As aesthetic treatments become more commonplace for men, I see more and more men are seeking aesthetic enhancements to their faces. Often, my male patients come in to my office asking me to “get rid of this line or that” or “make his face sharper”. However, for men, it is never that simple – treating men really requires an eye for male beauty, or the outcome be be less than desirable.
Male Beauty – Some Imperfections are Attractive
Yes, I believe some lines on the face make a man more attractive – the horizontal forehead lines, the naso-labial fold, and some crow’s feet. Not excessive though, but just enough to suggest that this man has been through some of life’s journeys. Don’t believe me? Look at George Clooney when he was young (as a guest star in an episode of Golden Girls in 1986) and now. He was already good looking then, but the greyed hair, stubble and wrinkles have some somehow added a million points to his sex appeal.
What makes a man beautiful? In my opinion – masculine features. There are some very distinguishing features which make us look like men – a square, strong jaw, low set eyebrows, a square chin, a flat forehead, a wider face. These are facial features which appear because of the influence of testosterone on our skin and bone structure.
And, facial hair, and lines.
Male Beauty – Different Perspectives
I often explain to my male patients that there are really 2 very different male looks pple consider to be attractive:
The classic “strong” masculine look I described above, seen in celebrities such as Channing Tatum and George Clooney, Or the androgynous “Korean” look which we see in so many Korean stars. This is characterised by a sharper face shape, fuller cheeks, flawless skin, and a more feminine, “scholarly” appearance. Bae Yong Jun and Lee Min Ho exhibit these features very well.
Both looks are aesthetically pleasing, and there are many men and women who prefer one of the other – After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, it is important to remember that even in the “Korean” look, some degree of masculinity is retained. The line between being handsome and pretty is very fine, and only the very experienced can balance the two well.
Never Chase Lines
Many people are obsessed with their lines: “Doctor, I really hate my laugh lines/crow’ feet/ forehead lines. You MUST get rid of them.” My patients sometimes go on and on.. It is almost hypnotic, and even for me, it takes some mental training not to fall into the trap of doing what they want.
You see, with advancing technology and improved techniques, we now can literally eliminate any line or fold on the face. But that is the pitfall of cosmetic treatments – chasing lines, and this is even more so in men. Aging inevitably gives some lines on the face, and we have to accept a certain degree of sagging, folds and fine lines as we age, otherwise, we risk “overdone”, or worse, like an alien from another planet.
If you look at Hollywood celebrity Sylvester Stallone, you will notice some very striking features. His eyebrows have become higher and more arched – a result of trying to lift the brows to open the eyes. His cheeks are now much fuller compared to his Rambo days – a result of too much fillers, thus feminizing an otherwise masculine face. In an attempt to minimise the expression lines, too much Botox has been put in, causing the smile to look frozen. I find it very disturbing when doctors attempt to fill up lines and hollows to a exaggerated degree which makes someone look more puffy when they were 20 years ago. Something is obviously very wrong with the way we assess and treat our patients. Cosmetic treatments has created the opposite effect of what it was supposed to do to Sylvester, making him look strange and very different from his former self – a result of chasing lines.
Less is More – Aim to Look Fresh – Avoid Feminizing
What then, is the aim of cosmetic treatments for men?
To look fresh, and attractive. And this may not necessary mean filling up every line and hollow, but striking a careful balance. While some lines are acceptable, there should not be too many of them, or too much excess skin, which makes one look tired all the time. The eyes are am important part of the face, and for men, I will rather use fillers to reduce the hollow under the eyes, and skin tightening procedures such as Eye Resuscitationto lift the upper eye lids, rather than use too much Botox, as Botox has the tendency to feminise a male face by erasing too much of the wrinkles, and arching the brows too much. This is another common problem I see all around.
For the lower face, Ulthera is a very good non-invasive procedure to redefine the jaw line and tighten the skin naturally.
Speaking from Personal Experience
I decided to write this article because of the photo right at the top. Both photos were taken at the same place- The Pink Champagne Brunch at Equinox, one in 2011, and the other yesterday in 2013. Besides the noticeable fact that Mr Pink Panther has faded in colour over the years, I was quite aghast to see that I looked like I came straight out of a tabloid featuring plastic surgery gone wrong in the 2011 photo.
2011 was when I was at the height of my craze for aesthetic perfection. I did not like my lines, my nose, my face shape, my bulging tummy, and everything else. And that was the time when I went crazy with Botox and fillers to try to erase every line there was, convinced that they were making me look “old”. I avoided the sun like the plague and underwent weekly lasers to treat my melasma.
Yes, in 2011, I had flawless skin, bigger muscles from obsessive gym sessions and no wrinkles, but something was wrong. Excessive Botox caused my eyebrows to arch upwards, looking very feminine, and my smile to look strange. My face shape became too small from too much Jaw Botox. Too much fillers under the eyes and cheeks caused my face to bunch up when I smile, looking like a woman. And the lack of forehead lines or expression reminds me of Nicole Kidman. In short, I was a plastic surgery disaster.
A friend whom I first met in 2011 told me that he thought I was an insincere person when he first met me, as my smile looked fake. That was what set me thinking about whether I was going the wrong way with cosmetic treatments.
Compare that to the picture on the right, where I have learned to accept my imperfections. My dog rescue work with Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD) makes it impossible to stay out of the sun or hit the gym. My melasma has recurred, and my muscles have deflated. But I think, more importantly, I look like myself again, and I look sincere, once more. I still undergo cosmetic treatments, Botox and fillers, but this time, I got it right. And this is why, I am confident, that I get it right with all my patients as well – I have come full circle, and experienced the right and wrong turns first hand.
“Because every person is unique, the practice of aesthetic medicine is an art as much as a science. The widely held belief that aesthetic medicine comprises only creams and medical procedures is wrong. What we are striving for is a healthier, more confident you. This can only be achieved with a sound diet, a healthy lifestyle, and a balanced mind." ~ Dr Siew Tuck Wah