The Man Makeover

Whether it’s the result of a youth-obsessed culture, selfie-obsessed social media or simply an improving economy, minimally invasive and reconstructive procedures have been steadily fueling the billion dollar cosmetic surgery industry.

Contributing to this sharp increase in total procedures is a change in clientele seeking out such services – specifically, men. Though women still comprise a substantial majority of the clientele, local surgeons confirm there has been a rise in the number of men booking appointments for cosmetic procedures – and a significant rise in those seeking minimally invasive cosmetic procedures.

What Men Want

The staff at the Center for Plastic Surgery in Traverse City noticed this shift in clientele just as the economy took a downturn in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of male clients increased by 15 percent at Traverse City’s Amalfi Medical Spa over the past year, and doubled in the past three years at nearby Cosmetic Skin & Laser Center.

“In 2008, cosmetic surgery in general took a pretty big hit, especially in the female population,” said Steven Thomas, M.D., board certified cosmetic surgeon and one of the associates at the Center for Plastic Surgery. “But it was surprising that for men, it increased a little bit at our practice. Some said, ‘I am working and planned on retiring, but now that I have to compete, I have to look better.’ This can’t be attributed to the economy alone, because it’s outpacing increases in female clients.”

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 11 million surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures – to the tune of more than $12 billion – were performed in the United States in 2013. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that in 2013, men represented 9 perent of the client base for such services, a 121 percent jump since 1997.

Every service in the top five minimally invasive procedures performed on men was more popular across the industry in 2012 compared with 2011: Botox procedures were up 7 percent; laser hair removal, 5 percent; microdermabrasion, 10 percent; chemical peels, 3 percent; and soft tissue fillers, 2 percent.

“We hardly ever saw male patients before for Botox or fillers,” said Thomas, who added that Botox, fillers and laser procedures for eradicating wrinkles are the most common services among the center’s male clients.

At Cosmetic Skin & Laser Center, Office Director Kelly Bolton said laser hair removal, cool sculpting (a fat freezing technology), and Botox are the office’s most popular procedures. In particular miraDry, a treatment which reduces underarm perspiration, has been a key male service at the office.

Tammi Elzinga, licensed medical aesthetician at Amalfi Medical Spa, said in addition to laser hair removal and Botox and fillers, treatments for removal of facial spider veins and brown spots are increasingly in demand.

A Man’s Face

These offices are performing procedures that were originally conceptualized and designed for the female population, however, and thus they occasionally must modify the service.

“Laser procedures were generally started with women in mind and as we start to apply them to men, we have to consider how they will affect a man’s face,” said Dr. Thomas, who as a practitioner has to take into consideration the characteristics of a man’s facial skin – typically oilier, thicker, and with heavier beard – and body contours.

Elzinga also pointed out that the muscular structure of men is different – notably stronger – than that of women, so injectables such as Botox will require higher dosages that might not last as long as they do for women.

An additional complication, noted Elzinga, is that,“Men will generally wait until things have become extreme before they seek treatment, so they may need more visits and more intense levels of treatments than women.” She recommended men begin a maintenance schedule of procedures “so that very minor things can be addressed before they become big problems.”

Though the pressure to look younger given the culture’s obsession with looking younger, some believe these procedures have increased in popularity because of consumers’ access to extensive information with one quick Google search, giving them a better understanding of what to expect from – and more interest in – these types of cosmetic procedural office visits.

“It’s becoming more and more acceptable,” Dr. Thomas said. “The lay press say that this is becoming more popular, and so men might feel now it’s more acceptable to pursue these services.”

Bolton agreed.

“It’s becoming something as common as getting a haircut or a teeth cleaning,” she said. “Men, too, now see it as general maintenance for appearance. It’s telling of the times when there’s more than one man sitting in our waiting room.”