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He is 63 and wears a paisley tie, monk-strap loafers, and a white coat and speaks with a mischievous ease. Cosmetic surgery among people who identify as male rose percent between and in the U. Eppley, who is boarded in oral and maxillofacial surgery as well as plastic surgery, is one of a handful of doctors explicitly targeting young men with procedures to transform the face and body rather than to reverse aging.
He does around surgeries a year — eight to ten a week. He performed his first custom facial implant in while on the faculty at Indiana University, practicing plastic surgery at the hospital there.
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A machinist from Terre Haute had wanted his jawline augmented — and wanted to design it himself. He and Eppley worked together, carving a model out of clay. Eppley now designs custom jaws with CAD, the software used by architects and engineers. We are sitting in his empty office on a Saturday when he shows me one. Clever design. Eppley dreamed up a way to improve the feel and to appeal to those whose testicles function.
Eppley has since removed hundreds of ribs in waistline reductions. The technique borrows from the bone harvesting used in rhinoplasty and jaw reconstruction but with tinier, more cleverly placed incisions. Often his rib-removal patients are transgender and will get hip implants in the same trip. Transgender female patients make up 10 to 15 percent of his practice. He performs facial-feminization surgery on around 25 patients a year.
He does far more facial-masculinization surgeries — on over patients annually — although all but one or two of them are on cisgender men. I watch him field a half-dozen calls.
Turns out it depends on whom it belongs to. One recent patient asked for a more angular skull with a peak at the top; another requested the exact inverse, to have his naturally peaked skull rounded. The first patient was black, and the second was white; Eppley suspected cultural standards were at the root of the difference. Some Eppley specialties — like a wide jaw or prominent brow — are universally male, triggered by the hormone testosterone during puberty. Others are arbitrary. Custom implants allow him to adapt to trends more rapidly than other surgeons, who mostly use standard shapes.
She manages the finances; Eppley tries to stay in the dark about the cost of the procedures he performs. He has also gotten a rhinoplasty, temple implants, and mouth widening from Eppley.
He is bisexual and hoped cosmetic surgery would help him date more. He saw it as within the normal, if expensive, range of body improvements, like dieting. There was one in particular — Colton Haynes from Teen Wolf — who spoke in a monotone voice that reminded Matthew a lot of his own. Matthew has striking blue eyes with pale lashes, and, thanks to the procedures, a wide jaw and jutting chin.
He lives with his parents and works at Best Buy, an arrangement he originally conceived to help save up for surgery. But it matters to him. They were particularly interested in the custom facial implants designed by Eppley and a team of engineers at the Colorado firm 3D Systems, which are then manufactured, usually in silicone, by a California company called Implant Tech.
Patients participate in the process down to the millimeter. When I show an incel forum to Eppley, he at first seems confused by the anonymous usernames. We look at a thread by a user named Saiyan who has posted images of his designs for Eppley cheekbone implants and post-op selfies. Some surgeons will not operate on patients they believe may have body dysmorphia. On forums, incels argue that the diagnosis is often a kind of reverse discrimination and that women seeking invasive procedures to fix relatively small flaws are not greeted as skeptically.
In , he sued a former patient who was waging an online war on his practice, creating dozens of SEO-hogging sites e. Her face-lift revision had resulted in a permanent breathing problem, she claimed to filmmakers in the HBO documentary Plastic Disasters, although she never filed a medical-malpractice suit and doctors who subsequently examined her found no surgery-related abnormalities. Eppley now trains assistants on how to monitor patient communications for signs of mental instability.
Far more are like Truth4lie: not white, but convinced that most paragons of male beauty are. They repost scientific research on the importance of symmetry and harmony in universal standards of beauty. They discuss the Golden Mask, a Platonic ideal of a face designed by a California surgeon using the ratio of phi. That Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are gay designers best known for an aesthetic of homoerotic high camp was an irony most incels missed.
The more Truth4lie read about Eppley, the more the doctor seemed capable of turning even Truth4lie into a Chad. He remembers one widely shared photo showing what it said was an Eppley patient with a new chin, a new jaw, a new forehead, new temples, and a new skull. The first time Truth4lie saw Eppley was during a video consultation one summer afternoon in He was living in an apartment his parents owned. He is squinting into the camera.
