Simulation results for an etched air hole photonic crystal (PhC) vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) structure with various thicknesses of metal deposited inside the holes are presented. The higher-order modes of the structure are more spread out than the fundamental mode, and penetrate into the metal-filled holes. Due to the lossy nature of the metal, these higher-order modes experience a greater loss than the fundamental mode, resulting in an enhanced side mode suppression ratio (SMSR). A figure of merit for determining which metals would have the greatest impact on the SMSR is derived and validated using a transmission matrix method calculation. A full three-dimensional simulation of the PhC VCSEL structure is performed using the plane wave admittance method, and SMSRs are calculated for increasing metal thicknesses. Of the metals simulated, chromium provided the greatest SMSR enhancement with more than a 4 dB improvement with 500 nm of metal for an operating current of 12 times threshold.