plastic surgery

What to Say When Your Girlfriend Gets Cosmetic Surgery

Read my sexy lips.

This article was originally published in GQ. Illustration by Cecile Dormeau. 

Recently I got lip fillers. I did it for myself, not “for a guy,” and my new lips look great (they look like my usual lips, but fuller and with a little Cupid’s bow). But when I told the men in my life what I was up to, they didn’t really know what to do with it.

From Donald Trump’s sexist tweet about MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski’s supposed facelift to Rob Kardashian’s bizarre social-media meltdown about Blac Chyna’s plastic surgery, there are a lot of examples of how not to speak to and about women who elect to get cosmetic procedures. Maybe you’d be stoked if your girlfriend announced that she wanted to get work done. But you might also feel apprehensive, especially if your lady is planning a nose job or a breast augmentation, more drastic procedures that require anesthesia. You respect her and you love the way she looks already, and that’s beautiful. But when she brings up getting work done, give her the benefit of the doubt: Trust that she’s put thought into this and done her research. If all she wants is a little Botox or lip fillers, chill. Ask her why she wants it done, and listen. Express your thoughts and concerns, but at the end of the day, it’s her body and her choice. Ultimately, you should support it. It might end up turning you on.

Don’t be like Donald and Rob—here’s what to say and do to be supportive each step of the way:

Before: Don’t Overdo It

“You’re beautiful just the way you are,” is at its core a supportive sentiment, and an important (albeit Bruno Mars-y) one. However, if your partner is telling you that she wants work done, please don’t undermine her intelligence and right to choose her own aesthetic by defaulting to praises of natural beauty. I, for instance, already have pink hair and eyelash extensions. Whenever a dude waxes poetic about how lovely I’d look if I let the pink wash out and opted for my natural brown hair, I feel like he’s undermining my decisions. I don’t feel like myself with long brown hair, I feel like myself with a messy magenta bob, damnit! The same goes for getting work done. When I first announced that I was going to get lip fillers, one guy said something mean about how I “just wanted to feel better about myself.” Well, in a sense, yeah—I wanted them because I enjoy feeling hot and powerful and I like how they look. Please don’t patronize me, or any woman, by assuming the desire to get work done is to fill some soul hole. Respect that this is my body, my choice, and my money, and if I want some Lana Del Rey-esque pouty lips, then that’s up to me. Don’t assume or say anything that infantilizes a woman’s choices about her body. And for fuck’s sake, don’t say something plain mean like “that’s gross,” because I know you follow Kylie Jenner on Instagram.

During: Be There in Person or in Texts

If your lady is getting something done that requires anesthesia, such as a nose or boob job, it might be nice to go with her, but injections are so quick that it’s not necessary. If you can’t join her on her beauty expedition, encourage her the day of and check in throughout in a supportive—but not annoying—manner. She’s about to experience a teeny bit of pain. Feel free to ask her, “Does it hurt?” and then laud women for having such high pain tolerance. Sitting in a comfy chair in Dr. Dara Liotta’s pristine Manhattan office, I loved getting my lips done. I have ten tattoos and enjoy BDSM so I may not be the best judge of pain threshold, but injections are truly no biggie. If you’re curious and want a fair comparison, I went to the dentist earlier that week and that sucked a million times more. Dr. Liotta’s office was sexy. Getting work done really does feel sexy, so totally amp that up—either verbally, if she allows you to accompany her, or through texts. Ask her things like, “How you holding up, champ?” or joke around about celebrity sightings. Truly the best things you can say during the procedure are words of encouragement, such as: “You got this! You’re going to look even hotter, if that’s possible.” Those newly plumped lips will reward you.

After: Give Her Soup and Space

If you want to score all the points after her procedure, bring her things like delicious soup, frozen yogurt, and ice packs. Snuggle up with movies or a House of Cards binge-watching session. Know that she may not be able to continue a conversation because her lips are sore. And if she wants space, give her space. Regarding lip augmentation, it takes a day or so to go from swollen to sexy—for other procedures it can take a lot longer. You know in High Fidelity, when John Cusack talks about his girlfriend’s plain cotton underwear “hanging on the thing,” and how there are parts of intimacy that aren’t inherently sexy? John Cusack fantasizes about other women, knowing that they too probably have cotton panties, but he only sees them in lingerie. Your girlfriend might not want to taint the sexy intimacy with this moment of puffy-lipped un-sexy intimacy. If you are allowed over to watch her attempt post-procedure ramen slurping, make sure she’s comfy, and if you make any jokes about how she looks puffy, do it with love. And then, yes: Please let go of any hang-ups you might have, and enjoy her beautiful newly plumped lips, which she elected to get done just because she wanted to. Since you’ve been so supportive of her choices you get to have fun with those suckers!

I Got Botox in My Scrotum and My Sex Life Has Never Been Better

I wrote this for Cosmo! Originally published here. The lovely artwork is by Katie Buckleitner.

