Justin Timberlake vs. the Marlboro Man: the changing face of male self-image in America

More and more men are seeking out cosmetic plastic surgery to improve their looks and reverse the signs of aging.
More and more men are seeking out cosmetic plastic surgery to improve their looks and reverse the signs of aging.

By Stuart B. Kincaid, MD, FACS

Youth, beauty, style and a slim physique: for decades, these concerns have weighed heavy on the minds of women everywhere – and left men more or less alone. But in an increasingly image-conscious society – one in which men are now inundated with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, and even dapper anti-heroes like “Mad Men” charmer Don Draper – the desire for physical fitness, fashion sense and a “put together” appearance has trickled into the male sphere as well. According to a recent business report for the

Huffington Post

, self-image woes have swept the male population over the past decade, spreading from celebrities and public figures to everyday men of all ages; and as a result, the business of beautification is striving to encompass both sexes in equal measure.

However, this leaves many consumers (and marketing professionals, for that matter) in something of a bind: after all, men may want to appear younger, fitter and more well groomed…but unlike women, they’re less prone to admit it, and also less likely to embrace “girly” products and services traditionally aimed at women. So far, companies like Dove, Weight Watchers and Dr. Pepper have responded by creating new, targeted ads designed to attract men with more masculine images and slogans, as well as product representation by so-called “regular guys” as opposed to women or celebrities.

Representatives for these campaigns insist that, at least so far, this gruffer, manlier approach to marketing has been successful. Then again, there’s also evidence to suggest that sales may have less to do with male consumption habits, and more to do with the simple desire to look younger and more attractive – regardless of the “girly” factor traditionally associated with cosmetic procedures. For instance, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of chemical peels, laser hair removal procedures and other cosmetic treatments performed on men has gone up 45 percent since 2000. As one commentator put it, “Back in the day, guys cared more about working hard and providing than having a hairy chest or a beer belly.” But now? “Guys worry more about their appearance than they used to.” Just last year, the

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

released lists of the top five cosmetic surgical and non-invasive procedures for men across the country. Among surgical procedures, the most popular were

  1. Nose reshaping (Rhinoplasty)
  2. Eyelid surgery
  3. Liposuction
  4. Male breast reduction (Gynecomastia)
  5. Hair transplantation.

Meanwhile, the most common non-invasive procedures included

  1. Botulinum Toxin Type A
  2. Laser hair removal
  3. Microdermabrasion
  4. Chemical peel
  5. Soft tissue fillers (such as Sculptra Aesthetic)

Both lists indicate a steady shift in the collective male psyche when it comes to plastic surgery – and a broadening market for cosmetic transformation that transcends the gender divide.

Male plastic surgery: a burgeoning trend that isn’t “just for women” anymore

As society becomes increasingly accepting -- and even encouraging -- of male fashion, grooming and beautification products, more and more men are realizing the benefits of male cosmetic surgery procedures as well. Laser hair removal, liposuction, Botox and

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