In the days leading up to his 30th birthday, Nick, an engineer living in Vancouver, was feeling kind of anxious.
He had everything he had hoped to have by that age – a well-paying job, a new house, a fancy car, true love – but he still couldn't shake his jitters.
And so, on the afternoon of the actual day, he swung by his doctor and had several units of Botox injected into the slight furrows in his brow. Thirty may have felt old to him, but there was no reason he had to look it.
Despite his relative youth, Nick (not his real name) isn't the only young guy trying to stop aging in its tracks. Although Canada doesn't collect statistics on cosmetic procedures, a 2010 report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons revealed that the fastest-growing non-surgical procedures sought out by men aged 20 to 29 are injections of Botox and soft-tissue fillers like Juvéderm and Restylane. It's a trend that many Canadian dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons are observing in their own clinics as well.
"These treatments are fairly non-aggressive, [they]have no downtime and the results are subtle – the guys love them," Marc DuPéré, a cosmetic plastic surgeon and owner of Toronto's popular Visage Clinic, says, adding that they also appreciate the preventive aspect of fillers.
"Taking care of wrinkles earlier makes it harder for them to reappear later in life," he claims.
Linda Ptito, a Montreal-based GP who has been injecting faces for 25 years, has also noted an influx of young males requesting fillers. "Everyone does it now," she says, citing a wide range of patient types, including a few construction workers, among her regular clientele. If some straight men are too shy to come alone, she adds, they will bring their wives in with them. "It's often the wife who will point to her husband's face and say, 'You should have this done and this and this ...'"
To be sure, the metrosexual phenomenon has destigmatized many grooming treatments, such as facials and pedicures, once considered girly. Cosmetic procedures such as fillers, however, have tended until recently to remain squarely in the realm of women, who these days hold Botox parties the way many used to host and attend Tupperware parties. So why are young men suddenly open to wrinkle fillers and the like? DuPéré thinks that changes in the thrust and subject matter of commercial advertising have had something to do with it. "Years ago, it was mostly young women being used to sell cars, beer, everything. Now young men are being used to sell products just as much, and this has brought a lot of attention to how men look."
Consider the current masculine ideal on display in ads for everything from Aldo shoes to Prada men's wear. The baby-faced "men" fronting such brands look barely out of their teens. A quick glance at the highest-ranked male models on models.com – the rankings are based on the number of ad campaigns and magazine pages booked – confirms how popular such faces are: Eight of the top 10 are 21 or younger.
Is it any wonder that guys who really shouldn't be worrying about looking old are suddenly feeling over the hill?
Although most male-grooming companies have moved well beyond deodorant and shaving cream, offering anti-aging products that run the gamut from face wash to eye gel, many guys would rather drop a few hundred dollars on a few quick and relatively painless jabs from a needle to achieve a youthful mien.
"I don't have time to wait for some potion to work its magic," Steven, a 27-year-old lawyer in Windsor, Ont., says.
Steven (not his real name) had his first Botox fix at 25 and would consider a filler if his laugh lines – a.k.a. nasolabial folds – get any deeper. "The world's a competitive place; if I want to meet the right girl and get the good job, I need to look my best, like, yesterday."
If age concerns among twentysomethings may strike some as peculiar, they don't shock Craig Lund, president of Marketing Talent Inc., a staffing firm that services the Canadian marketing industry. In today's cutthroat job market, Lund says, "what gets you in the door is your résumé and experience. But if it comes down to two candidates of equal qualifications and one guy looks well rested and fit while the other looks tired and out of shape, guess who gets the job?" The results achieved by fillers "are going to be pretty subtle," he adds, "but they would certainly effect how you feel about yourself." The confidence such treatments might instill is another asset in a job interview, he suggests.
For Nick, the Vancouver engineer, the decision to get Botox wasn't job-related, but precipitated by his older brother's teasing about his forehead wrinkles.
Even so, Nick says, he is happy with the outcome of his birthday gift to himself and expects such treatments to become routine occurrences.
Now that he's (only just) on the other side of 30, he notes, "Botox is just something I'll likely be adding to my regimen."
Special to The Globe and Mail