Jersey Scene: Plastic surgery for men

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The Record


Bill Ervolino explores the little known, unusual and sometimes weird things in North Jersey.
Dr. Zenda Garcia-Lat and Dr. Emmanuel Lat own a practice in Paramus.
I’m on a sofa in a Paramus office, trying to sit still while a husband and wife tear my face apart.
He is Dr. Emmanuel A. Lat, a plastic surgeon, who serves on the staffs of Valley Hospital, Holy Name Hospital and Hackensack University Medical Center.

She is Dr. Zenda Garcia-Lat, who specializes in aesthetic medicine and cosmetic dermatology: botox, chemical peels, laser treatments, fillers. And they’re on either side of me, looking down at my aging lips, nose and eyes while I squirm, wince and occasionally yelp in agony.
Plastic surgery is making me sick. And, no, I’m not having it done. I’m just talking about it … and looking at pictures.

Some of these photographs are on a computer screen, others reside in scrapbooks. They’re primarily before-and-after photos, most of which are too-soon-after photos: Men who’ve had their eyelids lifted; men who’ve had their noses sculpted; men with — and, later, without — furrowed brows and droopy necks and ears the size of flapjacks.
Most had barely healed when the after photos were taken. That’s because “men tend not to be very good with follow-ups,” Garcia-Lat explains. Her husband nods, adding. “Unless something isn’t right, you never see them again.”

Just seeing these men in the first place, though, is notable, to doctors whose services were once sought out almost exclusively by women. And therein lies a trend.
The number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed in the U.S. last year was down 17 percent from 2008 (a dip attributed to the sluggish economy), but the number of males having such surgeries, during that same period, was up by 1 percent. Staggering? No. But, surprising. And significant.
Dr. Richard A. D’Amico, a colleague of the Lats’ with a practice in Englewood, says, “Men no longer consider cosmetic surgery to be taboo. About 8-10 percent of clients today are men. And in five years, it could be as high as 20 percent.”

Does this mean that we’re getting braver? More informed? Or, just uglier?
Nationally, the five most popular cosmetic surgery procedures for men are nose reshaping, hair transplantation, liposuction, male breast reduction (to correct a condition called gynecomastia) and eyelid surgery.

My concern isn’t my eyelids, but the creases under my eyes. As I proceeded to diagnose myself (incorrectly) Lat interrupted: “It’s fat.”

I politely disagreed. He then showed me photographs of some nasty-looking bits of fatty gunk on a piece of blood-flecked gauze and went on to talk about snipping some of the loose skin under my eyes, removing the fat and …
I began feeling nauseous. My head was spinning. And that was the end of that conversation.
Botox wouldn’t help under my eyes, they said. “It would probably make it look worse,” Garcia-Lat noted. “And I wouldn’t give you botox, anywhere else. You don’t need it.”

Plenty of other men do. Or, think they do. Today, almost 15 percent of botox injections are done on men, and those numbers are rising steadily.

“Male patients come in with lines on their foreheads,” Garcia-Lat says, “and they all say the same thing, ‘Everyone tells me I look angry.’ ”

Or, tired. Or, not as “fresh” as they used to look. The secret to correcting that, Garcia-Lat adds, “is doing just enough. The best procedures and the best plastic surgeries go unnoticed. You look good. You look rested.”

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