Growing older and looking good are not mutually exclusive, says Sydney plastic surgeon Dr Darryl Hodgkinson.
I am seeing male patients in the over-50 age group more and more frequently in my clinic. Mostly these are successful men, who for one reason or another find their status in life has changed. Either the family is moving on, they are changing careers, or finding a new direction in their life. Some of them are widowers; some are just encouraged by their wives or partners to look the best they can be. In every instance there is a sense that inside they feel more vital than the way in which the world increasingly perceives them.
Because many men in Australia are involved in outdoor activities, such as golfing, sailing, tennis and surfing as well as team sports, the ravages of the sun take their toll, compounding the problem of normal ageing and deterioration of the quality of the skin. As early as their 40s, and certainly in their 50s, many of these men tend to lose the definition of the jaw and chin and start complaining of a ‘turkey neck’.
Most commonly, men initially choose eyelid surgery and then progress on in their mid-50s to facelifting procedures. Along with facelifting, I often perform chin implant surgery to give or restore a stronger masculine definition to the face. The most important thing, however, is to restore the patient’s jaw and neckline, thereby reducing the saggy ‘turkey neck’ by platysma surgery which addresses not only the skin but also the muscles of the face and neck, removing or recontouring the fat of the jowls and re-draping the skin in a natural way, so as not to distort the earlobes or show any scars.
The incisions from a facelift in a male are different from those in a female, in that the incision goes carefully into a crease in front of the ear and does not distort the beard line, whereas in a woman, the incision goes behind the tragus of the ear and into the ear. Experience in the specific aesthetics and techniques for male surgery are important to achieve natural-looking results. Men are just as, if not more, terrified as women of having the look of having been ‘operated on’.
Males do have a slightly higher incidence of haematoma – this is because their skin is irritated from years of shaving and tends to bleed easily – so the surgeon must be aware of this potential complication. Even so, we always perform the surgery on healthy patients on an outpatient surgical basis and the patient returns home or to a local facility, with one of our private nurses for one-on-one overnight care to reduce the chance of a haematoma or significant bruising. Most patients take about 10 days off work and gradually resume their active lifestyle in four to six weeks.
Another procedure commonly sought by men is rhinoplasty or nose reshaping surgery. This procedure, like body contouring surgery, spans the age range from young to mature age.
Many mature-age men who sustained fractures to their nose and had subsequent breathing problems, or who formerly considered corrective surgery as too vain, are seeking not only to have their breathing corrected but also to improve the appearance of their nose. Indeed, men are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of feeling good about their appearance.
While cosmetic surgery in the mature age male tends to concentrate primarily on the face, an increasing number of men are seeking body contour surgery such as liposuction/ liposculpture to their ‘love handles’ or ‘man boobs’ to counteract the extra weight many gain in their middle years. This, too, goes in hand with maintaining an active lifestyle and wearing of swimwear, sports gear and fitted clothing, especially with the rise of male fashion consciousness.
We all know that ‘baby boomers’ are living longer lives. It is believed that 50 percent of people in Australia now over the age of 65 will live to 100 years. With this in mind, retirement in one’s 60s is no longer such an attractive or financially viable option. Staying active in the workforce maintains more than one’s standard of living but also one’s self-esteem and connectedness. The baby boomers also have a lot to offer in the way of experience and expertise.
As more and more men, and baby boomers in particular, reassess their futures and their capacity to remain vital professionally and socially, I am sure that we will continue to see an increase in cosmetic plastic surgery for mature-aged men.
To see before and after photographs, visit Dr Hodgkinson’s CosBeauty gallery.