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Posted: December 29, 2010

Men and the lipstick factor

A little "nip/tuck" can help in the boardroom and beyond

Gregory Buford

In these trying economic times, people are literally trying anything to maintain their competitive edge. And in the world of cosmetic surgery, it is no different. Whether we like it or not, how we look has a tremendous impact on how we present ourselves and how competitive we truly are. As such, both men and women are looking for ways to get ahead in a world where the rules are seemingly changing at a very rapid pace.

For men, the world of cosmetic surgery has always been something that someone else does and was pretty much relegated to the female gender. However, men are now realizing that a gentle "nip tuck" here and there can not only make them look as optimal as possible for their age but it can also give them an advantage in the boardroom, bedroom and beyond.

During the Great Depression, what little money was available was spent not only on the bare necessities but also on three main vices: alcohol, cigarettes, and prostitution. However, a fourth area grew increasingly popular for discretionary income and that was the area of cosmetics. From this, the notion of the "lipstick factor" was born. Although they barely had enough money to feed their family, many women saved back what they could for lipstick. Why lipstick? Many experts feel that the low price point as well as the dramatic positive impact it had on their self-image played a key role in the growth and sales of the lipstick industry during tough times. And so what does this have to do with men?

My personal feeling is that the use of cosmetic surgery and procedures such as BOTOX Cosmetic and fillers for men actually dates back to the Internet Boom. During this time, 40 year-old executives found themselves competing with much younger 20 "somethings" with big dreams and new ideas. And during this time, it was common to create a company based solely on an idea and an image with very little substance in-between. The result was that men were essentially competing with the energy and the image of youth and were forced to reassess their own image. And while the Internet Boom has certainly changed since that time, I believe that its results can still be felt.

In her landmark book, Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty, author and Harvard psychologist Nancy Etcoff argues that the desire for beauty is an innate primal force and one that is ingrained literally within our DNA. As such, beauty is power and the way that we present ourselves and the way that we are seen by others plays a huge role in survival both inside and outside the workplace. And whether we like it or not, like books we are judged by our proverbial cover and (fair or not), looking our very best can be a tremendously powerful way to attain and retain a competitive edge.

And so while women have (consciously or unconsciously) known this for some time, men are now grasping the importance of presentation and the innate ability to influence those around them by the way that they look. In the world of cosmetic surgery, the most common procedures we are seeing generally involve basic body contouring (a little off the love handles), eyelid reshaping, and smoothing of facial lines and wrinkles. For the most part, men are looking for subtle changes to soften the effects of time without affecting their credibility. They want very little downtime, they want to look refreshed, but they don't want to look different. And, they want to be taken seriously.

Given these constraints, it is now even more important for this new consumer to know just who is performing their procedure. As the entire healthcare industry undergoes sweeping changes, more and more practitioners are fleeing insurance-based practices and entering the world of elective, cash-based medicine. And as they do so, many are entering this world with little training and very little knowledge of the aesthetic consumer other than what they have absorbed in a weekend course.

And the result? Now, more than ever, the consumer (male or female) needs to ask their provider more questions about their training, experience, and ability to actually perform these specific procedures. As I inform my clients, it is always easiest to get the job done right in the first place than it is to correct an unfortunate result. And, considering that many of the procedures being performed are facial procedures, for a busy executive there is no room for error.

That being said, cosmetic procedures can potentially give you that extra competitive edge in the workplace but you need to know what to ask of your practitioner. Ask them if they are board certified (if so, in what specialty), ask how many of these procedures they have performed, and always ask to see their results. For an experienced aesthetic practitioner, an informed client is an asset, and realistic expectations are the foundation of good results!
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Boasting a long list of accolades and accreditations, Dr. Gregory Buford is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who has been a featured expert on numerous television talk shows, plastic surgery websites, books, magazines, and newspapers, including Vogue, ABCNews.com, and Plastic Surgery Advisor. Dr. Buford recently co-authored the book, Beauty and the Business, which teaches clinicians, practitioners, and medical office owners how to operate a successful medical practice. To learn more about Dr. Buford and his practice, visit www.beautybybuford.com.

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