Forget the outdated perception of women feverishly seeking out a fountain of youth while their male counterparts age gracefully. The number of men getting the wrinkle-smoothing injection Botox is growing so rapidly that people in dermatology and plastic-surgery circles have given it a name: “brotox.”
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there was a 286-percent increase in the number of men undergoing treatment with Botox (or botulinum toxin type A) between 2000 and 2011. Last year, it was the most popular cosmetic treatment for men, with more than 360,000 procedures nationwide—and those are only the ones reported to the ASPS.
While women tend to go for injections in several areas of the face for a more dramatic rejuvenation, men stick to one or two key spots—such as forehead lines, crow’s-feet, and mid-eyebrow furrows—for a more subtle result. That’s partly because men are adopting a don’t-ask, don’t-tell policy.
“What they love about Botox is that there’s no recovery time and no one can point to them and say they had something done,” says DC dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi. “Unlike women, who will tell their friends at a cocktail party while everyone admires their faces, men are doing it without any advertising.”
Tanzi typically sees two types of male Botox patients. One is the guy whose wife is a fan of the treatment and convinces him to go to the doctor to have a mole checked. Once he’s there, one thing leads to another and he may choose to get Botox—even if his feelings before walking through the door leaned toward skepticism. The fact that results are temporary—lasting three to six months—helps lure men in, though many of them end up as hooked as their wives are.
The other type of patient is the opposite, embracing his vanity. “Baby boomers are realizing the importance of looking as good as they feel,” says Tanzi. “This is the man who works out, takes care of himself, but getting rid of those lines isn’t something he can do on his own. He wants to look as good as he can, within reason and without sacrificing a natural look.”
Bethesda dermatologist Mark Jaffe says there’s a third segment of the wrinkle-relaxing population: those who believe that shaving a few years off of their appearance can make them more viable in today’s job market.
“Since 2007, I’ve seen a lot of insecurity about jobs from male patients,” Jaffe says. “They’re worried about being replaced by younger counterparts, which has made Botox and fillers the top two procedures for them.”
His typical clientele ranges in age from forties to early sixties and is generally white-collar and employed in the private sector.
A 48-year-old Reston man who works in technology-software sales management says his decision to get Botox was career-related: “I’d had deep furrows between my eyes for as long as I can remember and felt that—besides adding on a few years—they made me look more stressed, angry, and tense than I really was, which isn’t a great impression to make in professional sales. It’s a competitive field, especially in this area, and the way you present yourself is a big part of the game, especially when there are successful guys ten years younger vying for the same business.”
This athletic weekend warrior’s introduction to Botox began with underarm treatments to minimize sweating. He was so pleased with the results that he trusted his dermatologist to move on to his face.
“If you had asked me a few years ago, I’d have said I’d never do anything like this,” he says. “But I see this as so different from plastic surgery. I look fresher, like I’m getting more sleep. For me, it provides the same confidence as putting on a nice suit or getting a good haircut.”
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