Making Mr. Right: Men's Cosmetic Surgery in 2015

by David Perry

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday March 12, 2015

Old age hits fast. You're looking into the mirror and - bang! - you realize your face just isn't as fresh as it once was. Call it extreme manscaping or even "Bro-tox," according to a report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 1.2 million men had cosmetic work in 2013. Facelifts alone were up seven percent.

Like fashion, cosmetic surgery, and the idea of male aesthetics itself, goes through trends and fads as standards change with the times. In the 80s, calf and pectoral implants were male favorites, but because it is difficult for skin maintain its youthful appearance over a prosthesis in either section of a man's body, those procedures soon lost ground.

With more than 20 years of cosmetic surgery under his belt (conventional and laser), president of the Los Angeles Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Peter H. Grossman sat down with EDGE to discuss the emerging trends in men's cosmetic surgeries and procedures to keep the readership ahead of Father Time.

You Got the Look

In 2015, Grossman opines that the "look" of modern masculinity is actually something any man with a health regimen probably already suspects.

"Modern masculinity now is someone who is fit, well-groomed, and youthful without looking silly," he says. Mindful of the firestorm actor Russell Tovey from HBO's "Looking" set off with regards to effeminacy, Grossman nevertheless adds, "It's a healthy, fit, natural look, but not looking overly feminine and not something that looks like it shouldn't be there. That is what most of my male population looks for, both straight and gay population."

If there is any difference between gay and straight clients, Grossman notes, it is the willingness to have work done, rather than the work itself. While his office does not record the orientations of his clients, when the subject does come up, Grossman has noticed empirically that gay men are much more aggressive and open about going under the knife rather than straight men, who tend to be clandestine about their nips and tucks.

Cutting-Edge, Indeed

Grossman tells EDGE that new, finer technologies allow for new, finer procedures that a few years ago would have been impossible or disfiguring. The idea of secrecy is becoming less of an issue because the healing and downtime are much quicker, and new technology allows for subtle adjustments rather than protean leaps such as a face lift.

"There are lasers now that are used underneath the skin to heat the undersurface of the skin to create a kind of 'shrink-wrap,' if you will, to tighten the skin and to stimulate new collagen and new elastin," he says. This particular procedure, which takes off two to five years in perceived age, is a favorite for older men wanting a firmer, more youthful-looking jaw line but are content with their faces otherwise.

Statistics gathered by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) give the raw numbers of who is getting what. Botox is far and away the most popular cosmetic treatment being done today; for men specifically, surgery to remove male breast development, called gynocomastia, rates high. Caused by medication, weight gain, or, in a supreme irony, from heavy steroid use, the condition is known in the weight-lifting community as "bitch tits."

"There are procedures now that are available that combine both liposuction and small, surgical incisions to remove that excess tissue to a more flattering appearance to the male chest," Dr. Grossman says.

Another technique Grossman highlighted is the relatively new procedure putting a laser underneath the skin and ablating the sweat glands that go to the armpits, thus eliminating wet patches and even the need for deodorant.

"Sweat-gland surgery is very new, very cutting-edge, with very little negative aspect to it," he observes. However, those with sweaty hands are out of luck - although many have inquired for such a surgery, for all the advances, modern technology still can't work around the Gordian knot of nerves in the palm.

"Maybe one day that will happen," Grossman adds optimistically.

Less is More

But we have all seen those examples of the face in one decade and the body another. Joan Rivers made every procedure she ever had part of her comedy and Dolly Parton often pokes fun at her own surgeries, but Michael Jackson and Jocelyn Wildenstein proved that there has to be a stopping point.

Says Grossman: "I think everyone who performs cosmetic surgery should be confident enough to tell their clients something is not a good idea and say, 'No, I'm not going to do that.' Because if you don't, you're going to have an unhappy patient, or a potential problem, and you are not doing what is ethically right."

For women, out-of-proportion breast augmentation is a perennial bugaboo (Grossman cites an example of a 105 lbs. woman requesting a triple-F cup) and is considered by most surgeons more a cry for attention than a cosmetic need. In men, he notes that eyelids are the problem spot.

"If you over-do the eyelids, it's very unnatural-looking," Grossman warns. "You can look up people who have had their lids overdone and it dramatically changes their appearance. It makes them look very unnatural."

Indeed, the Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra" graphically depicted how the entertainer was left unable to close his eyes at all after a botched blepharoplasty; country legend Kenny Rogers complained that a 2005 surgery left the skin around his eyes too tight.

The ASPS itself highlights the risks involved with surgery - all surgery, cosmetic or not, carries a degree of risk - and Grossman freely admits when he uses a laser, he is in fact inflicting "controlled damage" on a client in hopes the healing will result in a more pleasing look, but which is not 100 percent guaranteed. Even the best doctors make mistakes, and even a textbook surgery can heal badly.

"So the best thing," advises Grossman, "is for the consumer is to research. Someone who is board-certified by the board of plastic surgery. Talk to the surgeon, ask to see before-and-afters, and ask if someone is willing to share their stories. Often times, the best referral source is from word of mouth. If you know personally a person who has gone to a surgeon, and they not only had good results but a good overall experience."

David Perry is a freelance travel and news journalist. In addition to EDGE, his work has appeared on ChinaTopix, Thrillist, and in Next Magazine and Steele Luxury Travel among others. Follow him on Twitter at @GhastEald.

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