Men could be from Mars, while women might come from Venus, but increasingly men are beginning to share the view that appearances matter to everyone. Whether they wish to increase their chances of finding love, securing a job, improving their image at work, to please a partner, regain youthfulness, or to boost self-image, more men are seeking cosmetic treatments worldwide.

Recent statistics show that Australian men are catching up to the global trend and are increasingly opting for cosmetic procedures. The 2012 annual survey conducted by the Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia (CPSA) in collaboration with Costhetics.com.au revealed that nearly 40 percent of the participants know men who have undergone cosmetic medical treatments like laser hair removal, IPL skin rejuvenation or anti-wrinkle injections. Nearly a quarter also knew men who have had cosmetic surgery.

Participants of the CPSA-Costhetics survey were predominantly female (97%) and were fully supportive of a man’s right to have cosmetic procedures. Over 63 percent said they were currently living with partners.

When given the choice between ‘There are things I would like to change about my partner’s appearance’ and ‘I like my partner just the way he/she is’, 735 of the 751 survey participants made a choice; and nearly one third (31%) noted that they would like to change things about their partner’s appearance.

The changes they would like to see included weight (36%), stomach (32%), hair (27%), facial aspects like loss of volume or sagging jowls (23%), wrinkles (19%) and veins/sunspots (17%). A few expressed the desire to see changes in their partner’s chest, bottom, ears and nose, among other things.

The participants’ attitudes towards men having cosmetic enhancement provide an indication of how Australian attitudes are changing. An overwhelming majority (97%) thought it more acceptable now than in the past for men to have non-surgical cosmetic treatments like laser hair removal, anti-wrinkle injections or microdermabrasion. Similarly, 92 percent felt it more acceptable for men to undergo cosmetic surgery such as a breast reduction or nose surgery than in the past.

When asked ‘What do you think about men who have cosmetic treatments?’, 714 of the 751 survey participants answered the question, selecting from among multiple options. “I think every man has the right to choose if they want to have a cosmetic treatment”, said 65 percent of the respondents, while 42 percent felt “It’s great that men now have these options available to them”. Nearly 40 percent of the respondents ticked the option, “If women can choose to have a treatment, why can’t men”.

A very small minority were opposed to the idea of men opting for cosmetic medicine. “I think it’s a bit odd”, said 4 percent of those who answered this question. “I think it’s vain”, said 2 percent. Nearly 7 percent found it a turn-off. Just a handful (0.7%) found men who have cosmetic treatments a turn-on.

Over 65 percent of the survey participants claimed to have had one or more non-surgical cosmetic procedures. The most popular procedures cited were anti-wrinkle treatments (muscle relaxation), dermal filler treatment such as lip plumping and treatments for nose to mouth folds, microdermabrasion and laser/IPL hair removal. Over 80 percent said their reasons for the procedures were purely aesthetic, such as to reduce signs of ageing or to gain fuller lips.

When asked how likely they were to consider having a non-surgical cosmetic treatment in the future, half the participants deemed it likely, while 15 percent said they definitely would. The rest (35%) said they were either unlikely or highly unlikely to consider it.

“Australians are embracing cosmetic medicine at an increasing rate”, says Louisa McKay, Director of Costhetics. “A press release from the CPSA last April revealed a 15 percent increase in spending on non- and minimally-invasive treatments in the previous 12 month period. This figure represents an estimated total spend of $644.7 million, which is double that of the $300 million estimate by the CPSA for 2008”.

“It is good to see Australian men embracing the global trend and having cosmetic procedures. Australian women are far more supportive of the idea than most of us would have imagined. I find the survey results encouraging. I believe many men would too.”

“If we consider this a good trend, there is also a serious downside to it: that of a few unscrupulous practitioners promising unrealistic outcomes, thereby misleading consumers.”

“Consumers seeking cosmetic medicine may have difficulty in Australia right now. Those people who undergo procedures, without firstly researching the credentials and experience of their cosmetic practitioners, surgeons or service providers, are taking horrendous risks in search of a better appearance.”

“At Costhetics we want to change that. A well-informed consumer is a safe consumer. We provide extensive education on our website, urging consumers to consider the importance of checking qualifications, affiliations, and the experience of cosmetic doctors and service providers.”

“Just as importantly, Australia needs to work towards a regulatory framework that not only covers the cosmetic industry, but also non-medically qualified service providers, like beauty spas, beauty salons and clinics that offer non-surgical and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures to Australian consumers. Nothing can really replace a solid regulatory framework in keeping our consumers safe from unscrupulous elements.”

“For our part,” says McKay, “we will continue our mission to help consumers understand cosmetic procedures and their multiple options before making a decision. Information on the latest procedures and the science underlying them is our aim.”

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