'Brotox': It's Time For Men To Come Out Of The Closet
Article by Peter Layne Talyor, published in Forbes Online 5/31/16
Every guy needs to admit this one honest truth: Feeling that you’re getting old sucks, no matter what your age. We all look in the mirror every morning and judge ourselves by how we look.
The numbers also don’t lie. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, over 400,000 U.S. men received “Brotox” (a.k.a. Botox for men) injections in 2014. That’s a tiny fraction of American males overall, but a 337 percent increase in any market over a decade is nothing to scowl at (pun intended).
What makes the explosive growth in “Brotox” (which includes the three currently FDA approved injectables—Botox Cosmetic, Dysport, and Xeomin) fascinating, however, isn’t the market numbers. It’s the psychology and shame that’s still associated with it. I’m going to lay much of this blame at the boots of the Marlboro man and the advertising industry.
For centuries, women have been held to a far higher standard when it comes to aging so it’s a modern, socially acceptable norm that many of them will willingly go under the needle or knife to reset nature’s clock. Men, by contrast, have long worn their wrinkles and sun damage as a public badge of endurance, hard work, experience, and sacrifice. The “Ram-tough” guy throwing 100-pound bales of hay into the back of his Dodge pickup during the Superbowl ad definitely doesn’t have a smooth, flat forehead. High-profile celebrities like Robert Redford who have rocked their creases for decades on the red carpet have also perpetuated the psychological baseline that it’s better for men to remain au natural.
“There’s definitely still a stigma out there that men are vain if they want to look younger”, Jason Bloom, M.D., of the Main Line Center for Laser Surgery in Philadelphia tells me, “And vanity goes against everything that most men have been taught about ‘being a man’”.
Bloom, 37, is one of the most well respected (and wrinkle-free) facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons in the country. He’s also being polite about Brotox shaming. In today’s Kardashian Age you’d think that any ‘brand ambassadorship’ would be an easy sell. Not so when it comes to male facial cosmetic injections. Bloom was on a medical advisory board that helped to market Dysport (a competitor to Botox) after its FDA approval in 2010. Bloom noted to the company that the name itself was conveniently “manly” because it included the word “sport”. A number of professional athletic tough guys (think current and former famous football players) were floated as potential spokesmen. The offers are still floating.
With nothing riding on my own public image, I decided last month to be my own Brotox brand ambassador guinea pig, partially encouraged by my wife who for two years has been telling me that I have a “resting bitch scowl” because of the “Elevens” (a.k.a. Devil’s horns) between my eyes.
Bloom injected me recently with Dysport to relax my “Elevens” and the oceanic forehead lines I earned from years of living in south Florida after college. Ever since I’ve been cheerfully telling everyone I know that I just got Brotox and my un-scientific pool of evidence pretty much sums up why most men who do actually get Brotox want to park by the dumpsters and pretend that they’re picking up their wife when they walk into the office.
My mother was the first person to shriek, “You did what?!”.
My brother and a few of my friends told me that getting “facial muscular relaxation” made me a “sissy”. (That’s a euphemism for the actual word they called me which rhymes more closely with “fussy”). At least a dozen people that I didn’t tell who I haven’t seen in a year remarked at how young I looked for 44. I work out regularly and my wife juices for us every day, but it wasn’t the elliptical machine and pineapples that they were noticing.
The truth is that Dr. Bloom’s Brotox injections made me look younger, which meant I felt less old. That’s the other side of Brotox psychology that no one wants to talk openly about. Most men, though loathe to admit it, are just as vain as their female counterparts. They’ll drop four figures treating premature hair loss and balding and hit the gym every morning to keep their gut in check. But when it comes to the wrinkles on their face being a “fussy” is still more shameful than getting a manicure. It’s time for men to get over it.
Feeling young feels good and restores confidence. It also just might give you an edge at your next job interview and improve your sex life. The stats back that up. 15% of Dr. Bloom’s Botox and Dysport patients are now male (up from single digits just a few years ago). The current average age (42) of first time patients is going down every year. His youngest patient recently was 28.
So what’s driving the 337% growth in a decade?
First and foremost, according to Bloom, a new generation of men is finally accepting that caring about how you look as you get older doesn’t make you a “fussy”. “Admitting vanity doesn’t make you weak”, says Bloom. Celebrities like Simon Cowell and others who have recently owned up to their own injectables haven’t damaged their reputations. Says Bloom, “It makes you honest. Just admit it.”
Men also feel pressured to look youthful in a still highly competitive job market, says Bloom. Furrowed brows and “Elevens” don’t represent industry experience the way they used to so being able to come across seasoned as well as youthful is often the ticket to nailing your next big promotion against the Millennial who’s leveraging age against you.
Then there’s social media. Like it or not, we are now all judged for our online personas whether it’s LinkedIn LNKD +%, Facebook FB -0.04%, Instagram, or Twitter TWTR -2.27%. Look old, dour, and uninspiring online and say hello to the kiss of social media death. When it comes to getting yourself back into the dating market, it’s even more brutal. When a two-second swipe of approval on Tinder is based solely on how you look on an iPhone, you’d better look your best. For those men who are still happily married, the beauty of Brotox is that your wife will never know what your thinking for at least six months. Trust me. It's fun.
One last note to Brotox candidates: choose your facial plastic surgeon wisely. The only difference between bad Brotox and a bad breast job is that Brotox is temporary.