The number of men choosing to have cosmetic procedures surpassed 1 million last year, giving a shot in the arm to the field of cosmetic medicine.
Dr. Gross, associate clinical professor at Emory University, Atlanta, and chairman of the Georgia Composite Medical Board, sees two factors as the impetus for increasing popularity in male cosmetic procedures.
"First, a lot of the stigma of having cosmetic procedures performed has been removed. There's wider acceptance, in general, of people having cosmetic procedures performed.
"The main reason that most people have cosmetic surgery is that when they look better, they feel better about themselves," he says. "Some of this is also driven by the media. People see images on TV, billboards and in advertisements. They see that idealized face or body and like what they see."
Some men are also being driven to make improvements to their appearance to stay competitive in the tight job market.
"The other concern we hear frequently is that because of competition in the workplace, people feel that they need to look younger to maintain a competitive edge," Dr. Gross says. "I often hear patients say, 'Look, I'm 50 and I work with 30-year-olds. I need to look as young and as good as I can, to stay competitive in the workplace with younger people.'"
Part of that pressure may stem from the economic downturn of 2008, when competition for available jobs got even tougher. Now that the economy appears to be rebounding, Dr. Gross says he sees demand increasing again.
"In my own practice, invasive procedures like liposuction went down with the economy, accompanied by an increase in smaller, less-invasive treatments like Botox and filler injections. Patients seemed less inclined to schedule more expensive procedures, but more likely to opt for less costly ones.
"I would say that in the last one or two years, the pendulum is swinging back the other way. We see more people interested in doing surgical procedures because the economy has turned around a little bit."
According to Dr. Gross, the concerns of men are the same concerns as those of female patients, although he says men require a bit different approach.
"They want to look younger. They want to look more healthy and vibrant," he says. "They aren't any less sensitive to having too-obvious results; you have to be careful with any patient. You don't want to create a situation where people look at your patient and ask, 'What did you have done and who did that to you?' Both men and women are concerned about that."
The difference may come in the goal of the procedure.
"When we inject Botox into a woman's forehead, she may want her eyebrows to be elevated and arched, but a man definitely isn't going to want that. So we do treat men and women differently," Dr. Gross says. "We have to tailor our treatment to make sure that when we treat men, we don't make them look more like women."
Although he doesn't do nearly as many facelifts on men, Dr. Gross says those, too, are growing in popularity. He also says men are having intense pulsed light treatments for blood vessels and brown spots on the face, and laser hair removal on their bodies in growing numbers. Although the number of men using fillers is increasing, Dr. Gross says that in his practice, those seeking fillers are nowhere near the number of men who want Botox.
Alexander S. Gross, M.D., in Cumming, Ga., has treated male cosmetic dermatology patients for 15 years, but he says the number has increased from less than 5 percent to at least 10 percent of his cosmetic practice over the past five years.
While many dermatologists treat patients with Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA, Allergan) and fillers, Dr. Gross says he offers a wide range of cosmetic procedures including liposuction and short-incision facelifts. He says he has seen an increase in demand in the whole range of offerings for men.
"Botox is probably the most common treatment I do for men, particularly in the forehead, glabellar complex and crow's feet areas," he says. "But liposuction is definitely growing in popularity — that's the most frequent surgical procedure I do on men.
"We do a lot of tumescent liposuction on the midsection and love handles. We also do the neck and male breast — those are very popular, as well."
Although the number of men undergoing cosmetic procedures increased only 2 percent in the past year, specific procedures took significant jumps in popularity, according to figures released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons — and many of those treatments come under the purview of dermatologists as well as plastic surgeons.
Some of the biggest percentage increases came in the more popular, minimally invasive procedures that also rank among the highest in actual numbers, such as:
- Botulinum toxin A, up 9 percent, to 337,000 men;
- Laser hair removal, up 4 percent, to 165,000 men;
- Dermabrasion, up 4 percent, to 158,000 men;
- Soft tissue fillers, up 10 percent, to 78,000 men;
- Liposuction, up 7 percent, to 24,000 men.