updated 2/28/2006 11:50:46 AM ET 2006-02-28T16:50:46

When Dave Mahler got liposuction, his co-workers complimented him, even though many weren’t quite sure what was different about him. “It’s a mental thing that I feel better,” said Mahler, a Bellmore, New York-based designer and installer of communications systems. “It absolutely did make a difference at work.”

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Mahler is one of a growing number of men seeking cosmetic surgery to stay competitive in a workplace where, experts say, the appearance of energy and enthusiasm are now more valued
than age and experience.

Men accounted for 984,903, or 9 percent, of cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures last year, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. That number is
up from 640,240 five years ago.

Men are more likely than women to seek facial cosmetic surgery for work-related reasons, by 22 percent to 15 percent, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and
Reconstructive Surgery.

Among the most popular procedures with men, industry groups say, are liposuction, Botox injections, surgery for lifting eyelids and laser resurfacing and chemical peel skin treatments—all procedures designed to make a patient look younger and fitter.

“One of the biggest drivers in the male marketplace now in cosmetic surgery is men who are 40-plus who use this as a tool to look healthy, to look young, to look vibrant,” said Michael
Atkinson, a sociology professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who has done research on men and cosmetic surgery.

“You do whatever you can either to maintain an edge or to get an edge and for men now, it’s not like you can just rest on your laurels,” Atkinson said.

Gone are the days when the silver-haired elder executive ruled the roost, experts say. Instead, the younger worker looks like the one with the most energy and enthusiasm, they say.

Manhattan plastic surgeon Dr. Alan Matarasso said on a typical day he sees several men, many who work in advertising or on Wall Street.

Looking tired
“The classic thing is somebody will come in and say, ’I’m not tired and people think I look tired all the time,”’ he said.

Dr. Ira Papel, president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, said male patients tell him "they need to get their eyes done or get a little something
trimmed under their chin."

“Even guys in their 40s will tell you they feel old, compared to the 25-year-olds who are working all around them,” he said.

Wendy Lewis, a cosmetic surgery consultant, says about a quarter of her clients are men.
    “It’s a competition thing. They don’t want to be seen as losing power, losing that potency, or as a tired old man,” she said.

One man, she said, contacted her about cosmetic surgery after he was asked to play Santa Claus at a company party and realized he was the oldest-looking man in his office.

Experts say advances in nonsurgical procedures and the popularity of make-over television shows have helped make the concept more appealing to men.

“Traditionally, women have done cosmetic surgery to be competitive along beauty standards,” Atkinson said. “Now men are doing that but for competition in the workplace. These guys
are competing along lines of status and power in a market

Career specialist Mark Swartz said while he’s seen no studies that show cosmetic surgery helps on the job, it makes sense that it could.

“Once they feel that they look younger, it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said the author of “Get Wired, You’re Hired.” “It’s really about attitude and self-perception and self-esteem.

“In this day and age, there is definitely an age discrimination factor. So if you look younger, you do improve your odds.”


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