LAST week, Gordon Ramsay admitted that he has had cosmetic surgery to fill in the crevices – smile lines, as he called them – on his chin. The most astonishing thing is not that a man with a media career has had work done, but that he has admitted it.
Only a few years ago, it was considered unmanly to worry too much about your looks – or at least, to tell people that you wasted your precious time worrying about such trivialities. The truth, though, is that in those industries in which looks matter, men are increasingly likely to resort to the scalpel or the botox needle.
That’s nowhere more true than in the City. Dr Miles Althorp, a plastic surgeon at Golborne Place in Ladbroke Grove and Harley Street, says that in the past year he has started seeing a lot of 30-something professionals, who are just beginning to notice signs of ageing. “At the moment it’s very important for everyone to look like they’re ahead of the game,” he says. “You need to hack it without looking haggard.”
POWER AND SUCCESS
There is certainly a perceived link between a pleasing, healthy appearance and job success. A recent US survey from the American Association of Plastic Surgeons found that 84 per cent of respondents said that they believe physical attractiveness is important for power and success on the job; almost half felt that improving one thing about their face would help their career and a third believe that a youthful appearance would positively impact their job success.
A recent survey by City recruitment firm Hays found that over a third of respondents said they spend more time on appearance due to the added competition for jobs in the recession, and 90 per cent of respondents said they spent more time getting ready for an interview than a night out.
Across all parts of society, there is a growing trend for men to go under the knife. These days, the number of men getting fat reduction treatments is equal to the number of women, says Althorp.
The rise in men seeking corrective surgery, he adds, is due in part to the fact that the taboo has lessened – its just not considered odd or outlandish any more. “Men are just as vain as women. But there’s this macho thing about getting caught out, so they’ll not tell anyone. But they’ll get the stuff done – five years ago it would have been all women in the waiting room.” Liz Dale, a director of the Harley Medical Group, which has a clinic in the City, agrees, saying 20 per cent of patients are male: “Not long ago it was maybe one man in the waiting room, hiding behind a newspaper.”
However, that is not the whole story. The fact is, our conception of what a successful man looks like has changed. In the old days, having a belly and a war-torn look that spoke of many long and boozy lunches may have actually engendered respect. Now, looking overweight or unhealthy can damage impressions.
“What the men say is just that they don’t want to look tired and stressed,” says Dale. “It’s not even that they want to look younger – they just want to look well.”
She says that men are less bothered about looking more attractive – if they’ve broken their nose then they want it straightened, but they’d be less likely to get a nose job just for the sake of it.
Both Dale and Althorpe say that – along with a wrinkle-reducing botox injection – the most popular surgical procedures for men are fat reductions – “moobs” (or man boobs) first and foremost, then belly fat and double chins. The number of men having breast reductions has risen by 1,000 per cent in the UK over the last five years, according to BAAPS (the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) and is only gathering speed.
PUTTING IN EFFORT
Sara Hollamby, a City image consultant, agrees men are more preoccupied about their appearance than is commonly assumed and that now, more than ever, they’re putting the effort in. “People like to do business with people who look well, because they feel, sub-consciously, that they’re going to do a good job. If you look worn out, tired and finished, people won’t feel you’ll do as good a job and men know that.”
Men do take great care about how they look – Hollamby says that whenever she does a seminar or workshop, it’s the men who are the most interested in skin care – perhaps because they’ve never been taught like women have. “Women can enhance their looks with makeup,” she says, “whereas men have to do it with the bare flesh alone.”
COSMETIC LIFT WHAT CITY MEN ARE CHOOSING
• Non-Surgical (starting at £200): botox for frown, forehead, smile lines, and skin peels (a flow of fine crystals are sent over the face and vacuumed away, taking the top layer of dead skin too).
• Surgical (from £2,000): “moob” reduction, also known as gynaeplasty, tummy tucks (abdominoplasty) and double chin reduction. Techniques include Vaser, a chopstick-like probe with an ultrasonic beam that melts up to 2.5 litres of fat at once; and “smart lipo”, a laser technique used on smaller areas, favoured for a tightening effect, removes half a litre of fat at a time.