Men Embrace Their Metrosexuality

Craig Sowash, a 43-year-old sales manager with a pulp and paper company, says he feels more confident with customers ever since he had the wrinkles on his face smoothed out with a few injections.

And if he ever needs a little surgery at some point to produce permanent results, he says, "I won't be shy about pulling the trigger."

Competition for corporate jobs among aging baby boomers, along with quicker, cheaper and less invasive techniques, and greater attention to grooming among men are helping drive an increase in cosmetic procedures among the male of the species.

Botox injections, which won Food and Drug Administration approval for wrinkle-reducing in 2002 but had already come into fairly widespread use by the end of the 1990s, were the most popular cosmetic procedure for both men and women in 2003, with nearly 334,000 procedures for men and 2.56 million for women, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Botox treatments typically cost about $200 to $400.

Traditional plastic surgery rose about 10 percent among men and 14 percent among women from 2002 to 2003, according to society figures. Nose jobs were the most popular surgical procedure among men, followed by eyelid surgery and liposuction.

Doctors say they are seeing more and more men trying to take years off their looks.

"Men feel that doing some of these procedures gives them a foot up in the business world, a competitive edge," said Dr. Marla Ross, a dermatologist in suburban Tigard who gave Sowash wrinkle-reducing injections of Restylane.

Ross also said the age range of her patients has widened, with most of them between 35 and 55. Occupations vary dramatically, from waiters "right up to CEOs of big companies."

"You see a lot in the media about `metrosexuals,' or men who are dressing well and taking care of themselves," Ross said. "Probably 15 years ago that would have been ridiculed and now it's acceptable."

Dr. Darrick Antell, a leading plastic surgeon in New York City, said women patients tell him they have always compared themselves to the models they see on fashion magazine covers. But now men are making the same kind of comparisons.

"From Calvin Klein ads for underwear to GQ, I think the media have made men more aware of how good they should look," Antell said. "They see an ad and say, `I don't have abs like that."'

GMI Inc., a market research firm in Seattle, said a survey in the major industrialized nations found that Americans are more likely than the British or the French to consider cosmetic surgery a negative trend.

"Cosmetic surgery is more negatively viewed by Americans because it is threatening to become so commonplace," said Pepper Schwartz, a University of Washington sociologist. "People feel pressured to look a certain way if everyone you know who is 50 is having surgery to look 40."

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