Is Your Jaw Man Enough?

If not, filler up. Going under the knife is no longer necessary to get a superhero-worthy profile. 

By Jason Sheeler

Is Your Jaw Man Enough?

Twentysomething overachievers surround Sam Florio, yes-manning their way up the corporate ladder. Recently, one slipped past the 39-year-old telecom executive, leaving him with the indignity of having a boss six years his junior. He fights 40 by hitting his gym in Manhattan’s financial district for an hour, five days a week, but no matter how many skull crushers he did—how pleased he was with his tris, pecs, lats, hairline—his virile colleagues had something he didn’t: strong jawlines. “They’re at their physical peak—their faces, too,” says Florio (whose name has been changed). “I wear a suit and tie. No one sees how ripped I am. They just see my face next to my shirt collar.”

Over the years, Florio had grown frustrated as the lines of his face became softer, less pronounced: more Stockard Channing, maybe, than Channing Tatum. The final straw was a particularly mood-souring sighting of a square-jawed meathead throwing dumbbells around the weight room. Soon after, Florio decided to do something. Implants can be extreme and not easily reversible. His fiancée suggested jaw augmentation, which she heard about from her plastic surgeon. The next week, Florio had six vials of Juvéderm Voluma, a cosmetic filler, injected on top of his mandible. The doctor spent 30 minutes sculpting the soft tissue until it was less parabola, more right angle. 

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Men who don’t like what they see while shaving are transforming themselves into modern-day Thors not just on the Upper East Side, where Florio was treated, but also in Miami, L.A., and Dallas. If you can get past the sticker shock—the hyaluronic acid Florio chose runs $1,500 per vial—jaw fillers are painless, require no prep or recovery, and have almost no side effects (save for minor swelling). Dr. David A. Feldmar, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, says the number of men coming to him for jaw augmentation has increased by 50 percent in recent months. Dr. Andrew Jacono, Florio’s physician and the director of the New York Center for Facial, Plastic, and Laser Surgery, is seeing five guys a week for this procedure alone. Specific numbers aren’t available—the FDA has yet to approve hyaluronic acid for this purpose, though its use isn’t illegal and the practice is commonplace among doctors—but the market for this injectable grew 32 percent in 2013, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Jacono says it’s so normalized that patients routinely show up with vision boards. “They bring in images from some ‘masculine jaw’ Google search. Pictures of David BeckhamTom Brady, Gerard Butler, MMA fighters, that guy in the Dolce Gabbana ads.”

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Rather than requiring scalpels and sutures, fillers offer a slight tweak with little hassle—and without the “tells” of other treatments; the results are both immediate and impressive. “I was nervous it would look like I had a face-lift,” says Josh Cho (not his real name), who was also treated by Jacono and found the effect to be surprisingly natural. The 22-year-old says he’s been teased since middle school, called “flat-faced” and described as “pretty” instead of “handsome.” He laughs at how different he feels now: “I’m five foot six, but I’m walking like a six-footer. I left the doctor’s office and went to a bar, looking at my reflection in every window on the way.”

Even if the physical changes are subtle, the confidence boost isn’t all mental. “A man’s facial structure is a billboard advertising his health, gene quality, and reproductive potential,” says Vinita Mehta, a Washington, D.C., psychotherapist who’s writing a book on how our chromosomes affect relationships. “Mates react to that—consciously or not—coworkers too. Studies show that’s how dominance is signaled.”

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Problem is, Cho might feel more like five-eight in six to nine months. That’s when his fillers, Restylane and Perlane, which run $750 to $900 per shot, will deteriorate. Rob Carlisle (not his real name), a plastic-surgery virgin until his first injection less than a year ago (“I’d never had any work done, not even Botox”), has already had to go back to the filler well. “I was getting jowly again,” says the Los Angeles music executive, 43, who visited celebrity dermatologist Harold Lancer. This continuous cycle is partly why doctors see fillers as a gateway to implants. Another reason: A Beckham-esque jawline isn’t in the cards for all guys. “Some men show me photos of who they’d like to look like, but their bone structure makes it impossible,” Feldmar says. Worse, in the wrong hands, things could get ugly—literally. Aestheticians, nurse practitioners, or physician’s assistants, who can get a $100 diploma in two days but aren’t well trained in facial anatomy, may hit blood vessels, resulting in scars or deformation.

Still, the potential costs (both medical and monetary) aren’t deterring those who have felt like Superman and don’t want to revert to Clark Kent. Florio, for one, is already planning his next appointment. “I can’t stop looking at myself,” he says, confessing a new addiction to mirrors. “Today, my boss, who’s usually condescending, talked to me like an equal. The guys at work were like, ‘Did you shave? You look good.’”

LUCK OF THE JAW

The famous mandibles Dr. Jacono and Dr. Lancer say their patients request the most:

David Gandy

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David Beckham

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Joe Manganiello

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George St. Pierre

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Matt Bomer

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Images courtesy of Getty

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