Dr. David McDaniel, a dermatologist in Virginia Beach, Va., recalled an awkward scene a while back when a husband bumped into his wife at McDaniel’s office. Both were there for Botox, but the husband hadn’t told his wife he was getting treated. The man quickly threw his arm around McDaniel, pretending the doctor was an old buddy who he had stopped by to visit. “Men are stealthy,” McDaniel said.
However stealthily, men are having a little work done in increasing numbers these days, plastic surgeons and dermatologists report. Total cosmetic procedures for men rose 22% from 2000 through 2012, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. From 2011 to 2012, men’s use of minimally invasive cosmetic procedures such as botulinum toxin (sold under the brand name Botox) rose 6%, according to the society.
Underlying this trend at the doctor’s office, practitioners say, is a harsh reality in the workplace. While the unemployment rate for those 55 and over is lower than for other ages, it takes boomers much longer to find work if they lose their jobs. The duration of unemployment for job seekers 55 and over is 50.4 weeks, compared with 34.2 weeks for those under 55, according to an analysis of BLS data by Sara Rix of the AARP Public Policy Institute.
And there’s evidence that, despite laws prohibiting age discrimination, looking old (or at least looking older) can hamper efforts to reboot a career. “Appearance matters in a job search,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based global outplacement firm.
With all this mind, men are visiting plastic surgeons and dermatologists for Botox and facial fillers that minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Women visit too, of course, and face similar pressures at work. But some doctors say workplace concerns have been particularly influential in driving male patients to get past the stigma some men attach to cosmetic procedures. (While their ranks are growing, men still make up just 9% of overall cosmetic procedure patients, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.)
McDaniel said a couple of years ago he had many 50-something, male middle managers coming to him because they were worried about keeping their jobs. While such visits have tapered off somewhat with the improving economy, McDaniel still sees plenty of guys these days. He does laser skin resurfacing on the faces of men who have done too many sunblock-less rounds on the golf course, and he sees men in their early 30s for “pre-juvenation,” or treatments such as microdermabrasion designed to delay the onset of wrinkles.
The good news, Challenger said, is that there are plenty of ways to come across as youthful in a job interview. A 55-year-old candidate who projects an energetic vibe can go a long way toward easing prospective employers’ concerns about his age, Challenger said. Challenger said he wouldn’t advise a client one way or another about using cosmetic procedures to attain that vibe. But he said he counsels older job seekers against omitting signs of their age, such as their college graduation year, from their resume: “If it’s not there, they know there’s a reason or it.”
Paying out of pocket
Cosmetic treatments generally aren’t covered by health insurance plans, and they don’t come cheap. Botox is typically sold either by the unit or per “treatment area”—a dosage for crows’ feet, for example. One unit costs around $15, Dr. J. Shah, a doctor of antiaging medicine and the chief medical director of Amari Medical in Scarsdale, N.Y. Areas might cost $200 or more to treat (treating laugh lines around the eyes alone would cost less than laugh lines plus forehead and frown lines, for example). Fillers are sold by the syringe and typically run $500 to $600 per vial, with a usual minimum of 2 shots per treatment, Shah said.
Here’s the catch: These are hardly one-time expenses. Like gray roots, wrinkles resurface. Botox typically lasts about three months, while fillers can last about a year, Shah said.
If such treatments help a man hang on to a well-paying job with benefits, he might consider them a very worthy investment, although ultimately, of course, that’s a matter of individual choice.
Note to guys who decide to proceed: Don't shop for cosmetic procedures like you shop for cars. It isn’t a matter of getting the best price for a menu of features, experts say. Fillers and Botox are not commodities that perform the same no matter who injects them, and even “minimally invasive” procedures can go wrong in unskilled hands (think a frozen look from bad Botox, or “duck lips” from too much filler, to name just a couple of examples).
Dermatologists and plastic surgeons have plenty of competition these days when it comes to administering cosmetic treatments, from everyone from dentists to medical spa technicians who aren’t doctors or even nurses. Unsurprisingly, experts say the doctors who get the best results tend to be those who specialize in cosmetic procedures and do them all day long.
Next up: A face-lift?
Some doctors also advise that patients go to a practitioner who offers a full range of cosmetic treatments, from minimally invasive to more involved procedures, such as face-lifts. Dr. Eric Swanson, a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and a practicing plastic surgeon in Kansas City, Kan., sees men in their mid-60s who want to get rid of their “turkey wattle.” In these cases, he said, injections usually aren’t the answer and a face-lift is needed instead.
Of course, face-lifts are pricier, running anywhere between $8,000 in low-cost parts of the country to the $20,000 charged by some New York City or Beverly Hills doctors. Such procedures last longer, but require more down time, which may be tough to fit in to an executive’s schedule. For his part, Swanson thinks patients are fine with this: “They want results.”
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