How To Find A Plastic Surgeon Or Dermatologist Who Specializes In Men
In my life as a beauty and grooming journalist, I’ll try anything once. I’ve lost track of how many doctor’s offices I’ve visited, how many treatments I’ve received, and how many times different doctors have explained procedures to me (often the same way, sometimes not). But when it came to my own cosmetic surgery last year, I was faced with a new dilemma. For all the non-invasive cosmetic procedures I’ve done, I’d never gone under the knife. This was a whole new ballgame and something I did not want to take lightly. And most important to that whole decision was who I chose to actually do it.
So Long, SIMON
I am just one of an increasing number of men seeking out cosmetic procedures, both surgical and non-surgical. As more men crowd the offices of dermatologists and plastic surgeons around the country, the way providers interact with these men is changing. “Twenty years ago there was a term [for the typical male plastic surgery patient] called SIMON, which stood for ‘Single, Immature, Male that is Overly Expectant and Narcissistic,’” says Manhattan-based board certified plastic surgeon Philip Miller, MD. SIMON patients were difficult to satisfy because of their high expectations, which isn’t necessarily a male characteristic but seemed to be common among the kinds of men seeking out aesthetic treatments a few decades ago. This reputation turned every male patient that came into a provider’s office into an immediate red flag.
According to Dr. Miller, who I ultimately chose to perform my surgery, times have changed. “The notion of a male patient automatically being a SIMON is an old perspective. There are more people seeking out [aesthetic surgery] who have reasonable expectations, are a delight to work with, and are very happy with their results,” he says. It’s mostly because knowledge around plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures is much more common, particularly among men. Increased knowledge not only allows more men to feel comfortable seeking out aesthetic treatments, but also puts the power in their hands when selecting a provider.
Male Patients vs. Female Patients
Still, the way men approach medical aesthetics and cosmetic surgery is sometimes different from women. Women tend to be a bit more exploratory, whereas men “tend to be more direct and come in with something they want to work on specifically,” says board certified dermatologist Morgan Rabach, MD, of LM Medical in New York City. Typically, men will have noticed something they want to change — like crow’s feet or jowls — and seek out a provider to attack that specific issue. It’s less typical, according to Dr. Morgan, for a man to ask a general question like, “what do I need?”
Part of that could be due to how men usually find their providers: through referrals. “Most of my male surgical patients come from trusted sources like other patients,” says Lesley Rabach, MD, a double board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon and co-founder of LM Medical. “They say, ‘I’m not going anywhere else because you’re the best person for this.’ They already have an idea of what they want and they don’t question it.” In many cases, she says, her male patients seem to have done lots of research before they even walk through her door because they ask specific questions about a certain procedure they want. “Even if they haven’t done any [research], they approach it like they have,” she says.
Specifics will always help when choosing a provider, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. According to Dr. Lesley, some men are so eager to get on with the procedure they ask if they can do it the same day (or worse, attempt to forgo the consultation completely).
How to Find a Provider
Regardless of gender, anyone approaching aesthetic surgery or non-invasive treatments should not take the decision lightly. And for men who may be getting their first procedure — like I was — it’s essential to have a plan of action before committing. These are the most important things to consider when choosing a provider, according to the experts.
Get Multiple Consultations (From Different Providers)
Most doctors who work on both male and female patients say that women tend to shop around more than men before making a decision. Knowing what you want is one thing, but, when it comes to going under the knife or laser, it’s better to be completely sure you’re working with the right person. “I tell patients to go see three people,” says Beverly Hills board certified plastic surgeon Babak Dadvand, MD. “If you see two people and they say different things, it leaves you more confused. If you see three people, chances are either two or all three of them will agree on the same technique.”
Choose Based On Specialty
Think of it this way: if you drive a Ferrari, you don’t take it to just any mechanic for a tune up; you take it to someone who specializes in Ferraris. The same goes for any time you’re considering a cosmetic procedure; you want to work with someone who does similar procedures all day, every day. Do research before you reach out for a consultation. If you can’t tell from their website, don’t be shy to ask in an email or call their office. “It always surprises me when someone comes in and asks for a body procedure,” says Dr. Morgan, who specializes in facial dermatology. “If you want body work, go to a body person. You only have one face.”
Always Look At Before and After Pictures
According to Dr. Lesley, some of her male patients are so determined before they walk through her door that they don’t even want to look at before and after pictures. This, however, is never good. Looking at pictures of a provider’s work isn’t a marketing gimmick, it’s a way to ensure they can deliver the results you’re looking for. “The most important thing is to make sure their aesthetic is what you want,” she says. Ask to look at photos of the specific procedure you’re considering, and, if possible, focus on the photos of male patients. “You want to make sure you walk out looking better than you did walking in,” she says, so if you don’t like how the patients look in their photos, that’s a good indication they’re not the right provider for you.
Their Gender Doesn’t Matter, But Their Work Does
When you book a massage, you’re typically asked if you prefer a male or female therapist. That’s because some people are simply more comfortable around someone of the same or opposite gender. There’s no shame in that, and the same applies when you’re choosing a provider for a cosmetic procedure. “I’m sure it does help [sometimes] that I’m a male,” says Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, a New York City-based board certified dermatologist. “When you’re comfortable with someone, you’ll talk to them.”
