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Male patient potential: Tapping the market

Article-Male patient potential: Tapping the market

Yes, men are seeking more cosmetic procedures today than they have in previous years. But the increases aren’t newsmakers. What has been remarkable to dermatologist Terrance Keaney, M.D., is the potential increase in business for dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons in this largely untapped market. 

Dr. Keaney, an associate dermatologist at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, who helped start the practice’s W for Men center, says especially younger males, between ages 18 and 40, are willing and ready, but often not aware of the options.

More than 500 men came to the W for Men center in its first year. The men at his practice tend to be younger — an average age, he says, of about 38 years old. That’s compared to an average age for female patients at the practice of about 47.

Recent national numbers

The most recent statistics by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) suggest men made up 10 percent of those seeking soft-tissue filler treatments in 2013. That’s up 2 percent from 2012. Men were 11 percent of injectable neuromodulator patients, which was the same as in the year prior, according to ASDS.

Men represented 9.4 percent of all cosmetic procedures in 2013, according to statistics by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Interestingly, men were 10 percent of the total in the ASAPS’s 2012 statistics.

Signs point to potential

Dr. Keaney says the millennial male could drive a surge in men’s interest in cosmetic procedures.

“I think it’s an untapped and growing market even though the data currently shows a slow uptick,” Dr. Keaney says. “What I’m finding in my personal practice and seeing in men in general is that younger men are the men who are more acceptable or amenable to cosmetic procedures. I think that partly reflects the overall view of younger millennial men, as they call them, because if you look at men’s skin care, men’s luxury fashion, those are segments that are growing really rapidly among men.”

Global information provider The NPD Group reported in a 2014 study that men are increasingly embracing fashion and newness in their footwear. Overall sales for men’s accessories (including jewelry) grew 9 percent to $13.6 billion in the 12 months ending May 2014, according to NPD Group. And in the luxury clothing market, men represented 40 percent of sales, with men's spending growing almost twice as fast as women's in 2011, according to Bain and Company

Capturing the market

Younger men are cosmetically conscious. They see their faces every day on social media, from Facebook to Instagram. They’re just not as educated about cosmetic procedures are their female counterparts, Dr. Keaney says.

Cosmetic practices need to target them, the dermatologist says.  

“In dermatology practice, it’s easier because we see men for medical dermatology conditions,” he says.

Dr. Keaney says he educates men. That’s different than trying to sell patients on the idea of cosmetic procedures. Men don’t want to feel like they’re being sold anything.

“If I’m doing a skin exam or evaluation, I point out everything I see and tell them the treatment. That can be cosmetic or medical,” he says.

For example, if he sees a rosacea patient, Dr. Keaney will talk with the patient about medical management and treatment with topical or oral treatments. He’ll also tell the patient about how lasers get rid of blood vessels. If he sees pigmented brown spots, he reassures the patient that it’s not melanoma but there’s a laser to get rid of those spots. He might also point out any wrinkles and say the fine lines or wrinkles can be treated with injectables or lasers.

If a patient asks questions, Dr. Keaney talks more about the options. If not, he’ll move on with the exam.

This approach works well “As long as you’re doing it in a way where it seems like you’re explaining the treatments just like you would explain a treatment for a medical condition,” Dr. Keaney says.

He and his staff also create and look for product educational literature that appeals to both men and women. For example, a filler used to augment the lips might be a good option for the fine lines around men’s eyes. Any literature, emails, social media marketing or other promotional materials introducing the product should let patients know.

Appealing to men also means being sensitive to the practice environment. Cosmetic physicians should think about how men would feel walking into their offices, offering magazines and more to which men can relate.

Men like these options

Younger men like the technology aspect of cosmetic procedures, Dr. Keaney says. That means they gravitate to lasers and such. Since the younger set tends not to have as much photodamage, they might opt for lasers to remove blood vessels, hair, scars or wrinkles.

“Sixty-one percent of my treatments in my male patients who are younger were with lasers,” Dr. Keaney says.

Dr. Keaney’s practice recently acquired robotic hair restoration, which he says has been a big hit among his male patients.

“The number one cosmetic concern among men, still, no matter what, is hair loss,” he says.

Lasers and other treatments can open the door to a long-term relationship with the male patient, he says.

“The great thing about men is once you get them as a patient and they trust you, they’re the best patients. They don’t price shop and doctor shop, they’re yours,” he says.

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