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“In the corporate world, there’s a lot of emphasis on image, and image goes with self-confidence,” says Antonio Armani, a Beverly Hills, Calif., cosmetic surgeon who specializes in hair transplants. “I think a lot of people do invest money in improving their looks because they feel this is one way they can go up the corporate ladder.”
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reports that, among last year’s most prominent trends, about two thirds of its members reported seeing men and women who requested cosmetic surgery because they wanted to remain competitive in the workplace.
In his nine years of practice, Armani says there has been a growing desire among corporate men—often working in finance—to look younger. But as a career investment, a youthful hairline doesn’t come cheap. Armani says a typical transplant procedure costs from $15,000 to $35,000. While his patients are often wealthy, many younger men are financing the cost. Recently, a marine coming off active duty took out a $25,000 loan for his surgery, Armani says, because he “wants to look good” as he heads into law school. “When we look at people, we are naturally attracted to people who are more attractive,” Armani says. There’s research to back up that claim. Gordon Patzer, author of Looks: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined and a longtime researcher on the impact of physical attractiveness, can run through a laundry list of study results that point to the advantages of being good looking. Cuter newborns in a nursery are touched, held, and talked to more than less attractive babies. Elementary school teachers unknowingly tend to hold higher expectations for better-looking children. Parents may be less protective of less-attractive children.
Then, when people reach working age, good-looking college graduates are more likely to get hired. Employees themselves tend to be willing to do more for better-looking bosses. Attractive supervisors are perceived as more credible and more persuasive. Is Plastic Surgery For You?
So what does this mean for those of us who want to get ahead but don’t look like Brad or Angelina? Well, higher education can improve physical appearance in others’ eyes. And Patzer recommends working out, eating well, practicing good hygiene, dressing nicely, and—although it may be cringe-inducing—correcting flaws with plastic surgery.
“It’s a good investment for the workplace,” he says, noting that investments that improve your physical appearance and make you appear younger can ultimately delay the decline of your workplace effectiveness as you age.
Certain cosmetic procedures can offer the most bang for your buck. Men have been turning to eyelid surgery, which was the fourth-most-common surgical cosmetic procedure last year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Also, teeth whitening is a great investment, because teeth turn gray as we age, Patzer says.