More than ever before, men are engaging in anti–aging and enhancement procedures. We've got the scoop on what men are having done—and why they're doing it.

Why so secretive? 

Most women make no secret of their desire to preserve a youthful look. But men are a different story. According to Dr. Michael Weinberg, B.Sc., M.Sc., MD, FRCS(C), of Mississauga, Ont., this is because, "as a man you're not supposed to care about how you look; it's seen as vanity. A man's attractiveness has traditionally been linked to income and position rather than appearance." However, in an age where looking good is also associated with health and overall fitness, steadily increasing numbers of men have been checking out the anti–aging industry. "They are facing competition from younger men both for jobs and romance; divorce and job insecurity can prompt men to stay competitive, especially as we are living longer and therefore working longer," says Dr. Weinberg.

Dr. Tim Sproule, MD, FRCS(C), of Toronto, sees a number of male patients who are in excellent health and feel younger than they look. "They want their internal youthfulness to be reflected on the outside," he says. "It's becoming OK for men to be seen as looking after their health and appearance. With the acceptance of a more polished man in the 'metrosexual' identity, and the fact that women are less embarrassed as well to discuss the procedures they've had, men are much more likely to choose these options than ever before."

Nevertheless, all the doctors we spoke to admit that men are not likely to run out and discuss their procedures over a beer with their friends. Again, not wanting to appear vain and less masculine seems to be the root of this more discreet approach. "And because there is still a mild stigma attached to plastic surgery, we are very careful not to disclose what our clients, especially men, have done," says Dr. Sproule.

Common Procedures

Rhinoplasty, gynecomastia (male breast reduction) and love–handle liposuction are the most common procedures for men under the age of 35. While diet and exercise can reduce the appearance of male breasts and extra weight around the waist, most men Dr. Sproule sees choose surgery either in addition to diet and exercise for resistant areas, or as a stand–alone method which addresses these concerns more quickly. "Only a small number of men have genetic disorders which cause gynecomastia," says Dr. Sproule. Men over 50 and into their 60s tend to prefer more invasive procedures, like facelifts, neck lifts, and tummy tucks, particularly after a major weight loss.

"Men age differently than women, so sometimes they don't need to see us for a while for a facelift," says Dr. Sproule. "Testosterone production directly impacts male wrinkle patterns and makes them less noticeable overall than in women. So men have a distinct advantage over women in this regard."

Also, older men often have a greater income or more established career than a younger man—although this isn't always the case—meaning they are more likely to be able to afford these procedures.

Shedding the Pounds

Weight–loss procedures have also shot to the top of the list for invasive wellness options for men. "We are seeing a huge increase in men who have LAP–BAND surgeries to promote weight loss, which may be related to the fact that the surgery is covered by OHIP," says Dr. Sproule. Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Vince Bertucci, MD, FRCPC of the Bertucci MedSpa in Woodbridge, Ont., says Botox, fillers, and skin–care regimes are very popular with men. "Men are drawn to procedures which are non–invasive, require no downtime, are effective, and which they can keep private." Tumescent liposuction used for body contouring, as well as skin tightening procedures are also high on the male cosmetic enhancement wish list. However, Dr. Bertucci does warn men to consider what effect they are looking for with any procedure they choose. "Men wrinkle differently than women, and it's important to chose an esthetican who is aware that the masculinity of the face should be preserved by placing fillers in specific areas," he says. "The goal is a youthful effect, while keeping the face masculine." But, is plastic surgery preferable over other cosmetic procedures for men? "Not necessarily so," says Dr. Sproule. "It's important for men to research the range of options available to them. Men might find a combination of surgery and esthetic procedures may give them a better result than surgery or esthetic enhancement alone." (Probably good advice for women, too!)

Overall, our experts agree that the most noticeable difference in a man post–procedure is related to self–esteem: "You'd be amazed at the change in the way men see themselves after they've had a procedure," says Dr. Sproule. "I often see a real personality change after surgery. And a man who feels empowered about the way he looks is going to feel great about pursuing romantic and career opportunities he may not have before."

So, while we won't necessarily see them in droves in the waiting room—and they'll likely be hiding behind a magazine if we do—it's true that men are becoming more well–groomed and younger looking than ever before, while still maintaining the fine lines that women have grown to love.

Let's hear it for the boys!