More men turning to cosmetic surgery

Trend attributed to 'selfies,' longer work careers

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PITTSBURGH — Plastic surgeon Leo McCafferty believes selfies have something to do with it.

“There are all of these pictures and you say to yourself, ‘I look older than I feel,’” Dr. McCafferty says. “People are working longer and people want to look as young as they feel.”

Whatever the reason, the number of middle-aged and older men signing up for cosmetic surgery has increased nearly threefold in the past 15 years as guys seek a more youthful appearance, or at least a delay before the telltale sags of aging settle in.

Financial adviser Jim Wehrheim, 64 with no plans of retiring, sought out Dr. McCafferty six years ago about a double chin that threatened to overtake his jawline. “I did it for myself,” he says. “I just didn’t like the way I looked.”

It’s a familiar theme among his male patients, McCafferty said. “I think certainly there’s an element of vanity, but a certain amount of vanity is good. We need to kind of take care of ourselves.”

Another patient of Dr. McCafferty’s, Bruce, a 55-year-old executive from Chicago who underwent a facelift earlier this month, freely admits the procedure was “all about me.”

“We men are aging, but we are staying in shape and exercising and working out. So from the neck down, we could be in our 30s or 40s. So you just want the face to match,” says Bruce, who asked that his last name not be published.

“Even at 55, I feel like I’m in my 20s until I pass by a mirror.”

Cosmetic surgery for men is not for the faint of heart or — because insurance probably won’t cover the procedure — the thin of wallet. Physician fees for the most common procedures range from $2,700 to more than $5,000, and the cost can easily double when facility fees, anesthesia and other surgical costs are added in.

Because it is an elective surgery, safety is paramount, Dr. McCafferty emphasized.

“You have to remember there is a medical side to it. That’s why Botox parties are to be frowned upon, because things can happen.”

Women still comprise about 90 percent of the cosmetic surgery patients, but the number of men undergoing the knife is increasing at a faster rate as times have changed, said Michael Edwards, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Today, he said, “There’s a need to work longer. It’s not as though people can retire at 55 and fish and travel the world. They need to watch their pennies and they need to stay competitive in the workforce.”

Based in Las Vegas, Dr. Edwards’ plastic surgery practice sees a wide range of patients, from cocktail servers to show headliners whose livelihoods depend at least partially on physical appearance. “But I think the more profound effect is what comes internally. They feel better. They’re more self-confident. They start taking better care of themselves.”

Wehrheim certainly agrees with that, noting that a more youthful appearance won’t necessarily be an advantage to a financial adviser. “In my business, it helps to look experienced,” he said.

“If you feel good about all parts of your life — about your marriage, your health, your appearance, your business — it’s all part of the puzzle. If you have one part that you’re not satisfied with, it weighs on you. I’m not saying I was unhappy with it, but I just thought, ‘Why not be my best at everything?’”

His wife supported the decision, he said, but did first ask, “You’re not doing this for me, are you?” He assured her he wasn’t.

And while he’s taking some requisite ribbing from his golfing buddies, he added, “I know deep down inside they want to do it, too, but they’re not willing to pull the trigger.”

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