Male Enhancement
Why men are increasingly seeking out the expertise of the area’s top aesthetic and cosmetic physicians
by Jennifer Updike


Ozzy Osbourne, who once crooned about darkness and doom as the front man for pioneering heavy-metal band Black Sabbath, is now doing TV spots encouraging men to have their prostate checked. Meanwhile, in public service announcements on CBS, soap-opera star and Philadelphia native Chris Beetem is urging guys to preserve “the family jewels” by getting screened for testicular cancer.


(Click here for a list of 2012 Top Men’s Physicians by Avvo.)


Clearly, change is afoot. It seems the medical community and media are collaborating to prevent and/or cure conditions that have the potential to imperil a man’s life. While health-conscious men are following these prescribed treatments to ensure a long and vibrant life, they are also doing more to make sure they look their best, often with help from skilled physicians. The reason, experts suggest, is because looking good makes a man feel good—and can also have a positive effect on the size of his bank account.


“My group of male patients is expanding faster than the female demographic, and it’s not because we’re seeing any fewer female patients,” says Glenn A. DeBias, D.O., medical director for The Institute for Laser and Aesthetic Medicine, which has offices in Doylestown and King of Prussia. “I must have seen at least six men in the office today. The reason is that more men today are as image oriented as their female counterparts since more and more of the jobs in the United States are in sales and marketing rather than manufacturing.”


In other words: “Older men are competing with younger men and women for career positions, and they need to look their best to win those jobs.”


There’s a definite paradigm shift in how men view themselves today, according to Dr. DeBias, whose services include laser skin resurfacing and cosmetic injections of dermal fillers such as Botox to help men look—and, in turn, feel—younger and more virile. He has witnessed more men coming to his offices in recent years for these and other procedures, such as SmartLipo, which is a popular body-sculpting technique to remove problematic pockets of fat.


“Men are more responsive to procedures that don’t require downtime,” he says. “I started seeing the shift in 2005. More men were getting injectable and laser procedure to refresh their look … without having to worry about surgery. It’s the same with SmartLipo; with one-day downtime, someone can go back to work the next day.


In 2010, which is the last year for which such data was available, approximately 750,000 cosmetic procedures—or 8 percent of the total—were performed on men in the United States, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The top two procedures were lipoplasty and rhinoplasty, and experts expect to see even more men opting for these kinds of interventions in 2012 and beyond.


“Most men—and women, too—don’t like to lose any time away from work, and that’s the great thing about these procedures,” Dr. DeBias adds. “There’s also very little discomfort, and they’re affordable procedures, and all those things combined have contributed to this [paradigm] shift and more frequent use of these procedures, even in a depressed economy.”


Although minimally invasive cosmetic physicians are one thing, some men are taking it a step further by opting for full-scale plastic surgery and, in some highly publicized cases, painful limb-lengthening surgeries to make them taller.


Taking the Time

Based on what Leonard F. Tau, D.M.D., has seen, however, some men can be stubborn about maintaining their appearance—particularly of one of the most aesthetically important parts of the body: the mouth. Dr. Tau, a Blue Bell resident, operates a thriving general, cosmetic, reconstructive and implant dentistry practice in Northeast Philadelphia, drawing patients from the suburbs of Feasterville, Huntingdon Valley and Jenkintown, as well as from places farther afield, namely New York and Washington, D.C.


“Men don’t care about the look of their mouth as much as women do,” he says. “I’d say 85 percent of my Invisalign patients [for teeth straightening] are women. And when men come into the office for a whitening procedure, most of the time they’ll say something like, ‘My wife or girlfriend bought it for me.’


“Even when we do cosmetic dentistry, men have a different mental state than women do,” he continues. “I can count on two hands the number of veneers I’ve done on men this year. They’re just not taking the time to get regular dental care, and that’s a big problem.”


Appearance aside, proper maintenance of the mouth becomes especially critical as people age. People over 50 tend to take medications to address various medical conditions—pain management, allergies, depression, etc.—and many of these medications, according to Dr. Tau, reduce the amount of saliva in one’s mouth, causing “dry mouth” and thereby hastening tooth decay.


Yet tooth decay is the so-called tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems that stem from improper care of the teeth and gums. Science has established firm links between periodontal disease and life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and stroke.


Better put, an unhealthy mouth can kill you.


“All the systems are interrelated, so if you have a problem in one part of the body then it can cause other problems elsewhere,” he says. “Sometimes as we age we get complacent in doing things, but if you ignore these issues they’re only going to get worse and lead to something like gum disease, oral cancer or even something worse.”


With the economic downturn of 2008—slowly recovering but still rife with high unemployment—he has seen factors related to the down economy, such as losing one’s dental insurance, receiving a pay cut or working longer hours, also have an effect on whether men receive proper care.


This is one reason why he believes services such as his oral health savings plan—$295 per year, to include two examinations, two cleanings and any necessary X-rays, with significant discounts on procedures—will help get men back into the dentist’s chair and on the road toward improved health.


In addition, if the experts are telling the story right, it could also lead to a better-looking smile that could spell the difference between winning a job and losing it.


Jennifer Updike is a freelance writer based in New Hope.