When a Man Needs a Safe Place


He paused and lowered his voice. “‘I want to come in for a penis augmentation,’” he whispered.

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Dr. Norman Rowe, a plastic surgeon, is the founder of the Club House.

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Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times

“They want a man to answer the phone,” he said. “They want to sit next to a guy, they want to watch sports on TV and not listen to Michael Bublé on the radio.”

Possibly he’s on to something. About 8 to 10 percent of plastic surgery procedures across the country are performed on men, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Liposuction and tummy tucks are the top two procedures.

While “men only” spas have been in existence for a while, they often have female employees and offer facials, massages and manicures. They usually don’t do surgical procedures, and there is no medical professional on the premises.

In 2014, Grant Stevens, a plastic surgeon, opened Marina ManLand next to his main office in Marina del Rey, Calif. It has a private entrance, reception area and treatment rooms with names like the Dog House, the Bear’s Lair and the Lion’s Den. The scent of new car leather and freshly cut green grass wafts through the rooms. The bathroom has a urinal and a 24-inch flat-screen TV with the making of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue playing on a loop.

“It’s very male friendly, but it’s not female unfriendly,” said Dr. Stevens, the president-elect of American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. “It’s not a strip club. It’s kind of a cross between a sports bar and maybe a smoker’s lounge.”

There are also “attractive female attendants,” he said, which his patients want.

That isn’t a desire, Dr. Rowe said, that his own patients have expressed.

One of Dr. Rowe’s signatures is a noninvasive penile enlargement, in which he injects dermal filler into the penis. (It typically lasts about two years and costs around $6,000, depending on the amount of filler required). He also does anal tightening procedures, “which is exactly as it sounds,” he said. (It can be a laser treatment or done surgically.)

For obvious reasons, most men don’t like to discuss these sorts of things in polite company. To prove his point, Dr. Rowe notes that almost 80 percent of the inquiries he receives for such procedures come between 2 and 4 a.m. through voice mail or online submissions. Those are the hours when men are searching, thinking about it, he said.

But it’s not something they want to broadcast. Joseph, a 31-year-old sales executive in New Jersey who asked that his last name not be used to protect his privacy, saw Dr. Rowe two years ago for Botox in his forehead. Recently, he decided he wanted more girth in his penis. When he phoned Dr. Rowe’s office, a female voice answered the phone. This, he said, unnerved him.

Garrett Munce, the grooming director at GQ, understands the sentiment. “Talking about things like thinning hair and aging and penis enlargement treatments are very hard for men in a public or semipublic setting, much less mixed company,” Mr. Munce wrote in an email. “It’s the same reason, when you book a massage, you are often asked if you have a preference for a male or female therapist. Some people are just more comfortable interacting with their own gender in such an intimate setting, and spas are all about being comfortable.”

The vibe at the Club House is decidedly comfortable. All of the office attendants — the front desk staff to the patient coordinators to the nurses — are male. There is no sign over the entrance, but rather a brass plaque with an insignia resembling the adult Simba. Instead of fluffy robes, patients will wear navy cotton jackets with the embossed emblem over the left breast.

There is also a poker table, a fireplace, a wide-screen television tuned to C-Span or ESPN and a private entrance and exit. Run-DMC jams on the overhead radio.

Dr. Rowe’s concern now is what to do about his female clients, some of whom have expressed interest in seeing him in the new location. (It seems worth noting that most of them are single.) Clearly, it would be discriminatory to turn them away, but the idea is to create a space for men.

“As far as plastic surgery goes, men are kind of an underserved population,” Dr. Rowe said. “They want a place where they can be a little bit more themselves. Straight or gay, they want to do something to better themselves.”

“There’s nothing wrong with a man maintaining,” he said.

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