermatologist and medical director of Dublin’s Ailesbury Clinic, who sees “about 1,000” men per year.

Males make up around 10% of his business and always have, he says, “usually men from their mid-20s upwards,” who are seeking everything from Botox to chin and cheek implants.

When jobs are under threat, says Treacy, there is a social expectation that the younger you look, the fresher or more capable you are.

“It’s ageism. Society tends to favour the young — particularly in terms of a recession,” he says, adding that since the recession people have moved towards the lower-priced cosmetic medical procedures, such as Botox or fillers, rather than face-lifts.

However, for many men it’s not necessarily about looking younger — it’s often about looking less stressed, says consultant plastic surgeon, Margaret O’Donnell.

Non-surgical treatments, such as Botox, fillers and lasers, are common, Ms O’Donnell says — for example, deep furrows in the forehead can make a man look as if he is frowning, so Botox is a popular treatment, while laser treatment, to remove acne scars or red veins, on the face and around the nose, is also common.

“Men don’t usually want to look younger — it’s about looking less worried and less stressed,” she says.

Lines between the eyebrows may make them look “angry, cross, tired or worried,” says Ms O’Donnell, who is president of the Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons.

The lack of statistics on the number of men — or, indeed, the number of patients receiving cosmetic surgery treatments in Ireland overall — makes it difficult to establish how the industry is changing.

However, Ms O’Donnell says, in Ireland the most popular surgical treatments for men are blepharoplasty, rhinoplasty (to change the shape and size of the nose) and gynecomastia surgery (male breast reduction).

Cosmetic treatments are a “generational thing” for both men and women, particularly for those in their 30s and 40s, says Ms O’Donnell, adding, however, that the client base is generally still around 90% female and 10% male.

One of the most common problems for which treatment is being sought by men, says Mr Chatzis, is true gynecomastia, which costs about €7,000.

True gynecomastia is where naturally-occurring ‘man-boobs’ are caused by glandular tissue, as opposed to gynecomastia, which is caused by the accumulation of excess fatty tissue.

Years ago, men might have been too embarrassed to discuss the problem — but now they will openly talk about it and investigate possible solutions, Mr Chatzis says.

“Before, they would have been very cagey about it, but now they’re a lot more open.

“A man might be 22 or 23 and have a perfect body; he may be very fit, but when he takes his top off he might be embarrassed, not just with his partner, but in the changing room when he plays sport.

“I have treated young men who play sports and would be very concerned and I have had men who are big, muscled, tough men; men in the police and emergency services who have true gynecomastia,” he says.

“They would be very fit, toned and muscled and they have that problem, which is an embarrassment.”

Over the past 10 years, Mr Chatzis has noticed a growth in demand for both gynecomastia operations and Botox — ten years ago, he says, he might have done two or three gynecomastia operations in a year, now he’s doing two or three a month, primarily, he says, because men are more open to researching the problem and seeking possible solutions.

Younger men, between 19 and the mid-30s, also want nose jobs, says Mr Chatzis — about 50% of which result from injuries caused while playing sports.

At a cost of €6,000, such men want to improve or even reverse the impact of injuries to their noses — injuries that may affect the shape of the nose, or even make them snore louder.

Then, there are men who simply want the shape of their noses changed or its size reduced.

Other procedures popular with male clients are liposuction — usually at the sides of the body for younger men — and correction procedures for overly prominent ears.

Cosmetic procedures are no longer just a girl thing — earlier this year, a report by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) found that the biggest rise in demand among men was for breast reduction to eliminate ‘man boobs’ or ‘moobs’ — an increase of nearly 25%, while there was a 28% rise of male demand for liposuction.

Feargal Breen: Botox treatment

A technology consultant with an e-learning company in Dublin’s Financial Services Centre, Feargal Breen has been having Botox for several years — since his late 20s in fact.

“I didn’t have a huge amount of lines — for me, it was a kind of age-defence.”

Now in his late ’30s, Feargal has had a number of Botox injections at the Ailesbury Clinic and credits the treatment with stopping the formation of wrinkles and crows’ feet:

“I started with Botox in my forehead and on either side of my eyes. It wasn’t horrendously expensive.

“I was a bit nervous, initially, but it didn’t hurt at all. I was very pleased with the result and, about a year later, I went back for another round.

“I still go back every year or two, for Botox.

“I didn’t have crows’ feet when I first went, and I still don’t. I want to continue that way.

“I think the Botox actually stopped the formation of crows’ feet and wrinkles.”

However, when he first considered having treatment, he thoroughly researched his options.

“I checked out different specialists. People should be careful about doing their research. If someone is going to stick a needle in my face, I want to know that they are experienced and know what they’re doing.”

Younger men, what he refers to as “the David Beckham generation”, don’t tend to have a problem with the idea of cosmetic treatments, he says, though he believes older men would still be embarrassed about it.

Breen believes David Beckham’s underwear commercials, for example, have helped remove taboos about males wanting to be attractive.

“For younger guys, there’s no big deal about having cosmetic treatment — if I was to go into work and ask if anyone wanted a free Botox procedure, the older men would look embarrassed — but the younger guys would say ‘give it to me now and what’s the catch’,” Feargal says.

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