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New Wrinkle Men Having Plastic Surgery

Parker Center for Plastic Surgery, New Jersey

The Parker Center in the Media

Dr. Parker featured in The Bergen Record

New Wrinkle: Men Having Plastic Surgery

Increasing numbers of men are waging war against the sagging of age with plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures, convinced that a little work isn’t just for wives or Hollywood hotties.

Paramus plastic surgeon Paul Parker has suctioned fat from the bellies and flanks of lawyers, doctors, and even a Bergen County cop. Dr. Barry DiBernardo injects a plumber with Botox every four months to smooth out wrinkles and frown lines. In Clifton, a “male medi-spa” is offering a $500 discount this month for men to try SmartLipo—which promises to melt fat and contour the skin in the nick of time for Speedo season.

In an era when even George Clooney admits to some eye work, men are more willing to spend thousands to look better. Love handles and jowls, it seems, have no place on an ageless boomer’s body. Tightening a sagging jawline, siphoning fat from the buttocks and beer bellies or removing puffiness around the eyes gives men confidence and a leg up in the business world, physicians said.

“We’re seeing an increase in the number of men who want plastic surgery,” said Parker, owner of the Paramus-based Parker Center.

Men underwent more than 1 million cosmetic procedures last year, an increase of 17 percent from 2006, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The major growth area for men has been in non-surgical procedures such as Botox injections, lip plumping, and skin resurfacing. Those jumped 21 percent from 2006 to 2007, the society said.

Many of Parker’s new male patients are the husbands of his female clients—women who have had tummy tucks, breast enlargements and facial “rejuvenation.”

“It’s almost like the man sees his wife as the guinea pig, and he sees that it wasn’t so bad and the results are great,” Parker said.

DiBernardo, who has offices in Paramus and Montclair, performed liposuction on a 50-year-old health products salesman last November, siphoning yellow globs of fat from unwanted rolls on his lower abdomen.

“Fifty is now 40, for sure. You want to look that way, too,” said the patient, who declined to be identified because he didn’t want his clients in North Jersey to know about his surgery.

Meanwhile, a 60-year-old doctor from Demarest spent more than $20,000 on a face and neck lift. The hooding around his eyes made people ask if he was fatigued, he said.

“I’m a very energetic person who exercises a lot, and I look tired,” he said. Then he noticed he was purchasing dress shirts with larger neck sizes to accommodate a growing gobbler. “I hate my neck, too,” he said to himself.

When he broached the idea of eye surgery to his wife, she minced no words: “Just do everything. You’ll regret it if you only have your eyes done.”

“When you consider how beauty-obsessed our culture is—people have to have toilet-bowl white teeth today—why not fix what you can?” the Demarest doctor said.

Not only are men more willing to have cosmetic surgery, they’re doing it younger, area doctors said. Parker is among the many surgeons who report treating growing numbers of men in their 30s and 40s who, despite workouts and diet, can’t seem to lose extra padding on their hips. For one of these patients, Parker removed fat from the hips and abdomen and transferred the fat into the 178-pound man’s buttocks—a J. Lo special of sorts.

These patients also are having their lips plumped and have discovered skin peels to erase lines and sun damage, Parker said.

Nationally, the most common surgical procedures for men, ranked by popularity, include liposuction, eyelid surgery, nose work, male breast reduction and hair transplants, according to the plastic surgery society. The most common knifeless procedures for men are Botox, with more than 329,519 injections last year; laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, fillers to plump up sagging cheeks and laser skin resurfacing.

Websites now have special sections for male clients, and some centers have launched advertising campaigns to let men know it’s their turn to try the procedures women have relied upon. Indeed, on Parker’s Web site, a 37-year-old patient looks buff in a black Speedo after undergoing ultrasonic liposuction to remove fat from his abdomen and love handles.

DiBernardo said he treats four or five male patients a month. Two weeks ago, he performed a tummy tuck on a man who had lost a lot of weight that left skin hanging around his abdomen. He recently operated on a professional athlete who was very fit but couldn’t shave the fat from his lower abdomen, DiBernardo said.

“They come in like everyone else and say, ‘This is bothering me; what can we do about it?’ ” DiBernardo said. Gaining ground among men is breast reduction surgery, which corrects a condition universally reviled, thanks to the “Seinfeld” episode in which Kramer and George’s father invented the “bro” or the “manziere,” the world’s first male bra.

Dr. Rick Winters, a Hackensack plastic surgeon, said about 10 percent of his clients are male, and the number has increased steadily in recent years.

But there are procedures he won’t perform: implants in the calf, buttocks and pectoral muscles. The implants can migrate and cause nerve damage, an explanation some clients aren’t eager to hear.

“In the workforce and in society, this whole idea that people have is, 60 is the new 50 and 50 is the new 40,” he said. “It’s not unusual for men to want to have the appearance of being somewhat younger.”

WRITTEN BY MARY JO LAYTON, STAFF WRITER FOR THE RECORD ONLINE EDITION