updated 15 Aug 2013, 04:04
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Mon, Jul 01, 2013
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Why so vain?
by Jeanne Tai

The growing figures suggest that it's not just women who are fussing over their appearance.

For some, career advancement is a top consideration. "With our ageing workforce and the later retirement age, many men are fighting hard to stay competitive and employable," explains Dr Elias Tam, a practitioner in aesthetic medicine and surgery, and a spokesperson for the Society for Men's Health Singapore. And looking good is one weapon in their arsenal.

"Some men want to look younger because they're afraid their employers will justify retiring them earlier because of their 'old look' - which indicates they have more experience and are more costly to retain," says Prof Song. When asked if his Botox-ed face has helped his career in the media and advertising industry, Marcus admits it's a bonus factor that can sometimes help him "seal the deal" at work.

"I've noticed that clients subconsciously like to be around attractive consultants. I also tend to give more attention to partners and vendors who are better-looking. While it sounds shallow, it's a very basic human instinct to want to be around beautiful people," he says. Like Marcus, Tom, 30, a product manager, is hooked on Botox and facial fillers.

He got started four years ago, when he saw lines forming on his forehead, and continues to do it because of the pressures of his job. "I travel a lot for work and give presentations to my company's senior management. It's hard to get sleep when you're in and out of different time zones," he says. Going for his jabs helps Tom look relaxed for these meetings.

He checks himself into the Singapore Aesthetic Centre to get his "fix" every six months. The Botox and fillers help smooth any lines around his eyes and on his forehead, and make his skin look moist and supple - so he doesn't appear tired when making presentations. "I believe in putting my best face forward. I want to look as young as possible, for as long as possible," he says.

The pressure is on

Unlike women who tend to be coy about getting work done, doctors say that men are usually more open. "Only a handful hide their treatments from wives or girlfriends," Dr Teh confirms.

Take Fred Yeo, 26, who says he has no qualms telling friends and family how he spent almost $20,000 earlier this year to subject his tummy and lower back to high-definition Vaser liposculpture. Unlike regular liposuction, which simply removes stubborn fat, this treatment also defines the contours of the body's muscles more sharply - for instance, sculpting Magic Mike-worthy abs and a more prominent V-shaped torso.

The 1.75m-tall Fred dropped from 98kg to 83kg, and got "an instant six-pack". "Maybe it's because I'm a guy, but I don't really care what people think. Even if people gossip about me, I still think it's better than being fat and obese," he says. A self-professed sports buff, Fred did it because he couldn't shed the flab through twice-weekly gym sessions. Attracting a date with his hot bod will be a bonus, says the singleton.

Because of their openness, several men have made "converts" out of their girlfriends and wives, nudging them to improve their looks. "Among older couples, it's usually the man who comes in for treatments first, before bringing his wife and children," says Dr Yeak Hwee Lee, medical director of Singapore Aesthetic Centre.

One of her clients, Avichal Agrawal, 30, spent one and a half years going for skin resurfacing treatments - just to look his best for his upcoming wedding. He did 10 treatment sessions to reduce acne marks on his face, spending $5,000 in total. He's also received anti-ageing facial injections costing $1,500 and plans to go for more sessions this year.

The result? Smoother and softer skin. "My fiancee is especially happy with the results and she's looking forward to great photographs on our wedding day," says the project manager, who has told his friends and family about his sessions.

His fiancee, who wants to be known as Mrs Agrawal, says she didn't push him to improve his complexion, but liked how he made an effort to look good for their nuptials. Impressed by his transformation, the 25-year-old marketing manager started thinking about bettering her looks. While she won't go for a nip and tuck, she's started to venture beyond her regular facials. "Avichal's results encouraged me to look at some for myself.

Right now, I'm using 'invisible dental braces' for nine months to improve my smile," she says. The braces cost $4,000 and will help close a gap between her two front teeth.


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