Mark looked away as the doctor inched towards his face. ‘This might sting,’ the medic warned, plunging a needle into the fine lines creasing across his forehead, to the side of his eyes, and around his mouth.
Twenty minutes and a few hundred pounds later, banker Mark, 34, who lives near Hastings, East Sussex, left the clinic to go home and wait for the Botox to take effect. The red marks soon vanished and the botulinum toxin slowly began to paralyse the muscles to erase the wrinkles.
Checking his reflection a few days later, Mark smiled. He had a big day ahead and wanted to look his best. But he wasn’t getting married, or having a photo session. Mark was going for an interview for a promotion at his company, and had invested in Botox to give him the edge over his competitors. ‘I know I’m not over the hill,’ he smiles, without any laughter lines showing. ‘But I want to look young and fresh, not tired and lined. This could get me a promotion so it’s money well spent.’
Mark’s not alone. Doctors say more and more young men are now looking for subtle procedures that help them look as if they’ve had a great holiday and not surgery.
For years botox was a product reserved for celebrities looking to boost their looks and help keep their pictures on the front pages for a few more years. Then came the rich and (not so) famous, fashion-conscious women seeking to emulate their idols in the looks department. Lately it has become a routine feature in many women’s beauty procedures; as much a part of their life as luxury manicures and facials.
But as Botox has been rejuvenating women from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, LA, to villages across Britain’s south coast, a silent revolution has been underway as men join women in the queues for enhancements at salons and clinics.
It seems that in this fast-paced world, an increasing number of men are turning to the non-invasive, anti-ageing procedure to smoothen their wrinkles and earn a competitive edge over their business rivals. Once it was enough to wear the smartest designer suit and tie. Then came the watch as a statement piece. This was followed by cosmetics giants reacting to men ‘borrowing’ their partners’ beauty products, stocking shelves high with men-only creams and gels. Now you can add ‘Brotox’ – Botox for men -– to the list of male must-haves.
But while it is becoming more commonplace, the majority of men who are using Botox to look young are refusing to own up to their anti-ageing secret. Some opt for fitting the treatment into their hectic schedule by visiting the clinic in their lunch break (the lack of bruising and swelling means the procedure can pass unnoticed by colleagues), while others go to far greater lengths to avoid being uncovered, and travel to out-of-town practitioners – or even halfway around the world. ‘They hope people will comment on how their relaxing holiday has taken years off them rather than how effective their treatment has been,’ said one doctor.
According to one survey as many as one in nine British men sneak out in their lunch hour to have ‘Brotox’ in secret. One in five don’t even admit it to their partners. The Botox industry is worth £18 million in the UK and 10 per cent of patients are men. Dr Susan Mayou from the Cadogan Clinic in London has seen a surge in men in their 30s and 40s going to her clinic for Botox.
‘My patients include people who face a critical audience for their jobs, such as those who lecture or train others to improve their business,’ she says. They are trying to empower others so have to look credible. This treatment is out there now and it’s accessible. It’s an extension of men doing more about their skincare, which is all part of male grooming. It makes them feel better because they look better. They perform better when they feel confident. It’s like having a smart suit.’
Other men see cosmetic enhancements as an excuse to go on holiday – and have the treatment while they’re away so they can keep it a secret. ASPS president Scot Glasberg, who owns a private practice in Manhattan, New York City, said he treats men from across the city, the country, and Europe and is seeing continuous growth in demand.
He says his patients are getting younger and younger when they make their first appointment. ‘People are looking for subtle procedures,’ he explains. ‘They don’t want everyone to know they’ve had cosmetic surgery. It’s not uncommon for 30-year-olds to come in because they think it will stave off the ageing process. Men want to be able to go back to work and have people tell them they look like they’ve had a good sleep or vacation, not that they’ve had treatment. They want to have it in their downtime, ideally, like in their lunch hour.’
He usually suggests his patients come back every six months. ‘But if you are the type of person who is constantly looking in the mirror, it might be less,’ he says. ‘There is a whole psychology around it. They’ve usually spoken to a colleague or someone who has had it done and says how easy it is. They want to know it’s quick and people won’t know they have had it done.’
Dr Glasberg has treated people wanting to look younger for job interviews and lists professional and blue-collar workers as regular patients. ‘I want them to feel better about themselves but there is also something of a Wall Street etiquette – men wanting to fit into a certain look depending on where they work. It’s a competitive world and they want to do their best and that also means looking their best.’ He said work had been undertaken to help overcome the stigma previously associated with cosmetic surgery and other anti-ageing procedures.‘We have come a long way but a lot of guys still don’t like admitting to it.’ ■
As the job markets becomes increasingly competitive, men are opting for Botox – or Brotox as it’s been dubbed - to get to the next step on the career ladder, or even hang onto their positions, discovers Sarah Gibbons