It’s the subject of adulation and scorn, worshipped in celebrity circles but reviled by some as a surrender to a society fixated with youth.
Whatever its true value, cosmetic surgery is on the rise, if popular culture is any indication.
Reality television programs such as Extreme Makeover and The Swan depict the seemingly transformative effect of plastic surgery on body and soul.
And, in popular myth at least, Botox replaced Tupperware long ago as the party starter of choice at select suburban gatherings.
That same myth would have gay men leading the cosmetic procedures charge, freshly nipped and tucked and defiantly creaseless despite increasing age.
No national cosmetic surgery data is kept in Australia. But, in the experience of one Sydney cosmetic surgeon, gay men have a growing penchant for minor procedures, while remaining a minority in the overall plastic surgery stakes.
Dr Mark Kohout, who sees about 800 clients each year in his practices at Bondi Junction and Leichhardt, says 15 to 20 percent of his clientele is male; of this, about one-fifth is gay, Kohout estimates.
When you look at the proportions of the demographic sub-groups, gay men tend to have a higher percentage of non-surgical procedures than surgical procedures, Kohout says.
The sort of procedures that I get requests for [from gay men] is facial implant or facial enhancement surgery -“ things like chin implants or chin augmentation.
They are also big consumers of non-surgical procedures, like Botox and dermal fillers -“ dermal fillers particularly for cheek lines or cheek folds.
Grant Morrissey from Darlinghurst’s Salt Clinic has observed a similar trend.
About 80 percent of Salt Clinic’s male clients are gay, Morrissey says, and Botox -“ used to relax wrinkle-causing muscles -“ remains a favourite.
Restylane, an injected filler that can reduce smile and frown lines, is a newer arrival but its popularity will definitely increase, Morrissey says.
And cosmetic procedures are not purely the domain of clients of a certain age.
When Botox first came into the cosmetic field, [clients] were sort of the people who really needed it, Morrissey says.
Nowadays you’re getting boys in their 20s who don’t even have lines coming in and wanting to prevent the lines.
Often with those boys I try to discourage or at the least encourage them to do just one area.
You want to wait to see where you are going to develop the lines. It’s silly to paralyse your whole face.
Society’s expectations will ensure gay clients continue to invest in cosmetic procedures, Morrissey predicts, even at their bank balance’s peril.
I think it’s all part of society -“ we’re expected to look better now, he says.
A Botox treatment on one area costs $330 at Salt Clinic, rising to $550 and $770 for two and three areas. Half a vial of Restylane costs $380, or $550 for one vial, with the amount required dependent on the individual.
A trend we’re finding is probably a lot of people aren’t having facials as regularly now, Morrissey says.
They’ll save up their money and they’ll spend it on these sorts of procedures.