The Brotox Boom
by Fleur Bainger from the Sunday Times Magazine
RYAN is 31. He’s been having “work done” for the past year. The deep furrow in his brow was troubling him so he decided to get it fixed. He’s not embarrassed. And he’s not alone. From miners to CEOs, men are the new growth market in the world of cosmetic medicine. Botox and fillers are helping them look as young as they feel, pepping their confidence with every pin prick. Blokes may be keeping their beauty secrets quiet, but the converts believe it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the norm.
“In the next five years, anti-wrinkle injections will be a given, especially as guys hit their 30s and 40s,” says Ryan, a local chiropractor with a number of male friends who’ve also turned to non-surgical enhancements. “A lot of guys (in that age bracket) would’ve previously been married and might’ve let themselves go a bit. In our generation, general appearance is a lot more important that what it was previously.”
The figures tell the story. Some 77 per cent of men surveyed by the Cosmetic Physicians Society in Australasia last year felt it was “acceptable to undergo non-surgical cosmetic procedures” — only 10 per cent less than the women who shared that view.
The survey, which interviewed 1017 people, also found that anti-wrinkle injections were the choice procedure for men who have either had or are considering having work done.
Women were more likely to opt for laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) for hair removal.
Looking locally, cosmetic clinician Dr Dennis Millard has watched his male clientele grow from just 5 per cent when he started his business in 2011, to 30 per cent now.
Despite costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars, botulism toxin (wrinkle relaxer) injections and fillers are by far the most requested treatment for men. Demand for hair loss treatment is also growing fast, along with fat-dissolving lipolysis treatment.
Dr Millard sees men from every walk of life come through his doors, mostly in the 30-to-50-year-old age bracket. He argues there’s no reason all men shouldn’t tap into the kind of appearance-boosting tools women use.
“The human race is evolving,” he says. “The stigmatisation of these kinds of treatments is no longer as prominent as it has been in the past five, 10, 20 years. What everyone wants to do is age gracefully. If you want to do that, you should be using wrinkle relaxers — or brotox.”
Ryan is one of Millard’s clients. He’ll need to return three to four times a year to maintain his look, but he says it’s worth the expense.
“I’ve definitely seen a reduction in the crease. It makes my facial appearance more youthful,” Ryan says. “The cost reduces over time, and for someone in a professional sphere, dealing with people on daily basis, it’s worth it.
“It’s like fitness — you can go from a poor level to a very good level, but to maintain it, you have to keep putting work in.”
Dr Millard, 31, practises what he preaches, using wrinkle relaxers himself.
“I fix the lines I don’t want on my forehead, my crow’s-feet and in between my eyes. They’re the most common areas. I have it done every six months,” he says.
Appearance is understandably important in his line of work, plus he does a bit of modelling on the side — he’s been with Chadwick modelling agency for the past decade and has fronted campaigns for local label Ae’lkemi, and Myer and David Jones. But his interest in aesthetics goes deeper.
The son of a crayfisherman and nurse, he spent the first 12 years of his life in Ledge Point before being sent to board at Scotch College.
“When I was at school I wanted to live down south and make wine,” says the keen surfer.
He studied winemaking at Curtin University, but a life-threatening event changed his direction. Helping out on his father’s crayboat one summer, he found himself having to carry out emergency first aid on a deckhand after a door handle went halfway into the man’s neck.
“It hit between the jugular vein and the trachea, and I had to stop the bleeding,” he recalls. “It made me realise I wanted to do medicine. Something clicked.”
Then eight years ago, Millard misjudged a wave at Brighton Beach and got smashed on to the sea floor. He sustained seven broken facial bones — four in his nose — and a fractured neck.
Millard needed reconstructive surgery. A plastic surgeon mended his bones using dissolvable plates and screws.
Millard graduated from the University of Western Australia with a bachelor degree in medicine in 2009.
Working in public hospitals, he focused on anaesthetics, intensive care and emergency work, but an interest in cosmetics lingered, in part because of his own experience.
“I did some cosmetic training and that way I could do both,” he says.
“I deal with life-saving and life-threatening work with anaesthetics, then I deal with making people look and feel better in cosmetics.”
Millard still spends the majority of his time working between Perth’s public hospitals as an anaesthetist, while holding sessions in his Peppermint Grove private clinic, Utopian Cosmetics, and visiting another in Port Hedland, where men — including miners — represent 10 to 15 per cent of the clientele.
He’s also a member of Surfing Doctors, a group that volunteers their time, resources and qualifications to raise health and living standards in places such as Indonesia and the Solomon Islands.
He clearly doesn’t fit into the superficial box many might expect of appearance-altering doctors.
“You can’t compartmentalise who comes in (for wrinkle relaxers), just as you can’t compartmentalise me,” he says.
And while anti-wrinkle injections bashfulness is easing, fears over botched jobs still linger.
“You get what you pay for in cosmetic medicine,” Millard says. “I get lots of clients coming through with bad treatments done elsewhere. Some things you can’t fix, some things you can.”
Regardless, he shares client Ryan’s expectations for a world where both genders will get wrinkle relaxers or fillers without any stigma.
“Twenty years ago, guys didn’t really go to the gym or use moisturiser because it wasn’t cool. Now it’s normal,” Millard says.
And the numbers for brotox are stacking up. “There are heaps of men who do it,” he says. “More than you realise.”