Paul M. Parker, MD is the Medical Director of the Parker Center for Plastic Surgery in Paramus, New Jersey.
He has over 25 years of surgical experience and is renowned for his quality surgical results and his unwavering commitment to patient satisfaction.
He has spent many years working with male patients to look and feel their best while maintaining a sharp, masculine appearance.
In this interview, he shares what men should look for in grooming products, his thoughts on the biggest grooming mistakes men make, grooming tips, and more.
What is your back story, and how did you end up becoming a plastic surgeon?
In the third year of my five year residency of general surgery at NYU Medical Center in NYC, I realized I did not want a career in general surgery.
I spent three months of elective time in cardiac surgery and three months in plastic surgery. While I liked the “thrill” of cardiac surgery, I fell in love with the variety of and innovations within the field of plastic surgery. I applied and was accepted into the plastic surgery residency at NYU.
What I initially loved, and still do, about plastic surgery is the ability to change someone’s appearance and have a positive impact on their self-esteem and confidence. Not many people are as lucky in life to be able to do that.
What are the most common issues that men visit with you about?
The most common issues men visit me for are related to wanting to look younger or more in shape, whether it’s a handsome face that’s slowly turned a bit haggard, a body that isn’t quite as taut as it used to be, or gynecomastia (enlarged male breast tissue).
I most hear from men that wrinkles and other signs of aging are making them look tired or angry all of the time.
Unfortunately, I think a big part of this for most men is not following a good skin care regimen beginning earlier on in life.
In your opinion, how can the usage and quality of grooming products impact men?
Above all else, I think men can benefit most from investing in great quality skincare products and committing to a regular routine of skincare and sun protection early on in life.
Somewhere along the line, a widespread assumption took hold: that only women should take care of their skin. Using the high quality medical grade skincare products on a daily basis can make a world of difference in the appearance, health, and “age” of your skin.
What should men be looking for when they're looking for grooming products?
Unfortunately, approximately 80% of all cosmeceuticals currently available use active ingredients that have questionable value, having failed to show scientifically proven benefit to the skin.
Look for products that have been scientifically validated as having beneficial ingredients.
You’ll do best if you look beyond department and drug stores for skincare, as the highest grade, most effective products are simply not available over-the-counter.
Medical professionals—whether it’s a board certified plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or aesthetician working under MD supervision—have access to medical-grade products that will provide improved skin in the least amount of time.
Effective topical agents include: vitamin A derivatives (tretinoin and retinol), hydroquinone, antioxidants, DNA repair agents, anti-inflammatory agents, and growth factors.
In our office, all skincare patients have their photographs taken on a skin analysis machine which analyzes the skin for eight different parameters of skin health. After a baseline evaluation, periodic re-evaluations are performed to objectively monitor the patient’s progress toward achieving healthy skin.
What ingredients should they be avoiding in grooming products?
Physicians and other skin care professionals often recommend topical agents with inert active ingredients that do little to improve the health of the skin but do provide comfort and short-term gratification to the patients.
These same practitioners seek to avoid the unwanted reactions from topical agents which are often necessary to achieve healthy skin.
Dermatologists are often recruited and paid by skin care companies to promote their products, giving rise to the term “dermatologist tested,” yet the studies supporting these products are meaningless.
Ideally, before beginning a skin care program, the patient should have an understanding of the component ingredients they will be using.
Establish a relationship with a trusted physician or aesthetician and be sure they explain why they are recommending the skin care products they do. Have them explain what these products will do to improve your skin and the time frame for them to become effective.
What are the biggest mistakes men make when it comes to grooming?
Not taking good care of your skin. This means not protecting your skin with a high quality sun block which protects against UVA, UVB, and high energy visible light.
In addition, another mistake is not returning your skin to a healthy condition with a high quality skin care regimen designed to actually reverse the sun damage your skin has sustained over time.
If you could give just 1-2 grooming tips to men, what would they be?
1) Great skin isn’t girly. It makes a perfect backdrop for your perfectly groomed facial hair, will help you age more gracefully, and keeps your skin healthy.
2) Just do it. If taking an extra one to two minutes per day to groom or slather on some face cream makes you feel awesome about how you look, it’s more than worth it. Plus, any romantic partners will find your soft skin irresistibly touchable.
Step Up Your Grooming Game
Thank you to Dr. Parker for the interview! If you're interested in learning from some other dapperness experts, check out these interviews:
And for fun, find out how tight your grooming game really is by taking this men's grooming quiz.