For years it was a product reserved for celebrities looking to boost their beauty and help keep their glamorous selves on the front pages for a few more years.
Then came the rich and (not so) famous, fashion-conscious women seeking to emulate their idols in the looks department.
Lately it has become a routine feature in many women’s beauty procedures; as much a part of their life as luxury manicures and facials.
But as Botox has been rejuvenating women from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, LA, to the small community of Holywood in Northern Ireland, a silent revolution has been underway. Move over women – and wait in line behind the men in the clinic.
It seems that in this fast-paced world, an increasing number of men are turning to the non-invasive, anti-ageing procedure to smoothen their wrinkles and earn a competitive edge over their business rivals.
Once it was enough to wear the smartest designer suit and tie. Then came the watch as a statement piece. This was followed by cosmetics giants reacting to men ‘borrowing’ their partners’ beauty products, stocking shelves high with men-only creams and gels. Now you can add Botox to the list of male must-haves.
But while it is becoming more commonplace in the boardroom and society in general, the majority of men who are using non-natural methods to look young are refusing to own up to their secret of looking younger.
Indeed, while some opt for fitting the treatment into their hectic schedule by visiting the clinic in their lunch break (the lack of bruising and swelling means the procedure can pass unnoticed by colleagues), others go to far greater lengths to avoid being uncovered, and travel to out-of-town practitioners – or even jet off halfway around the world.
‘They hope people will comment on how their relaxing holiday has taken years off them rather than how effective their treatment has been,’ said one doctor.
According to statistics from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), Botulinum Toxin, (including Botox, Dysport and Xeomin) was ranked the most popular procedure overall in 2013 alone with a total of 5,145,189, among which 643,675 were men.
Dr Alexandre Dionyssopoulos, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Dubai Cosmetic Surgery as well as a professor in cosmetic surgery, says men having Botox is a growing trend in the UAE too.
‘Of the top non-invasive cosmetic procedures, Botox takes the prize among men,’ says Dr Alex, adding that 20 to 25 per cent of his Botox clients are men. ‘Most of the men who come for Botox have always one thing in mind, which is to look a few years younger by drastically reducing the wrinkles on their faces.
‘When you look at the workplace, older guys in their mid-30s and 40s are forced to compete with younger guys. And while some are confident about their jobs, others might not be, and so would like to have their healthy lunch with a side of Botox to improve their looks.
‘Doing a little work here and there to your looks in order to advance your career or gain some self-confidence is a good thing. And to make it even better, only a man who has had Botox will recognise another Botox user.’
While his UAE clinic is seeing demand rocket, many Middle Eastern men are choosing to travel overseas for their treatment, often encouraged by their wives or partners who have successfully undergone procedures of their own and recommend it to boost the looks of the man in their life.
Dr Ayham Al-Ayoubi, who runs the London Medical & Aesthetic Clinic in London, has seen a 300 per cent increase in the non-surgical procedure among men in recent years, including a huge number of patients who go to him from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar, as well as London. He estimates 35-40 per cent of patients at his exclusive clinic are male, of whom 30 per cent are from the Gulf. ‘All of us are trying to make ourselves slim and look good,’ he says.
‘Worldwide people are more aware of looking good and slim. Young men started going to the gym to lose weight. It shows in the face when you lose weight. In our 30s, we start to lose huge amounts of collagen and fibroblasts between the tissues, which leads to wrinkles.
‘Our treatment gives a long-lasting result for patients with a fresher and younger look. It gets him back five to 10 years in terms of appearance.’
The doctor says a majority of his male patients are young professionals. ‘There has been a significant increase in professionals having treatment because when they go to work in the city they want to look young,’ he says.
‘It significantly helps their job prospects in IT and the financial sector, which are always looking for young active professional people. They want to have a good appearance for their interview if they think they look under the weather.
‘Botox or a filler can help. In all my treatments, my motto is, I try to enhance but preserve natural beauty. Treatments help people look younger but keep a natural appearance.
‘Women have played a significant role in men having treatments,’ he says. ‘They have made them aware that it’s simple, natural and gives quick results.
‘Before, men imagined it was major plastic surgery or a frozen face, but now they have seen their partners looking good, it encourages them.’
Dr Susan Mayou from the Cadogan Clinic in London has seen a surge in men around 45-years-old attending her clinic for Botox.
She explains: ‘My patients include people who face a critical audience for their jobs, such as those who lecture or train others to improve their business. They are trying to empower others so have to look credible.
‘This treatment is out there now and it’s accessible. It’s an extension of men doing more about their skincare, all part of male grooming. It makes them feel better because they look better. They perform better when they feel confident.
‘It’s an extension of having a smart suit.’
In Canada, too, clinics have seen an increase in bookings from men.
Dr Sachit Shah from the Beautiful Canadian Laser and Skincare Clinic, near Vancouver, performs 3,000 procedures a year on women and around 600 on men.
He says: ‘Botox and fillers in men have been enormous here in Vancouver. I would say it has probably doubled over the last five years.
‘Often, they want to look good as they face competition from younger men in the workplace and often the wives will get the men to come in. The pressure to look refreshed is very intense.’
ASPS president Scot Glasberg, who owns a private practice in Manhattan, New York City, said he treats men from across the city, the country, Europe and the Middle East, and is seeing continuous growth in demand.
He says his patients are getting younger and younger when they make their first appointment.
‘People are looking for subtle procedures,’ he explains. ‘They don’t want everyone to know they’ve had cosmetic surgery.
‘It’s not uncommon for 30-year-olds to come in because they think it will stave off the ageing process.
‘Men want to be able to go back to work and have people tell them they look like they’ve had a good sleep or vacation, not that they’ve had treatment.
‘They want to have it in their downtime, ideally, like in their lunch hour.’
He usually suggests his patients come back every six months. ‘But if you are the type of person who is constantly looking in the mirror, it might be less,’ he says.
‘There is a whole psychology around it. They’ve usually spoken to a colleague or someone who has had it done and says how easy it is. They want to know it’s quick and people won’t know they have had it done.’ Dr Glasberg has treated people wanting to look younger for job interviews and lists professional and blue-collar workers as regular patients.
‘I want them to feel better about themselves but there is also something of a Wall St etiquette – men wanting to fit into a certain look depending on where they work.
‘It’s a competitive world and they want to do their best and that also means looking their best.’
He said work had been undertaken to help overcome the stigma previously associated with cosmetic surgery and other anti-ageing procedures.
‘We have come a long way but a lot of guys still don’t like admitting to it.’