Man Up Men! PRP, botox, Vanquish… Jonathan Thompson stands up and submits to a range of scary-sounding new procedures for chaps – including fat melting and botox – to try to make himself gorgeous again.
‘What the hell?’ asks Fred, peering at my scalp. Fred knows my head far better than I do, hence his confusion. You see, Fred’s job since way back, has been to take what hair I have off – but now somebody’s put it back on. A few weeks prior, there I am lying on a table somewhere in the vicinity of Harley Street, crushing a yellow rubber duck in my hand as yet another jab goes into my skull. It’s painful. Lots painful. ‘We had a stress ball in the shape of a doctor before,’ says Vicki Smith, aesthetics director at Absolute (my syringe-wielding tormentor), ‘unfortunately, a patient tore its head off.’
I can sympathise. The cause of my discomfort is the latest rejuvenation treatment for hair loss: Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). Like the infamous ‘vampire facial’, PRP involves blood extraction from your arm, spinning it in a centrifuge, then scooping off the growth-factor-rich platelets. These are then reinjected into the treatment area: a targeted turbo charged boost for flagging follicles. The most painful part of the whole thing is the ‘halo block’ – local anaesthetic injected into the scalp. With a crash-helmet like feeling tightening around the top of my head, I nip to the loo, terrifying an elderly lady going in the opposing direction. In the mirror, I look like a post-battle Klingon warrior, an anaesthetic ridge protruding from my forehead and bloody temples.
With the Klingon facial/halo block taking effect, the rest of the hairy enhancing procedure is pain free. Smith and her team inject my own body’s restorative globules into my thinning crown and embryonic widow’s peak, then wipe me down and wish me well. Clutched in my hand are instructions to roll a tortuous-looking spiky thingamabob (a derma roller) over the affected area, this stimulates growth apparently, and to wash my hair with the baby stuff. Much to my disappointment I am not allowed the rubber duck as a keepsake! PRP is one of a number of non-invasive medical treatments driving a surge in male cosmetics in this country, especially for hair loss.
According to the (BAAPS), British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, the number of men undergoing tweaks, nips, tucks, rips and age defying modifications in the UK, went up 17 per cent between 2012 and 2013, with non-surgical face and body treatments now amounting to 75 per cent. The boom seems to be fuelled by a few factors, one being from a sharp increase in men aged 35-45 becoming single, to a more general acceptance of cosmetic procedures.
Women have been gaining an advantage this way, so it is said, so then why couldn’t we? It’s the domino effect hitting just about everything from promotions to online dating. According to Geoffrey Mullan, cosmetic surgeon at Medicetics, the average male’s major concerns, could be split into three timeless clichés: getting fatter, balder and older. The great news is that there is now effective non-invasive treatments for all of them.
‘A man’s metabolic rate for his skin begins to dip at the age of about 35, and this is when clients start coming in for preventative measures,’ Mullan says as he preps my own 35 year old face for one of the most popular and exciting new procedures – botox Sprinkles. ‘It’s all about making improvements, but not looking “cooked”,’ continues Mullan, who has seen around a 20 per cent year on year increase in male clients, with up to 80 per cent in the mid 30s to mid 40s age bracket. ‘Guys want people to notice that they look well rested and fresher and not to notice that they’ve had any outside assistance.’
This is where the ‘sprinklies’ come in. It’s the new approach to the botulinum toxin and involves significantly smaller quantities of it peppered across the area to weaken, as opposed to freeze, the muscles. It effectively softens lines instead of eradicating them, giving a more natural look. It’s the equivalent of a few pinches of seasoning over a roast chicken – rather than a handful of stuffing inside it. The process is far less painful than PRP (the needles are hair thin instead of finger thick) and takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. In lots of ways, it’s reminiscent of the morning break check-up at the dentist where I’m back at my desk before the coffee has gone cold.
It’s no great revelation that botox injections work – they do. But Mr Mullan has got the dosage and even the spread down to a fine art. Over the next few weeks, my forehead starts to soften like a snow run after more snow has fallen: the bumps and general contours remain visible, but it’s a much smoother ride. Friends don’t ask if I’ve had work done, but plenty of the people in my life have started commenting on how ‘well’ I look. I arrive at a bar to meet a girl friend who says how fresh-faced I look and that’s after a long, exhausting day at work. It’s such a shame that the wrinkle remover only lasts three to four months – these sprinklies are stardust.
So, smugness here, feels pretty confident. I’m obviously looking younger in the face, and my ‘Lazarus’ cut on top is sliding into unruliness. However, I still have one of the three male clichés left to confront: my jelly belly. So for this, I head off to see Dr Rita Rakus, an aesthetic doctor and dermatologist, so renowned she has become nearly as feted as some of her famous clients. My first concern when entering her clinic is that, with an average 33-inch waist, I’m not a fatty and would any treatment have a significant impact? Much to my consternation – I’m wrong. ‘Ah yes,’ says Dr Rakus as she does the all-important ‘pinch test’ to my tummy, ‘there’s loads for us to work with here, Jonathan. I’m sure we should see a serious improvement in a few weeks.’
The cause of her glee is Vanquish, a body-contouring procedure that works by aiming ‘focused-field radio-frequency waves’ at your fatty deposits which heats them up until they melt away. Stripped of my upper coverings and perhaps some of my dignity, I lie under what looks like a giant angle poise lamp. A warm, watery sensation as the radio frequency waves annihilate my defenceless fatty cells, leaving my body to dispose of them naturally. For excellent results, Dr Rakus prescribes at least six sessions, at weekly intervals. Every time I’m there, I’m left on the table with a bell if things get too hot, making me feel like a cross between James Bond in the hands of Goldfinger and a rasher of bacon under the grill.
Yes once again, I cannot deny the end result. Almost straight away, my belly feels tender, as if I’ve done far too many minutes of the plank at the gym. Within about a month, I can see some slight definition around my abs. Towards the end of the six weeks, I seem to wake up with a significantly flatter tummy than the one I went to sleep with. The results aren’t as swift as the Stardust Sprinkles, but the engineers of Vanquish, claim that they’re permanent – once liquefied, those fatty cells aren’t coming back.
Back in the barber’s chair in Fred’s Soho salon, where my hair has been getting a trim for the past several years, I’m happy to admit that I do look different in the mirror. My face appears younger, I’m definitely thinner around the waist and, of course, thicker up top. The results of my PRP are as clearly written across Fred’s face as they are my own head. ‘It’s insane,’ gasps Fred, who can’t stop prodding and poking the new growth. ‘It’s like land reclamation up here.’ So with prices starting from £1,300, I ask if he would recommend it to his other male customers.
‘Well,’ he says. ‘At that price it’s basically going on holiday or getting your hair back. Why would you go away if you’re not really confident enough to take your hat off on the beach? I’d tell them to save up for both!’
At Bella Vou, our team of friendly cosmetic surgeons are experienced in tailoring procedures to fit the specific needs of the male body. We approach your individual goals with personal attention and help you make an informed decision about the procedure that is right for you.
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Last Updated: September 29, 2016
Published On: September 29, 2016