From the tight-faced women of The Real Housewives of Orange County to the enhanced bosoms of the Jersey Shore gals, women undergoing plastic surgery is more socially rampant than ever. But what about men? While a handful of DC women, such as Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren, are happy to discuss the various nips and tucks that keep them looking fresh, most men tend to be mute on the topic. Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t undergoing procedures all the same.
Dr. Ayman Hakki, the founder and CEO of Luxxery, a plastic-surgery office in Maryland (3010 Crain Hwy., Ste. 400, Waldorf, 301-843- 9769) with a walk-in Botox boutique in Georgetown (2141 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202- 333-9294), notes he has seen a recent increase in men seeking consultation for cosmetic surgery. “Men go for things that make you look different without making you look too different,” Hakki explains. The two most common procedures: eye lifts, and liposuction on their love handles.
“Men wanting to fix their ‘tired’ eyes are the biggest portion of new male clients these days,” says Chevy Chase–based plastic surgeon Dr. Wendell Gordon Miles. “The biggest uptick I have noticed is in men moving up in their careers. The thought of interviewing against younger competitors seems to motivate them to come in for consultations.” The men vary in age, but, as Miles notes, they tend to be in their mid-forties and -fifties. Hakki describes two very distinct groups who come into his office: “super jocks” and “executive types.” The former are military men who need to pass very stringent physical requirements to continue moving forward in their careers. “Their neck and waist measurements need to be certain ratios or they can’t fly,” he says. “We’re talking about men who are in great shape but still have love handles.” Alternately, the executive types get eye lifts or facial Botox in an effort to look younger when competing for jobs. “They feel threatened by the young bucks coming up the ranks,” Hakki says.
Still, the surgeons caution that cosmetic surgery is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are lasting effects on both a patient’s appearance and his wallet. Procedures can alter one’s looks for years to come, and most cost between $5,000 and $10,000— and are not covered by health insurance. Before operating, Hakki sits down with his patients to discuss their decision to get surgery, and occasionally, he spots red flags. For instance, he does not operate on men who have unrealistic expectations of how an eye lift may change their lives. “The man who tells me he is doing it because he thinks he is going to be 18 again, or because his wife is leaving and he wants to win her back, those are the men I turn away gently,” he says. But not all men are going under the knife to recapture their youth. For executives or members of Congress who are constantly in the public eye, getting cosmetic surgery can be a simple public relations decision to improve their looks on camera—that is, as long as it is done right. One local public relations maven recounts the story of a client, a powerful executive, who had a botched eye lift— an unfortunate incident she described as unnatural in its complete symmetry. The PR person had to advise on handling the fallout, as the surgery could obviously not be undone. “He wore contacts, so I advised him to wear glasses until it settled in because the lines of the glasses block the eyelids,” she remembers.
Another option is to stick to non-invasive cosmetic procedures, where local physician Dr. Philip Schoenfeld, founder and medical director of Renu Med Spa, has seen a spike in male clients. “These days, men are entirely more comfortable with the concept,” says Schoenfeld, who adds that most come to his office with their wives and speak freely about the procedures. Schoenfeld is also seeing more men opt for laser hair removal, a relatively quick and painless way to change ones appearance— and a treatment that is becoming increasingly common. “Neck, back, and shoulders are the most popular places. That’s like a manicure these days,” says Schoenfeld of the in-and-out ease of the process. “Let’s face it, hairy backs are out.” But, in general, the advice from professionals is to keep it simple. Man or woman, the idea is to be the best version of yourself—not a completely different self altogether.