Requests for cosmetic surgery from people over the age of 65 are increasing every year. According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), almost 85,000 cosmetic surgical procedures were performed in 2010 with a majority being facelifts and eyelid lifts. The reason for the increase is obvious. People are living longer more active lifestyles than previous generations. As a result, they are seeking cosmetic surgery to be able to match their appearance with how they feel. One of the dilemmas posed by this increase in requests has been weighing the higher risks in those aged 65 and over from general anesthesia with the psychological benefit of providing an improved cosmetic appearance.
Is cosmetic surgery safe for older Americans?
Seniors are more prone to health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes making it more likely to create complications during surgery or the recovery period. However, age alone does not necessarily mean higher risks as recent research has found. A study published in the journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in June 2011 found no significant difference in minor or major complication rates among facelift patients whose average age was in their upper 50s compared with average age of 70. Thus, their findings showed chronologic age was not as important as physiologic age. Older patients who are in good health, screened for significant health issues, and managed on their medications and anticoagulants can expect to have similar risks as their younger peers. And with recent technological advancements, there are alternative cosmetic procedures that can be performed without general anesthesia. The non-invasive Laser Lift, and eyelid procedures can both be performed with local anesthesia, minimizing the risks of anesthesia.
What types of people will benefit?
Cosmetic surgery can benefit anyone who is starting to see changes in their image that they just don’t like. People who especially benefit are those who want to match their look with their active lifestyle. Sun damage from an active lifestyle can prematurely age the skin and make people look older than they feel. In addition, some people want to continue working at age 65 but don’t want to give anything away to their younger peers by their appearance. Cosmetic surgery can help these people maintain their advantage in the workplace.
What role does age play in the screening process?
The risk for the development of heart disease, diabetes, and other major diseases increases with age. These major diseases can increase the risk of complications during and after surgery. Most doctors routinely screen for these major diseases in patients over the age of 65 prior to any cosmetic procedure. In my practice, patients over the age of 50 require some screening labs, tests, and a thorough physical examination for medical clearance by their primary care physician. In addition, any limitation in physical functioning may require a chest X-ray and further testing. These careful screening protocols determined by age help most doctors limit complications from an elective cosmetic procedure. So, if you have been considering cosmetic procedures, don’t let your age hold you back. For those in good health, cosmetic surgery is safe and can help you feel good about your appearance and image.