This time last year, 51-year-old engineer Clark Currie had a very particular phobia: meeting people his own age – because it brought home just how much more weathered he looked by comparison.
"I smoked for years, I was feeling stressed and it showed in my face," says the divorced father-of-two from Edinburgh. "I looked older than my age; not at all how I felt. At the time I thought nothing of spending $645 on a new jacket, so I figured I could spend the same amount on my face and feel a lot better for it."
A younger you
Since then, Clark has given up smoking, had his eyelids lasered (they were unusually heavy, he says), had filler in his cheeks and around the jawline and Fractora, a skin-smoothing laser, all over his face, at a cost of $8000 (rather more than a new jacket), with Harley Street cosmetic doctor David Jack.
"I haven't gone out of my way to tell people, but if a client tells me I look well, I say I've been looking after myself. Which is true - I eat better, I've stopped smoking and I've had work done. And I'm not ashamed to admit it."
Currie's barefaced confidence (if you'll pardon the pun) is in marked contrast to comic actor Martin Clunes, who recently tried to offset the cost of mystery plastic surgery against tax on his acting income, claiming it was "intimately connected with his work", for "the purpose of his acting trade".
Embrace the truth
When his claim was turned down by HMRC, he asked a tax tribunal judge to grant anonymity to his appeal, arguing that if his identity was revealed, "he might become the target of mockery and jokes".
Clunes clearly didn't get the memo: these days, it's the concealment, not the cosmetic surgery, that's the real source of embarrassment. Studies show the number of men going under the knife is not just increasing dramatically, but high-profile male celebrities are no longer shy about admitting exactly what they have had done, and where.
Everybody's doing it
Last October – while on stage picking up an award, no less – 43-year-old singer Robbie Williams admitted to having had "some fillers, and some Botox" and, just for good measure, "something done to my chin which means I can't move my f------ forehead".
Meanwhile, 57-year-old Simon Cowell has compared getting Botox to brushing his teeth, and Cold Feet actor James Nesbitt, 52, cheerfully admitted his hair transplant was "ridiculous, but it's horrible going bald. Anyone who says it isn't is lying.
"Losing my hair was practically an obsession. But also, I'm an actor, so I'm in the public eye a lot and I really felt that my hair loss could affect my career prospects."
A new man
Dr Daniel Sister, another provider of cosmetic treatments, says: "Without a doubt, men are getting more work done...We're living longer, we're having second and third marriages and it's become so acceptable for men to take a greater interest in their looks.
"But perhaps the biggest motivator for fifty-something men is the job market, which is youth-driven. These men don't want to get left behind. If they're in a client-facing job, or competing with younger colleagues, there's a commercial edge to looking a bit younger. Banking in particular is very competitive. In the past, a middle-aged man would proudly have a paunch, now he might get Botox. It's normalised."
Studies back up Dr Sister. The number of men getting cosmetic surgery has risen by more than 110 per cent since 2000, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). It recorded 4614 men having treatments in 2015 - but the true figure will be larger still because this takes no account of surgeons (and treatments) not represented by the association.
BAAPS member, Dr Max Marcellino, says, "Innovative surgery leaves no obvious scars. Like never before, the male population is growing conscious of their looks and knowing they can achieve fantastic results whilst returning to work the very same day with a small 'tweakment' is very appealing."
"We can now do a lot of things without resorting to surgery and this attracts more men," adds Dr Sister. "Those who wouldn't have had a facelift because they didn't want the downtime and time off work, are having facial lasers, tightening, thread lifts, Botox and so on.
"We do hair thickening treatments without using grafts that involve PRP [platelet-rich plasma therapy]."
Similar to the vampire-style facial made famous by Kim Kardashian, this involves taking blood drawn from a patient's arm, treating it to separate the plasma – which is laden with platelets, the part of blood that's rich in growth factors – and then re-injecting it. Originally used to rejuvenate skin, it's now used more to spur hair follicles back to life.
"It doesn't work so well on bald heads, but it's good for thinning or balding spots," says Dr Sister. "Another popular treatment is surgery-free eyelid lifts that get rid of excess skin under the eye and on the upper eyelid.
"Men are more likely to have the softer, subtler treatments. Not least so the results don't feminise their faces. It sounds terribly sexist, but men look better with a few lines than women do. So, we'll often leave a man's crows' feet alone because it gives him a nice, twinkly-eyed look, and then soften - rather than wipe out - his other lines.
"There's a whole industry involved in keeping men in shape. They're going to the gym more, they're taking supplements, eating clean and using products on their face and hair more than ever."
Research, and research some more
Of course, consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS president Michael Cadier warns that surgery is a big step beyond a beauty product. "The decision," he says, "must be well thought-out, with managed expectations, understanding the risks through fully informed consent and, most importantly, choosing the right specialist provider who is properly trainer and accredited."
The Telegraph, London