'Couples cosmetics': Nip 'n' tuck for two

Don Chalphin, still undergoing his tummy sculpting, checks out wife Millie's facial procedure by plastic surgeon Steven Davis .
Don Chalphin, still undergoing his tummy sculpting, checks out wife Millie's facial procedure by plastic surgeon Steven Davis . (DAVID M WARREN Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 13, 2014

She'll have a chemical peel while he has some Botox injections.

New idea for a date night? Sort of.

In this hectic world where the hours in a day slip quickly away, couples look for activities to spend quality time together. Apparently, even the business of nipping-and-tucking can be done as a duo.

Although the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery do not compile data on such events, local doctors say "couples cosmetics" is becoming an expanding trend.

Steven Davis, a Cherry Hill plastic surgeon, said he had seen about 50 to 60 couples annually for couples cosmetics, about a 20 percent increase from five years ago. He said he staged a "bring a friend" marketing campaign, which surprisingly resulted in more couples' scheduling services together.

Davis said that as more Americans live longer, they're attempting to turn back the effects of time. And cosmetic procedures aren't just a woman's prerogative anymore: More men are going under the knife. Of more than 10 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures performed in the United States in 2012, 10 percent were on men.

He also said that for some couples, staying young-looking and in shape becomes another way to connect in a relationship. "You go to the gym together. Take up a sport together. And then, that couple might talk about getting cosmetic services. And they decide to do it together. It's a way of encouraging and supporting each other."

Don and Millie Chalphin of Voorhees bowl in a league on Wednesday nights. They show their Pekingese and English bulldogs at dog shows. And as Eagles ticket holders, they save autumn Sundays for cheering the Birds.

Recently, the couple, who have been together for 15 years, had side-by-side cosmetic procedures at Davis' Cherry Hill office.

"We do everything together," said Don, 53, publisher of Center City's the Legal Intelligencer.

Don, who watches his diet and trains at a gym, was there to get rid of his love handles, so his clothes would fit better. He had body sculpting, a noninvasive, no-blade, no-needle substitute for liposuction, which he had had done five years ago.

A wand attached to a machine sucked at his tummy for nearly an hour, freezing fat cells that would be digested from the body in four to six weeks.

On a nearby chair, his wife Millie had Juvéderm, a filler, administered to erase fine lines from her lips and make them appear smoother.

"We want to gracefully grow old together," said Millie, 54, the owner of Millie's Jiggles & Wiggles Pet Styles in Voorhees.

Allan Wulc, a cosmetic surgeon specializing in eyelid and facial cosmetic surgery in Plymouth Meeting, said that three or four years ago he'd see only a couple of partners a year coming in together. Now, he sees that many in a month.

Often, when a patient comes back for a follow-up appointment, the spouse comes, too.

"And then he or she will say, 'Maybe I should have something done with my eyes or forehead, too.' "

That's what happened with Edgar and Jolene Buffman of Media.

Edgar has received Botox injections in his face regularly for a few years. (Botulinum toxin Type A, including Allergan's Botox, is the top nonsurgical antiaging cosmetic service performed, as reported in 2012.)

"He suggested I give it a try," said Jolene.

Now, the couple have turned their Botox visits into a bonding experience.

"Right after, we go for cocktails and dinner," said Edgar, a World War II veteran, who runs the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum in Media.

Although more partners are electing to have services done together, doctors don't recommend having invasive surgeries done simultaneously, since one partner should act as caregiver.

When New Hope's Nancy Garvey had a face-lift and eyelid lift surgery (blepharoplasty) three years ago, her husband, Jerry Walton, took care of her.

"He was an excellent helper," said Nancy, 66, an executive assistant, who said the cosmetic transformations boosted her confidence and made her look more like herself.

Jerry, 58, accompanied Nancy to her postoperative checkups, and soon after followed in his wife's footsteps. He had eye sculpting to eliminate dark shadows beneath his eyes. Nowadays, he also receives facial injections to reduce wrinkles around his eyes.

He thinks the makeover has made him more competitive in the marketplace. "People put a lot of value on your physical appearance," said Jerry, who is a doctoral candidate in education at Columbia University.

That sentiment is what plastic surgeon Paul Glat often hears from clients in his Bala Cynwyd practice. He sees about 15 couples a year for couples cosmetics (about 10 to 15 percent more than five or six years ago), ranging in age from their 30s to 60s.

He said the couples consider it "their time together now," especially among empty-nesters.

"People are worried about being phased out of their jobs. Or, some people who are getting back in the job market, especially men, feel they have to compete with the young. Sometimes, they feel more comfortable coming in with their spouse," Glat said.

Other folks agree. Shawn Doyle, 55, of Coatesville, who is a motivational speaker and the author of 15 books, said that in his line of work he needs to appear energetic and dynamic. "People who are listening to my message don't want to see someone who is looking tired and drawn-out."

He had his first Botox injections after he met, Rachael Kelley, 50, his fiancee. He said he liked how refreshed Rachael looked after she had an eyelid lift. She also receives Botox injections.

The couple said it's logistically easier to have their treatments done at the same time.

"The first time I had the injections, Rachael was in the room with me, and she was telling me what to expect. We're very supportive of each other," Shawn said.

Rachael, who lives in Macungie and who's an account manager for Knoll Furniture, appreciates that some people wouldn't want any company during a medical procedure - even a life partner. "But I think times are different now. Cosmetic surgeries are more acceptable. And for us, it's something we like to do as a couple."

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