Published April 18, 2013
Despite being chronically sleep-deprived and frequently hungover, not to mention regularly stressed by the 13-hour days he puts in as a banker in Manhattan, Nick (not his real name) looks remarkably well-rested and considerably younger than his 31 years.
His secret? Six months ago, Nick went to New York City–based plastic surgeon Dr. Stafford R. Broumand for neck liposuction, a half-hour procedure that yields a more dramatic jawline.
"If you work hard and play hard, it's impossible to keep your neck as tight as you want," Nick says. "I was already busting my butt working out four days a week, but nothing was happening there, so I figured why not?"
Nick's desire for more masculine facial definition represents the new front line of cosmetic surgery for men.
'What's hot, changes'
In faces, as in fashion, what's hot changes. Square jaws (think Jon Hamm, Michael Fassbender, Daniel Craig) are in, replacing yesterday's pert-nose-and-dainty-chin combo (Leonardo DiCaprio, Zac Efron, Tobey Maguire).
"There's less of a desire now for a conventionally beautiful white-bread face," says Dr. Steven Teitelbaum, an associate professor of plastic surgery at UCLA School of Medicine. "People are embracing strong features like ethnic, non-traditional noses."
For example, in lieu of full-on rhinoplasty, many men are balancing their naturally big noses with chin implants (which have recently spiked by 71 percent, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons) or opting to have their noses trimmed back. (Doctors can shave down the bone and cartilage with a file.)
"I did a rhinoplasty and a chin implant on a famous actor who had a monster nose and no chin. We left a bit of a bump in the nose, so it still looked like his, just a better version," says Dr. Darrick Antell, assistant clinical professor of surgery at Columbia University. "No one, including the producer on his next project, noticed he'd had a nose job."
Fortunately for the time-strapped power player, facial surgery can now be fit into the tightest of schedules.
"Instruments have gotten smaller, which means incisions are smaller and heal faster," Antell says.
Micro-liposuction can clean up the jawline—which can become slack when you're in your 30s because of excess fat or sun exposure—in half an hour under mild sedation, with no sutures and only minor bruising. Some new procedures don't require any slicing—Ultherapy, a nonsurgical face-lift, uses ultrasound technology to heat the skin, causing collagen (the fibrous protein that gives skin its elasticity) to contract while stimulating the production of new, tighter tissue.
"This is an ideal procedure for guys in their 30s who are starting to see some skin laxity. The results are subtle but significant, and patients can go back to work the next day," says Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City.
Addicted to surgery?
The only downside to these subtler, more convenient procedures is that they can become addictive—it's easy to get hooked.
"Some men have one procedure, find they still don't feel great about themselves, and go in for another, and another," says Dr. Deborah Schooler, an assistant professor of psychology at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. But the benefits of these procedures go beyond physicality: Research from the University of Texas shows that good-looking people get hired sooner, land promotions faster, and earn an average of 3 to 4 percent more than those with below-average looks.
"Your appearance impacts what happens to you in the workplace, which is becoming leaner, meaner, and younger, so some men see plastic surgery as a strategy to boost their company's bottom line and their own salary," says Dr. David B. Sarwer, an associate professor of psychology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
When it comes to the face, a dollar spent may be a dollar earned. "Looking like I did five years ago definitely affects how I feel about myself, even at work," says one 38-year-old fashion-company owner who lives in New York City and has had his jawline tightened. "It's empowering."