If Vladimir Putin seems to stay the same age while world leaders around him are all hit by the natural weathering of time, there’s a good reason: The Russian president is almost certainly subjecting his face to steady rounds of non-invasive cosmetic treatments.

“He looks better than he did in 2002 so it’s obviously worked for him. He looks a heck of a lot better than Trump but not as good as Trudeau,” said Toronto cosmetic surgeon Stephen Mulholland.

The hollow cheeks and bags under the eyes that were once a hallmark of Putin’s famous icy stares have vanished.

Most noticeably, however, there has been a steady plumpening of the 64-year-old leader’s cheeks.

Whereas most men of Putin’s build start to see a skeletonization of their faces by their 60th birthday, Putin’s has increasingly obtained a rounded, Santa Claus-like appearance. And judging by the Russian president’s apparently consistent fitness, the plumpness cannot be attributed to normal weight gains.

“I would speculate that he’s had filler and Botox done, and this is evident by smoothness around his forehead and the crow’s feet around his eyes and volume along the cheeks,”

said Philip Solomon, a Toronto facial cosmetic surgeon.

Mulholland suspects that Putin’s procedures likely fall into three categories: injectable skin fillers, Botox and laser skin resurfacing. 

Artificial fillers or fat grafts would fill in sagging areas below the eyes and on the cheeks. Botox injections would smooth out wrinkles, and treatments with a fractional Co2 laser would tighten what cosmetic professionals refer to as “crepe-y skin” around his eyes.

The procedures likely started out small with a few injections, although Mulholland said the Russian president appears to have undergone a major set of treatments between 2012 and 2014 — a period just before the Sochi Olympics, and just as Putin was divorcing his wife, Lyudmila.

“Moscow’s a big market for this now, so he probably would have had it locally,” said Mulholland.

When Putin first assumed the Russian presidency in 2000, the country was notorious for botched or questionable plastic surgery.

But as oil and gas wealth has concentrated in Moscow, it has fuelled a greater demand for breast implants, Botox, nose jobs and facelifts.

Mulholland said the signature Russian procedures are over-injected lips and thread-lifting, a method of raising sagging skin with surgical thread.

Putin in 2004, 2012, 2017 (left to right)

However, all of Putin’s procedures would not require him to go “under the knife.” The procedures are all administered with injections or surface abrasion, which means the recovery time would be as little as a week.

Although, in a pinch, any bruising or puffiness could be covered up with makeup or sunglasses. The procedures also require steady maintenance: Putin would need to be returning for additional injections about twice a year.

The Kremlin has persistently denied rumours that Putin is undergoing cosmetic surgery, although some curious signs have emerged that the president may indeed be visiting the beauty doctor.

In 2010, news cameras captured Putin with mysterious bruising under his eye. In 2015, the Russian leader mysteriously went off the radar for 10 days.

Even without medical assistance, Putin has a leg up on anti-aging. The Russian leader is persistently in good physical condition and he was prematurely grey and balding — which gave him a headstart on the usual signs of a man entering his golden years.

But Solomon said that if Putin is indeed getting work done, he has been careful to do it the right way: “Subtle changes that are hard for the average person to predict.”

Mulholland, in turn, called Putin’s upgrades a sign of a cultural shift. Not too long ago, the trappings of wealth and influence meant that powerful men paid little attention to their physical appearance.

The famously vain Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev, for instance, had a penchant for constantly awarding himself undeserved military medals. However, that vanity never extended to artificial enhancement of his physique or appearance.

“That’s the nature of the modern man: even Putin can be a metrosexual and not have to admit it,” said Mulholland.