Face It
5 things guys should know about cosmetic surgery
By Lisa Fields

If you’re a guy who’s been thinking about seeing a cosmetic surgeon, you’re not alone. Nowadays, women aren’t the only ones looking for a little extra help with their appearance – men are joining the party too.

“The number of men we are seeing has been increasing every year I’ve been in practice,” says Lyle Back, MD, a cosmetic surgeon in Cherry Hill. “It’s been a 250 percent increase over the past 10 years.”

“The image of men has changed,” adds Charlotte Markey, PhD, professor of psychology at Rutgers-Camden, who studies body-image issues. “It does seem that men care more about looking youthful now than they used to, perhaps because there are options available to make them look youthful. Cosmetic surgery is more affordable, more normative, less novel. Twenty years ago, you might not have known people who had undergone surgery. It wasn’t advertised in magazines. But increasingly, it’s become acceptable.”

If you’re considering a visit to the cosmetic surgeon but haven’t worked up the nerve to make an appointment, this info may help:

1. You’re not alone.

Ten or 20 years ago, male cosmetic surgery was nearly unheard of. (In fact, if a man requested plastic surgery decades ago, he would routinely be referred for psychiatric evaluation.)

But in recent years, a steady trickle of men have been finding their way to cosmetic surgeons. Nationwide, the number of cosmetic procedures in men rose 106 percent from 1997 to 2012, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Although only about 10 percent of the cosmetic procedures performed nationwide today are done on men, those figures are expected to continue rising.

“A big part of why those numbers are increasing is so many things we offer are non-surgical,” Back says. “Men tend to favor the seamless, the easy, the come-into-the-office-and-leave-and-they’re-done kind of stuff. It’s actually made it easier for a lot of people – and not just men – who might not have sought out cosmetic procedures because surgery was involved.”

More people may be inclined to seek cosmetic surgery or minimally invasive procedures because they’re widely discussed on TV talk shows, in magazines, on social media and among friends.

“Our society has evolved quite a bit in its tolerance of what it can accept,” Back says. “Anything that anyone would want to do to make themselves feel better, look better, give themselves more confidence, I think most people are like, ‘Yeah, go ahead.’ Prior, that might have been more the way of women, but that has extended to men. And men are feeling more comfortable about saying, ‘Hey, this really bothers me.’”

2. No one has to know.

Cosmetic surgeons understand male patients may be hesitant to let others know they’re having work done, and they’re willing to help you keep the secret. Back has a rear entrance to his office, which he offers to patients who need to keep a low profile. He sometimes schedules procedures for earlier-than-normal hours so his waiting room will be empty when a patient seeking discretion arrives for an appointment.

Male patients are different than female patients in this regard, Back says. Many men maintain secrecy about their cosmetic procedures among friends, coworkers and even family members.

“I think that particular aspect is lagging a little bit behind the women,” Back says. “There was a good chunk of time in the U.S. when no ‘real men’ would get cosmetic surgery, and the women would keep it a secret. Now, not only is everyone getting it, the women want to tell you every detail of what they had done. Men – now they’re OK getting it, but there’s still a little bit of reluctance to talk about it amongst the men.”

3. Some procedures can be done on your lunch break.

The top two procedures for both men and women in South Jersey and nationwide are Botox injections (Botulinum Toxin Type A) and fillers (hyaluronic acid).

“The big procedures that men are seeking really have to do with the face and maintaining a look of natural youth and vigor,” Back says. “Botox can give them an awake, refreshed look that lasts for months. And filler for the face can soften lines and wrinkles without needing surgery.”

Because Botox and fillers are minimally invasive procedures, it’s possible to have work done during your lunch break and consider returning to work for the afternoon.

“A patient can have treatment over their lunch hour,” Back says. “The only signs may be some redness, swelling or puffiness.”

If you’re less intrepid, you might opt to leave work an hour early on a Friday afternoon. By Monday morning, no one at work will notice any telltale signs of a visit to the cosmetic surgeon.

Botox can be used to minimize crow’s feet, frown lines and furrows in the forehead. Your doctor will examine the wrinkles you want to minimize, and then determine which muscles in your face should be targeted. Botox will temporarily paralyze those muscles, preventing them from furrowing or wrinkling. No anesthesia is necessary, and you may be in and out of the doctor’s office within 20 minutes.

Fillers can be used to soften creases, remove wrinkles and fill in sunken areas on your face. Before your doctor does the injection, he’ll numb the skin, either with a topical cream or with a cooling agent.

You may feel a pinch during the injections. Afterward, you’ll be given ice to reduce swelling and any pain. You may feel sore at the injection sites for a day or two.

4. Expect to shell out some cash (and not for a co-pay).

If you’re expecting to look younger for the cost of a minimal copay, think again: Health insurance typically doesn’t cover cosmetic procedures. But minimally invasive procedures like Botox and fillers are priced so most people who seek the procedure can afford it. Many cosmetic surgery practices offer financing as a payment option.

“Pricing varies by the patient and that patient’s needs and concerns,” Back says. “Botox pricing starts at $350 and up, and facial filler pricing starts at $600 and up.”

5. Expect change right away.

Many doctors have initial consultations with patients and ask them to come back to the office for procedures. But for certain minimally invasive procedures like Botox and fillers, you can meet with your new doctor and have work done during your first appointment.

During the initial consultation, cosmetic surgeons try to understand the reasoning behind a patient’s desire to change before agreeing to proceed.

“I feel it’s critical to understand what they expect to get out of it,” Back says. Often,“they say, ‘I’ve got one life. I want to enjoy it. Make me feel good about myself.’”

June 2015
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