Wanting to smooth forehead wrinkles is one thing, but men, whose use of cosmetic fillers has risen 355 percent from 2000 to 2015, have begun to inject Botox into an unlikely place: Their scrotum. The procedure is called “Scrotox,” a term made famous by a 2010 Saturday Night Live sketch. While injecting Botox into the scrotum has gone viral for cosmetic reasons, actual medical research is slim. “There’s literally only one peer-reviewed manuscript on Scrotox, and it wasn’t for cosmetic; it was for scrotal pain,” says Dr. Mary K. Samplaski, resident scrotum expert at the University of Southern California, Institute of Urology.

Men looking to smooth their sack often seek out plastic surgeons like Dr. John Mesa, who has performed Scrotox (solely using Botox for its reliability) on 10 men in the past year. Botox relaxes muscles, allowing the testicles to drop lower, which can make your balls look bigger. According to Mesa, Scrotox mimics the effect of a warm day: the balls appear lower and look smoother with fewer wrinkles. The cost of Scrotox is the roughly same as regular Botox, or $520-$800 per session.

While the procedure is believed to be as safe as Botox anywhere else on the body, injecting neurotoxins into your scrotum can seem daunting. If testicles become too hot, a man can risk becoming sterile. As Dr. Mesa explains, however, since Scrotox causes the balls to drop lower rather than closer to the body, “…I would say Botox in the scrotum would be more beneficial because it keeps the temperature of the testicles lower.”

Cosmopolitan.com spoke to one man who received Scrotox for cosmetic reasons. Here’s what he had to say about the procedure.

“I’m a 29-year-old man, I live in Manhattan, and yes, I got Scrotox. I’m a physician myself, an internist. Botox, especially on your scrotum, can still have some stigma depending on who you are talking to, so because I’m a physician, I wanted to be confidential. I do have a bunch of friends who have been getting Botox or plastic surgeries, and some of them are actually guys. I can sense that it’s an increasing trend for guys to be more open to plastic surgery and procedures such as Scrotox.

Dr. Mesa has done Botox for me before, about a year and a half ago. I had some done on my forehead because I have wrinkles and I wanted to avoid them getting worse as a preventative measure.

I learned about Scrotox through my girlfriend, who is also a physician. She said that she heard a friend talking about it. She had never mentioned or complained about how my scrotum looked before, but after hearing about the procedure from friends she became curious, and started joking around about me getting it done. She’d say, ‘You know what, what do you think about this?’ At first, I was like, ‘That sounds pretty crazy.’ But she just kept joking around that it could be good for sex, so I began to become curious myself. We began doing research together about the procedure, and read user reviews that said since Scrotox makes the balls hang lower and looser, my [scrotum] would make contact better with her skin during sex. In particular, [it would] stimulate the clitoris more. We also were curious about it making sex better for me, as looser balls could feel more comfortable for me as well.

We’re a couple who enjoys trying new things together, and since we’re also both physicians, we’re comfortable with medical procedures. After reading comments on plastic surgery online forums, and noticing a consistency (no one wrote that they had regretted it) and then discussing with friends in the medical field, I decided to go for it. Honestly, it was curiosity, and a desire to try something new with my girlfriend, that lead me from originally thinking the idea was crazy to wanting to give it a shot. Why not?

So in July, I had the procedure done. The day I went into Dr. Mesa’s office, my girlfriend told me she was excited, and my thoughts were mostly nervous excitement. It’s an invasive procedure, and obviously the genitals are a sensitive region, but then again so is the face, and I’d already had Botox done there with no problem.

Compared to Botox on my forehead, the procedure was similar; but yes, as it turns out this is definitely a more sensitive area. Honestly, though, I was expecting it to be a little bit more painful. At the beginning when they apply the anesthetic you can feel that, and that’s uncomfortable for a few seconds, and then you don’t really feel any pain during the actual injections. While the procedure feels like 10 hours due to nerves, it actually only takes about 10-15 minutes. My doctor engaged me in small talk the entire time to help distract me.

It’s a little bit sore and sensitive for a few hours after, but by the next day I felt fine. The results don’t happen right away, but within that week or so I did feel like my scrotum was more relaxed than before. They are not loose all the time, which is one of the things I was not expecting. It was after the results had set in, about five days afterward, when I showed my girlfriend and we had sex. She was pleased with both the results and that I was open-minded enough to try the Scrotox. The sex was great! It did make the sex more enjoyable. While it doesn’t make sex last longer, along with the aesthetics, my lower-hanging, relaxed and looser balls were more stimulating for my girlfriend. For her, she says it does stimulate the vulva region more and perhaps even the clitoris [when we have sex in certain positions]. As they are lower, they can reach places on her body better.

I think overall, the biggest effect the procedure had on our relationship is that I showed I was willing to be being open minded and giving it a shot for her; that was a very positive outcome of the procedure. Trying new things together sexually is something that both of us enjoy a lot, and that has positively affected our relationship and my self-confidence.

If you are considering this procedure, do your research. I have friends who are plastic surgeons, and I asked them: ‘What do you think about this procedure?’ They said, ‘We think it’s safe, we think it can help, but it’s relatively new, so we are still learning the long-term side effects. But it appears to be safe, so if you want to give it a try find a good plastic surgeon.’

I was happy with his procedure, and I’m happy with the results, and so is my girlfriend. I’m scheduled to go back in two weeks for another injection.”