WHILE working in London a few years back I was sent to interview a management consultant about some big issue of the day. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was, mainly because there is only room in my brain for the most memorable thing about our meeting – the interviewee’s face.

To say this man had had work done was an understatement; Liberace looked natural in comparison. I know it’s rude to stare, but I couldn’t help it. The tanned face, with skin pulled back so tightly it looked like it might rip at any moment, artificially protruding cheekbones and overly plump lips over dazzling white teeth, was simply extraordinary.

Not that the owner minded me looking; on the contrary, he was happy to tell me he’d spent more than £30,000 on cosmetic surgery. The work took 20 years off him, he declared proudly, lifting his shirt to show me a flat, liposucked tum. The only downside was using up all his annual leave on surgery. He would have laughed at this point if only he had been able to move his mouth freely. I laughed, too, wanly. But none of this was really very funny at all.

You see, our man didn’t look 25, as he hoped; to be frank, he just looked odd - neither young nor old, plain nor attractive. I don’t doubt that he saw my crows’ feet and thought my lack of attention to this hideous imperfection just as bizarre. But what struck me most was the psychological horror of all this, the deep-seated insecurities you’d have to possess in order to spend all your money – not to mention your spare time – on brutal surgery there’s no medical need for.

I also remember comforting myself with the thought that this was probably all linked to the vacuous London lifestyle I saw all around me; there was no way ordinary, sensible Scottish men would abuse their bodies in this way…right?

It seems I couldn’t have been more wrong, since men in Scotland are going under the knife in their droves. New statistics from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reveal that around 4,500 are having procedures every year, twice as many as a decade ago.

Apparently breast reduction – which comes in at around £3,000 - is particularly popular among men, which seems ironic when you consider many of their wives are probably rushing to have theirs artificially pumped up. Facelifts, nose jobs, liposuction and brow-lifts are also on the increase, as are operations to reduce the size of their ears. Thousands more, apparently, are going to high-street clinics for botox and filler injections.

As someone who believes in equality for men and women, I suppose in theory I should welcome any closing of any gap between the sexes. But I can honestly say I take no pleasure in knowing that men are feeling the same crushing pressure to be slim and “perfect”, to focus on their looks at the expense of intellectual endeavours, as their girlfriends, wives mothers and daughters. They too have learned to hate their bodies - how utterly depressing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. People are free to spend their money on whatever they wish. If it makes you happy to “improve” the way you look, then fundamentally it is no one’s business but your own. After all, women have been doing this with make-up and hair dye for hundreds of years. The plastic surgeons carrying out the operations, meanwhile, maintain cosmetic surgery has many beneficial psychological effects.

I wonder, however, how long-term and genuine these benefits really are. After all, the “imperfections” that drive people into clinics are in most cases the normal signs of ageing all of us face at some point. Few get pleasure from seeing ourselves age in the mirror, but thankfully most find a way to put it into some sort of perspective.

And surely cosmetic procedures just encourage in those who undertake them a more critical and obsessional focus on their looks than ever before; one wee “tuck” is rarely enough. Many admit they get addicted to the surgery and the short-lived boost it gives them. I can only imagine that some unscrupulous surgeons are ready and willing to indulge such behaviour for the sake of another Mercedes or a contribution to their pension pot.

As always, the media has much to answer for, demanding as it does that we are forever young, flawless and thin. I’d always thought it was only women and girls, socialised this way from birth, who fell for such nonsense. It’s disturbing and disheartening to know that in today’s image-obsessed world men and boys have become suckers for it too.

With this in mind it’s time both sexes learned to live with the crows’ feet - and embrace the wisdom that accompanies them.