He reminds me of Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a wider face. The surgery came with risks, Eppley explained: infection, malposition, asymmetry. In young men getting multiple procedures, the likelihood that one would need to be revised was high. And it was impossible to precisely predict, even for an experienced surgeon, how large or small an implant would look once it was covered with soft tissue.
Truth4lie understood, he told the doctor. The operation would include a rhinoplasty revision. That October, Truth4lie would take the hour flight to Indianapolis, his first trip to America. He was more nervous about being unable to shield himself from judgmental glances at the crowded airport than about the procedure. Everything in America was too big. A nurse had him read some paperwork.
The procedures would take six weeks to heal, and the swelling might continue even longer. He felt no pain. The appendage looked straighter, more male. As Truth4lie left the surgical center, he made eye contact with the nurses and staff, trying to gauge their reaction to his new face. Back at his hotel, he ordered room service and watched TV.
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His jaw was still swaddled in bandages, and his mouth was filled with blood. When he removed the bandages, his jaw was not yet swollen. He admired its width and dreamed of a new life. I need women, lots of women, to make up for my miserable life. I need a new social circle, a new identity, a new life.
I want to live in hotels in tropical countries and live a playboy life there, only fucking hot blonde European girls. I have the money, I have the freedom. I need to go and leave this goddamn rotten place, need to leave everything behind, my old life. He had been a user on the forum Pick Up Artist Hate puahate. In the past decade, seven mass killings have been attributed to incels or adjacent online misogynists.
It was that, suicide, or surgery, they said. Incels I spoke to framed posts like this as a kind of dark humor, helping them face painful truths about the world with a shield of irony.
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But trolling also seemed like a gateway to extreme ideas. Cosmetic surgery seemed to serve a similar function to trolling but on a grander, more permanent scale. Incels said it would help them to live more normal lives and alleviate loneliness and depression. Just as often, it seemed to carve their prejudices in bone. Might as well just go with prostitutes. Relax and try to enjoy life, replied another user, who had also undergone surgery. Much like women getting breast implants, South Koreans getting eyelid surgery, or bodybuilders taking steroids, the posters on incel forums seem at first to be motivated by the undeniably relatable desire to look better — and therefore be treated better.
On her YouTube channel, ContraPoints , she comments on far-right internet culture while sipping wine and sporting 18th-century cosplay. Unlike transgender people who pursue surgery, of course, incels tend to be perpetrators, rather than targets, of violence and discrimination. PostSingularityVirgin, a year-old Canadian, started reading incel forums when he was Soon after, he dropped out of college to save up for cosmetic surgery, which he has yet to get. He believes people like him are the future; in the next century, cosmetic surgery will be widespread and affordable to everyone, he tells me.
A lot of those things are being eliminated by technology. But in a way, PostSingularityVirgin is an exception. They met a few months ago on the webcam service Omegle. In conversations like this, it was difficult to empathize with incels — they had so little empathy for anyone else.
But only incels react with bile.
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Chris Donahue, a year-old writer from Brooklyn, believes men should still foot the bill, at least on the first date. Unfortunately, the rule seems even less clear for those in the LGBT community, says Morningside Heights resident and comedian Stephanie Foltz, who is bisexual. Foltz, 29, says it can be tricky, but that gender norms are still at play. One of the first times Foltz took the initiative and asked a guy out, it went really well. A new Match. The advice used to be to avoid talk of politics and former relationships on early dates, but now many favor putting it all out there from the beginning.
And once people started broaching politics, she says, other taboos, such as keeping past relationships to yourself, began to get ditched too. It saves you time figuring out if this is the right person. Forget having a one-night stand and never seeing the person again. With Facebook, Twitter and some minor sleuthing, anyone can be tracked down. With time, a no-strings hookup could turn into something more. Gone are the days when dates had to be an elaborate night out at a buzzy restaurant or club. A Match. Read Next. One dog's amazing journey from the streets to stardom.
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