Not long ago, Jeff Vickers, who owns a construction company, had surgery to address something that had, fittingly, been the butt of jokes.
"I'd wear jogging pants to work and the guys used to joke that, 'You could drop a plumb bob from the back of your head and the string wouldn't hit anything before it hit the ground,' " he said, referring to the weight on a string used for surveying.
Vickers, 46, who lives in Radford, Va., and is married with four children, cannot remember when it was otherwise.
"I've always had a nonexistent butt," he said. "Zero."
Last fall, he had his first consultation with Dr. Constantino Mendieta, author of "The Art of Gluteal Sculpting" and a cosmetic surgeon in Miami.
"When I went in to the doctor, I said, 'I'm not a girl, so I'm not worried about having a table back there you could sit a coffee cup on,' " Vickers said. "I just wanted to be able to put on a pair of pants and for them to stay up."
Mendieta performed liposuction on Vickers' abdomen and love handles, then injected the fat into the buttocks.
"They take the fat where you don't want it, and put it where you do want it," Vickers said.
As men age, they tend to lose fat from their buttocks, faces and hands, while gaining it in stomachs and chests, Mendieta said. Weight lifting yields only modest results for the posterior.
"The only way to pump up your derriere," he said, "is with your wallet."
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, men accounted for 6.2 percent of cosmetic buttock procedures in 2012, up from 2.2 percent in 1997.
At Freshpair, an online store, buttocks-enhancing underwear accounts for more than 6 percent of men's underwear sales, up from less than 1 percent five years ago, according to Matthew Butlein, president of the company.
"With the trend going toward slimmer pants, you're able to see the assets underneath a lot better," Butlein said.
In the Calvin Klein Body Boost Butt Trunk ($22), support straps inconspicuously woven into the fabric of the boxer briefs lift and support. Elastic undergirdings in the 2(x)ist Lift No Show Brief ($24) also give hindquarters a boost.
Go Softwear introduced the first line of men's underwear with enhancement padding in the seat in 1996, said the company founder, Greg Olvera, who came up with the idea in a marketing class at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
"Someone in the class was talking about the Wonderbra and the phenomenal sales they were having," Olvera said. "And the light bulb went off and I thought, 'If women have enhancement products, why don't men?' "
The Go Softwear Super Padded Brief ($37.50) has 5-by-7-inch oval pads quilted into them that could pass for potholders. It is hard to imagine how a romantic interest would react to first encountering them.
"Women have been wearing padded bras for years, and they get into romantic situations and some are self-conscious and some probably just don't care," Olvera said. "But there's still more of a stigma for men than for women."
Bonobos, a men's e-commerce company, began in 2007 with a stated mission of ending "khaki diaper butt" with better-fitting pants. Atypical of menswear brands, Bonobos has emphasized that women ogle men's haunches; a 2009 advertisement declared, "Here's your chance to tell women, 'Hey, my eyes are up here.' "
Goodbye, midlife crisis
When it asked its Facebook followers for reactions to its pants, Lori Feinman wrote of an unfamiliar woman in a bar who walked up to Feinman's Bonobos-clad husband "and grabbed his butt with both hands and said, 'I love these pants.' " And that, Feinman concluded, "effectively ended his midlife crisis."
A recent Men's Health article suggested that men "who don't have a contoured bumper" try jeans with pocket flaps.
"It adds more shapeliness if you lack junk in the trunk," said Peter Moore, the editor of the magazine. "The pockets can add visual definition back there and give wandering female eyes something to look at."
Moore warned against "gluteal amnesia," a term that has been used in the magazine to refer to muscles that slacken when parked in a chair for too long, and recommended stand-up desks and "good glute and hamstring exercises" over surgery.
Vickers, the contractor, said that even when he was in peak shape when he boxed competitively, getting pants to stay up without a belt was hopeless.
As for the expense of his buttocks surgery, Vickers pointed out that it was less than his Lamborghini.
"I went out and spent almost 200 grand on a car," he said. "To spend $10,000 to make you feel better and look better is worth it."