Beauty pains: a female problem? Not so much, say docs in the field.
In an age of profile photos, selfies, and social media, men are now more aware of their appearance than ever, says Chia Chi Kao, M.D., a Los Angeles-based board-certified plastic surgeon. And the advent of non-surgical procedures (think: Botox, fillers, or lasers) makes it easier for men to do something about their looks, he says.
Some men are. Guys account for eight percent of all cosmetic treatments—everything from laser hair removal to liposuction—according to new statistics. That number is up 1% from last year, the stats reveal. (So while dudes might not be banging down the doors of dermatologists around the country, the process is certainly no longer reserved for the ladies.)
So the technology’s there. The procedures are relatively pain-free. And, for the most part, they work. Interested in making an appointment? “Make sure to research your practitioner, and when in doubt, choose a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon with experience in the specific technique of interest,” says Neil Sadick, M.D., a dermatologist and researcher who is also board-certified in cosmetic surgery.
Also, know what to expect. Here, the low-down on six popular procedures—straight from the doctors themselves.
1. Hair Procedures
Men care about hair—either not enough, or too much in the wrong places, says Kao. A hair transplant surgery—removing some of your scalp and using it to fill a hairless area—can have social downtime of a week (that’s due to scabbing and mild swelling of your scalp), says Sadick. You should expect visible growth within 6 months and full results in a year, he says.
A more non-invasive option? Hair enhancement, in which doctors use platelet-rich plasma and serum protein extract to fertilize the hair follicles, says Kao. “This can enhance hair growth and reduce the rate of hair loss, but it’s not a replacement for a hair transplant,” he says.
Laser hair removal—laser light energy that penetrates the hair shaft to kill the hair root—has also gotten about 40% more popular over the past five years, says Kao. Small areas (think: upper lip) can be treated in less than a minute, and large areas (your back or legs) may take up to an hour.
The most common side effects of this are skin irritation and pigment changes (laser hair removal might darken or lighten the affected skin, usually temporarily), Kao says. For a day or two afterward, your skin may also look and feel like it's sunburned.
And know that the first treatment rarely produces a visible result—depending on the person, you’ll need between three and eight treatments.
2. Facial Wrinkle Reductions
Neuromodulators such as Botox are used to get rid of or reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles on your face—usually on your forehead or in between your eyes, says Sadick. Your doc will inject you in the areas you want improved. Typically, you’re good to go post-procedure—but there’s always a risk of bruising that can last up to a week, Sadick says. Expect results in five to seven days, he adds.
3. Non-Ablative Lasers
“One of the most popular things that men are doing lately is changing the texture of their skin,” says Kao. Something called Regenlite Transform—an all-in-one medical laser that emits a unique light pulse from a hand piece held close to the skin—can be used on everything from sun damage to pigmentation to acne, says Sadick.
“For acne sufferers, the laser light kills and reduces the bacteria causing infection and simultaneously stimulates the natural repair mechanisms of the skin,” he explains. “The light penetrating into the blood vessels stimulates the body’s natural response to produce collagen, enhancing skin rejuvenation, and reducing wrinkles or acne scarring.”
There’s no downtime for this procedure—and it’s good for all skin types, says Sadick, who adds that usually you need six to eight treatments for optimal results. (So yeah, it can be pricey.) Kao adds that the results may be temporary: “Surgery and neck lifts are the only more semi-permanent procedures.”
4. Double Chin Fat Reduction
Yep, there’s a procedure for that. Kybella is an injectable solution that kills fat cells, says Sadick. “The injection contains a naturally occurring molecule which eats away at fat. When injected properly, all other cells are left healthy and intact.” What to expect? Swelling, a little bit of discomfort, and bruising that could last up to two weeks. Expect results in 30 to 90 days, he says.
5. Abdominal Fat Reduction
CoolSculpting—a non-surgical procedure that freezes fat cells to destroy them—is a good technique for back fat, says Kao. The downside: It takes multiple treatments—and since each area is a procedure in itself, the process can become costly if you need multiple areas, he says. “Liposuction, in some cases, can be a better option.” Expect mild discomfort and swelling for a week optimal results in three months, adds Sadick.
Another technique: i-LipoXcell, says Kao. Both visible red and infra-red lasers stimulate metabolic pathways, which helps release fatty acids and glycerol, shrinking fat cells, he explains. “Results are seen immediately, with an average of one inch loss per 20 minute treatment.” It’s safe, comfortable, and can target specific stubborn pockets of fat as well as reshape the body, Kao says.
6. Skin Tightening/Non-Invasive Face Lifts
Want to get rid of sag without going under the knife? ThermiTight is a skin-tightening treatment that uses a tiny probe to deliver radio frequency energy just beneath the surface of the skin, says Sadick. “It's primarily used to tighten sagging skin on the face, but it can also be used on the neck, tummy, and thighs.” If any side effects at all, you’ll likely see some swelling and bruising—but then results in 30 to 90 days, he says.
Another option is Ultherapy—it’s a targeted ultrasound treatment that’s used to lift and tighten loose skin (think: eyebrows, jawline, and wrinkles on the chest). “Ultherapy uses ultrasound energy to heat targeted tissue under the surface of the skin, triggering the natural production of collagen,” says Sadick. It’s safe, assuming you’re seeing an experienced and licensed practitioner, and the most common side effects are numbness and tingling and maybe a little bruising and swelling. Permanent nerve damage can occur, but is exceedingly rare, Sadick says. Bruising and swelling can also occur. See full results from the tightening and lifting process in anywhere from three to six months.