Why would a 74-year-old man willingly submit to having incisions made on either side of his head, the skin pulled tight then sliced off, and then the incisions sewn up for the hard work of recovery to begin: weeks of bruising and swelling through artificially taut skin?
To pick up chicks, of course.
That was the case with Alejandro Fernandez, a 74-year-old Floridian whose facelift – described above – was documented on the TLC show body/Work. His wife had died, but not his libido. In fact, his libido was what kept him young and in shape. As he said on the show, “I don’t pick up weights; I pick up women.”
Trending: Older Men Under the Knife
Newspapers have expended a lot of ink writing about septuagenarian women with breast lifts, raising the inevitable question of whether these ladies are exercising their right to look their best well into old age or simply submitting to our youth-obsessed society’s pressure to look young forever. But it turns out older men are increasingly going under the knife, too. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 1.25 million men, most of them seniors, had surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures in 2012, a 5% increase from the previous year and a 22 percent increase from 2000.
Miami-based plastic surgeon Carlos Wolf, MD, says he’s seen the number of male patients in his practice rise 30 percent over 30 years; and the first reason why, he says, is clear: “Younger women – whether they admit it or not.” The second reason: “Younger women!”
In Defense of Male Ego?
In some cases, it’s not about women, but sexual prowess in general. Psychiatrist and author Loren Olson hit 60 and, with his kids out of college and alimony payments finished, decided to direct some funds toward a lifelong source of shame: gynecomastia, otherwise known as man boobs. “I felt a sense of urgency about hanging on to my masculinity and sexual function,” he says. His solution: a latter-life breast reduction. Followed by few tweaks to his eyelids, too. “It’s contagious,” he admits.
In some ways, surgery is simply a tool for men to add to their bag of tricks to meet mates – albeit one that comes with possible side effects of stroke and heart attack. But since plastic surgery is all about defying the inevitability of aging, health concerns rarely mitigate men’s desire to change their appearance. Many men, Wolf says, simply “don’t feel as old as they look, and they want the two to match.”
Of course, the increase in older men getting plastic surgery is more complicated than just landing a partner in the sack. We live in a society that allows, perhaps even encourages, such radical alterations of our appearance. While there used to be a stigma against plastic surgery, today’s attitude, Dr. Wolf says, is, “Are you kidding me? You’re not having something done?”
Pressure is certainly part of it, but there’s an economic factor at play, too. Men want to improve their job marketability, and feel they need to compete with their younger counterparts to do so. “It’s not necessarily for beauty,” says Washington, DC-based facial plastic surgeon Houtan Chaboki, MD: “Some working men may have the perception that others at work may see them as older and less adaptable to change in this economy.”
Olson wasn’t among those; he was beginning what he saw as a decade-long winding-down of his practice. But he felt that the surgery delivered on its promise. With his new chest and his lifted lids, “I felt an immediate sense of relief. My sexual function increased,” he says. “And, it feels good to be able to take my shirt off at the beach.”
Of course, just as our notion of acceptable ages at which to get plastic surgery evolves, so does our idea of the younger mate – not every face-lifted grandfather wants a 25-year-old to date.
“If you’re 80 and she’s 60,” Wolf says, “then she’s still a ‘younger woman.’”
What do you think about this trend? Share your 2 cents in the comments below!