While most women experience a significant part of their physical changes abruptly with childbirth, men's aging is more gradual and also more accepted. What are described as wrinkles in women are termed character lines in men. Women with grey hair look old, while silvery men look more distinguished. But what happens when the lines deepen, the silvery mane thins, and those beautiful baby blues are shaded above by droopy eyelids, and dragged down by the bags below? Or that strong rugged jawline now softens and rolls over that crisp shirt collar? Add to that the fact that you now feel guilty about eating even one cookie or both sides of the hamburger bun, and it's just plain demoralizing. When did a nice, relaxing beer become a calorie count opportunity?
Traditionally, the conversation about a man’s allure has focused more on achievement than looks. But most men take as much pride in their physique as do women; and the impact it has on their state of mind and ambition should not be underestimated. Men are just as likely as women to lose some of their sense of self as their faces and bodies change. With time, it becomes more difficult for them to maintain their physiques just the same, and work and family often limit the time with which to do so. Yet somehow we still judge the ones who want to make that extra effort, wondering why they even care so much about their looks.
One of the things that many people do not realize about cosmetic surgery is that the goal is often more subtle than one would think. Most moms who want to get their bodies back are not dreaming of the two-piece swimsuit or the centerfold pose. They just want to look good in jeans and a fitted T-shirt on a Sunday afternoon in the park. While the dads don’t have post-partum issues with which to wrangle, they have their own belly bulges to juggle after a certain age; and even a regular dress shirt can be daunting without a support layer underneath. Men want to wear slim fit shirts too, and you just can’t do that with confidence when you have a gut. In most cases, that stubborn bulge can be removed in an hour and a half, never to be heard from again. Knowing, that, if it weren’t for the “guys don’t get cosmetic surgery” motto, more of them probably would.
There is a lot that a man can do to get to that rugged aesthetic, without ever compromising on his masculinity. Great hair goes a long way, but you need enough of it to work with. Thanks to new technology and better procedures, hair transplant “tells” are a thing of the past. You can replace all you’ve lost without needing an 80s style scalp tattoo to cover the harvest site. Botox and fillers can also offer tremendous improvements with minimal downtime. And you can use just a little of them, gently relaxing those lines without totally freezing your face or looking anything close to feminine. Round it all off with a little eyelid refresher, and you won’t look like you just got off the red-eye after your seventh meeting about a meeting.
When it comes to more invasive procedures, liposuction is one of the most versatile tools for body contouring of the chest and belly. Most people don't think about cosmetic surgery of the breast for men- except for the men who need it, and they think about it all the time. For men who are otherwise fit and weight-stable, liposuction can be a game changer. Because hormone and age-related fat deposits are often diet and exercise resistant, no matter how much you torture yourself. Because if your favorite action star couldn’t get a six-pack with the best trainers and nutritionists on hand, then how can you? And because when your sculpted chest and abs ripple through that fitted T-shirt while you chase your son around the playground, life is just plain good.
Surgery cannot cure bad habits or bad living. But assuming you are trying to do things right and Mother Nature just isn’t cooperating, know that you have options that don’t include feeling out of place at a manicure salon. Male aesthetics is its own category, and serves a very important personal and social purpose. A little gentleman grooming in the right hands can go a long way to re-establish the strut in your step, and more of your friends are doing it than you realize. So the next time you see a picture of the Hollywood hunk you think looks a little like you only sharper, keep in mind that he probably started out with nature on his side, only to be complemented by a little surgical nurture along the way.
Sophie Bartsich, MD FACS