More Men Having Plastic Surgery

Jose Aponte, owner of A & R Homes, poses at his office in Jersey City, N.J., Wednesday, June 2, 2004. Last year Aponte spent about $15,000 on surgery to erase the furrows creading his brow and deflate puffiness around his eyes. He says the look matches the way he feels. AP

Turning 50 two years ago motivated Jose Aponte to change his lifestyle. He quit smoking, improved his diet and started exercising regularly. But while he felt better, Aponte said he still looked haggard.

So last year, Aponte spent about $15,000 on surgery to erase the furrows creasing his brow and deflate the puffiness around his eyes. Now he says his more youthful look matches the way he feels.

"I would spend the money again," said Aponte, a real estate developer in Jersey City, N.J. "It (the surgery) made a tremendous amount of difference in the way I walk, the way I look at people. A buddy of mine looked at me and said 'Time just stopped for you.'"

A growing number of male baby boomers age 40 to 58 are turning to plastic surgery to keep themselves looking younger. Doctors say America's youth-oriented culture is behind the trend, but so is men's increasing comfort with admitting they care about their looks - as evidenced by the popularity of shows like "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

Women still account for most cosmetic procedures but men are making up more of the total. Last year, men underwent 13 percent of all procedures, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

That's up from 11.7 percent in 2002 and 9.7 percent in 1998.

"We live in a youthful culture. Everyone want to look younger," said Dr. Thomas Romo III, Director of Facial Plastic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

Romo added that the stigma of plastic surgery has largely faded, and that has encouraged more men and women to consider the investment to improve their appearance. The total number of cosmetic procedures increased 18 percent last year to 7.2 million.

He said men make up about 35 percent of his patients. Five years ago, it was about 25 percent.

"Madison Avenue created an environment for men to use cologne and skin care products," said Romo. "So why not plastic surgery?"

Doctors said there are two primary reasons men visit a plastic surgeon. They want to look younger to remain competitive in the work force. And those who are divorced and dating again want to project an image of vitality to lure potential mates.

"Forty-five year old men want to pick up 29-year-old women, so they want to look young again," said Dr. Pradeep Sinha, an Atlanta-based plastic surgeon.

Doctors said women tend to start visiting plastic surgeons in their late 30s and early 40s to freshen their look with youth enhancers like Botox shots. Men typically pay their first visit in their mid-40s.

"Women spend more money on their looks when they are younger, "said Sinha "Men spend on money on other stuff when they are younger" - including cars and high-tech items.

Liposuction tops the list of most popular procedures for both men and women, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Men tend to rid themselves of love handles and sagging abdomens, doctors said, while women reduce flabby thighs and hips.

Rounding out the top procedures for men are nose jobs, eyelid surgery, breast reductions and hair transplantation.

Airline pilot Chris Bourgeois opted to have a procedure to eliminate the bags under his eyes and liposuction to negate his double chin two years ago when was undergoing surgery to clear his sinuses.

"I just wanted a more professional look," said Bourgeois, a 53-year old living in Fayetteville, Ga. "I wanted the people who fly with me to feel safe."

William Menzel owns his own food and restaurant consulting firm, and believes his rejuvenated look helps business. Three years ago he had eyelid surgery to evaporate bags and dark circles. Last year he had a procedure to smooth the wrinkles on his neck and cheeks.

"When I meet people they respond better," said the 57-year old. "I feel better about myself and I think it shows."

Still, Menzel said the main reason is opted for surgery was "pure vanity."

"I just want to look good," he said. "I didn't like getting old."


By Theresa Agovino
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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