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Why Looksmaxxing is More Than Just a Trend in Men and Its Effect

Men do get it and they know the importance of looking good. However, some become too obsessive in that pursuit, which can lead to other issues. 

SINGAPORE, May 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — According to Dr Ivan Puah, an MOH-accredited liposuction doctor and Medical Director of Amaris B. Clinic, the ratio of female to male patients at his clinic has shifted from 70:30 to 45:55 since its inception. Over the years, as we evolve and progress, our understanding of things follows suit. 

For example, the term “vanity” is no longer associated with just the female gender. More men are investing in their appearance because they understand the need to look good. An experienced doctor who has been helping patients attain their ideal appearance for the past two decades, he also added that in men, the term “beauty is not applicable as male vanity is about masculinity.

Dr Ivan Puah added that there are many reasons behind a man’s intention in seeking help and treatment. These range from self-esteem issues to the need of fitting into their corporate culture or even simply in wanting to look like how they feel. Interestingly, the most common reason of late is looksmaxxing.

Looksmaxxing, more than just a growing trend amongst men

Looksmaxxing is basically about improving the appearance, and for men, the preference leans to “tweaking” rather than “tucking”, as reported in a 2019 British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons study [1]. Meanwhile, in the US and since 2000, the use of fillers and Botox among men has risen by 101 percent and 381 percent according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. A study also reported that facial appearance was found to be of more importance than that of the physique in regards to physical attractiveness [2]. Facial attractiveness seems to indicate semen quality [3], which enhances a man’s appeal to the opposite gender.

Dr Ivan Puah still remembers the first time he heard the term “looksmaxxing” as uttered by a patient, and at that moment, he understood the reason behind the rise in the number of male patients at his clinic. Looksmaxxing is not an overnight process, it is a lifetime commitment. This includes investing in skincare products, healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Often it also involves aesthetics treatment to upkeep their skin tone and condition, surgical interventions and self-effort by the patient to upkeep their newfound appearance. Unfortunately, during this pursuit, some men develop “bigorexia,” a body dysmorphic disorder.

Bigorexia, a body dysmorphic disorder

Defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) as a body dysmorphic disorder, bigorexia triggers a sense of inadequacy where the patient feels that his body is too small or not muscular enough [4]. It is akin to being delusional, and men who suffer from it are fixated on the perception that they are insufficiently muscular or insufficiently lean. In most cases, however, this is contrary to their actual physical state.  

Men who suffer from bigorexia will tend to become socially awkward, among other things, at times. They will also become obsessive with their appearance, spending hours on end at the gym and on products that would help them to attain their perception of a muscular, fit and perfect physique. This is not only detrimental to physical health but more critically, it can have an adverse affect on one’s mental wellbeing. 

The negative  influence of social media

Today, it has become evident that social media is a powerful tool. We form opinions, find solutions and inspirations and even reach conclusions from the various postings on them but there are downsides. 

As Dr Puah stresses, “Social media can bring the best out of us. We share success stories in the hope of inspiring and sometimes as a tool to find encouragement. But it can also bring out the green-eyed monster in us, where that encouragement we initially sought becomes more of a validation to feed our narcissistic tendencies. To the extent that we go beyond what is advised (in terms of looking good) just to continuously receive validations and accolades.”

Falling into such traps is something that should be avoided and self-realisation is essential when it comes to understanding limits and what can be achieved when it comes to looking good.


[1] British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. (2019). Cosmetic surgery stats: number of surgeries remains stable amid calls for greater regulations of quick-fix solutions. 

[2] Little, A. C., Jones, B. C., & DeBruine, L. M. (2011). Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 366(1571), 1638-1659.

[3] Soler, C., Nunez, M., Gutierrez, R., Nunez, J., Medina, P., Sancho, M., … & Nunez, A. (2003). Facial attractiveness in men provides clues to semen quality. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24(3), 199-207.

[4] Currie, T. E., & Little, A. C. (2009). The relative importance of the face and body in judgments of human physical attractiveness. Evolution and human behavior, 30(6), 409-416.