Illustration by Ryan Snook

Plastic surgery AMONG MALES is booming, but it's not one of those things guys want to discuss.

Brian has a secret so sensitive that he has never shared it with anyone except his wife. Brian is not his real name, but it’s the alias I’m supposed to use when I call him for an interview. He has agreed to a confidential discussion on the condition that I describe him only in general terms: investment banker, mid-30s, lives in Connecticut. 

Has he misled investors? Operated a pyramid scheme? Discovered the next great offshore tax haven? No, no and no. To him, however, this subject feels even more taboo.

The secret, he admits, is written across his face, although so subtly that it never has created a discussion among friends. And that’s important to him because he is a man who has submitted himself to a procedure that is historically associated with women.

Brian has had plastic surgery.

“Vanity these days is not just for women,” he says. “I hate to say it, but I think a lot of people do judge you based on how you look. This is something for myself, not anybody else.”

Brian and his wife married after finishing college, and they quickly added children to their family. Brian spent long hours at the office, exercised less and developed a sunken chin that he wanted to strengthen. A little nip and tuck seemed like the answer. He went to see Dr. Philip Miller at Gotham Plastic Surgery in New York, received jaw implants and was home a few hours later. He didn’t even take pain-killers.

Since his surgery in 2010, none of Brian’s friends or colleagues have mentioned his reinforced mandible, which was exactly the intent.

“I wanted it to look natural and didn’t want people to comment on it,” Brian says in a phone conversation as his kids play in the background. “To me, good plastic surgery is noticeable but not to the point where people point it out.”

Among males, Brian isn’t alone in embracing cosmetic surgery. In November 2012, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported­ that men across the country are putting on a new face. In the past 15 years, the number of males undergoing plastic surgery has skyrocketed by 121 percent. In 2011 alone, 800,000 men — about 10 percent of the $1 billion cosmetic-surgery market — eliminated muffin tops, removed turkey necks and smoothed out crow’s-feet.

The most common procedures are liposuction, rhinoplasty, eyelid surgeries, breast reduction and face-lifts. Prices are typically in four figures, with liposuction averaging $2,700, breast reduction $3,300 and nose reshaping $4,000. Aesthetic plastic surgery is rarely covered by health insurance in the United States (although certain reconstructive procedures may be covered).

Hotbed markets include the image-­conscious meccas of New York, Miami and Los Angeles, but the trend has spread to places­ like Baltimore and Nashville, Tenn. Along with CEOs and attorneys, plastic surgeons cite IT managers, accountants, ­teachers, chefs and train conductors as patients. “These are real guys,” says Dr. Darrick Antell of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York. “Guys who have to decide whether to go on a hunting trip with their buddies or get a neck lift. And they’re choosing the neck lift.”