Dr. Lesley, meanwhile, sees the other side. “Some men feel more comfortable opening up about skincare and plastic surgery to a woman,” she says. A provider’s gender may get you in the door, but it should never be the deciding factor in working with them. What matters is your gender and how often they work with male patients. “You want to go with someone who has a lot of experience dealing with and operating on men to give them a masculine and not a feminine appearance and understands that there is a difference,” Dr. Miller says. A good way to tell if a doctor is experienced with men is the before and after pictures on their website, but, as Dr. Miller notes, their ability to post pictures depends on patient approval — and many men don’t give it. If you don’t see many photos of men, email the provider or call their office and ask up front.
Communicating with a potential provider doesn’t depend on knowing a bunch of medical terms or even exactly what you want to do. Instead, being able to articulate what’s bothering you and what results you want to see is important. “There are certain words patients may want to use, which lend themselves immediately to miscommunication,” says Dr. Miller. “Things like ‘I want to look softer’ or ‘I don’t want to look weak.’ These are emotional terms, not descriptive terms, and we’re going to do a descriptive procedure.” If you’re not articulating yourself, it’s ultimately up to the provider to ask questions and discern what you’re asking for. Especially for surgical procedures, the provider may use computer software to show you renderings of post-surgical results. Be prepared to give specific feedback on whether or not you like what they show you and why. The more specific you get in the consultation, the happier you’ll be with the results.
Dr. Bhanusali notes that sometimes it takes a while for his male patients to really open up to him. They may come into his office asking about one thing — a rash, for instance — but after a while let him know they’re actually there because they’re concerned about hair loss. “In a world of bravado, we sometimes forget that it’s okay to be vulnerable,” he says. Remember that a provider’s goal is to help address something you’re concerned about and give you the results you are looking for. Be honest with them about what’s bothering you and what concerns you have about a procedure. It doesn’t do you, or them, any good if you keep concerns to yourself.
Ask The Right Questions
The consultation is the time to ask any question you can possibly think of. If a provider seems to rush you through or doesn’t want to spend time answering them, that’s a red flag they’re not the right person for you. “I always prefer when patients come in with a list of questions because it guides the conversation,” says Dr. Dadvand. And while our experts noted that men do tend to ask questions regarding how soon they can start working out again and if the results will look natural, there are some others they tend to overlook, but shouldn’t. Those include:
1. How Many of These Procedures Do You Do? Getting an idea of how often a provider performs the procedure you’re looking for will give you a good idea of how experienced they are with it. “Men are very into numbers,” says Dr. Miller, and knowing how often someone performs a certain procedure can give you an idea of how good your results will be.
2. What Certifications Do You Have? “It’s really important that you know the qualifications of a surgeon,” says Dr. Dadvand. “Not all surgeons are created equal. I don’t often get asked whether I’m board certified.” Always ask about a provider’s education and training, as well as what certifications they have. Then do your own research on what those certifications mean. Some certifications are paid and others, like being certified by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), is merit based.
3. What Are The Possible Risks and How Do You Address Them? In a consultation, it can be easy to focus so much on the results that talking about possible side effects or complications can get overlooked. This should always be one of the first things you ask, but if you don’t, your provider should go through them all with you. If they don’t, ask for another consultation to discuss before booking the procedure.
4. What Is The Post-Procedure Plan Like? Providers typically go through post-procedure plans during the consultation phase (and multiple times before a surgery), but it doesn’t just apply to recovery. Ask about whether you should change your lifestyle or skincare routine moving forward. And always ask who you will be seeing for post-operative care appointments. “I never get asked whether a patient will be seeing me or an assistant in the post-operative appointments,” says Dr. Dadvand. “In my practice, I do all the post-operative visits, but in others that is not the case. It’s fine, but patients should be aware of that going in.”
Don’t Make Price The Deciding Factor
When you’re making a large investment like a cosmetic procedure, it’s easy to get caught up in the expense. Price should play a factor (you don’t want to go into debt), but should never be the deciding factor in who you decide to go with. “There are a lot of reasons for differences in price,” says Dr. Dadvand. Everything from the surgeon’s experience to their geography and associated cost of living expenses can factor into how much they charge. Ask about pricing up front, but consider that as a factor in the overall consultation, not the be-all-end-all. “If you’re talking about a price difference between someone you’re really comfortable with and someone you may not be, extrapolate that difference over the next 40 years of your life. How much is that difference really? You don’t want to bargain shop your body,” he says.
The Most Important Consideration Is Comfort
Out of everything that goes on in a consultation, you should walk out of it feeling comfortable with the provider; if you don’t, then they’re not the right one for you. “Even if they are the most skilled plastic surgeon, you still have to feel comfortable with them; you still have to trust them,” says Dr. Miller. “You have to feel 100 percent confident that you have been heard by the surgeon.”
Dr. Lesley recommends not rushing through a consultation because you’re excited to get the procedure. “Spend some time with them to establish a rapport,” she says. If you feel nervous around them, you’ll be nervous before the procedure and that could make the recovery more difficult. That goes for all providers, not just surgeons. “If you’re comfortable with your doctor, you’ll be more compliant, you’ll get better quicker, and you’ll get a better end result,” says Dr. Bhanusali. “When you have a trustworthy relationship with your physician, the long term results are always going to be better.”