Is there a hard and fast ‘upper limit’ for age in Plastic Surgery? As with most good questions, there’s more involved in the answer
than a simple Yes or No.
But, we’ll start with the simplest response. No.
That doesn’t mean we’re going to advocate that all 90-year olds start lining up for nips and tucks. There’s a lot of in-between.
THE BABY BOOM EFFECT
As they’ve been doing all their lives, the vast Baby Boom generation is leading the way in a march toward cosmetic surgery in the higher age brackets. Every day, thousands of Boomers surpass the 65 age mark. And guess what? Many thousands (or millions) of them are still as busy and engaged as they’ve ever been– in their first, second, or third careers! – not to mention the very active ‘leisure’ lifestyles they’ve adopted.
We now have the largest over-65 population in our nation’s history, and it’s continuing to grow. Advances in medical science, and healthy living have given us a longer life expectancy. That adds up to great numbers of healthy older people.
Many of them retire if they can, or if they want to. But changes in the economic reality have also meant that many more people are remaining in the workforce, longer than they had planned, or imagined.
So, that gives us:
- Large population of healthy older people
- Desire to work and stay relevant
- Extended economic need
- Competition in the work world
- Desire to look as good as possible
And, that brings us to the Plastic Surgery element:
What kinds of procedures do people in the upper age ranges want?
- Face Lift
- Neck Lift
- Eyelid Lift (Blepharoplasty)
- Brow Lift
The areas that are most visible, seem to get the most attention among older patients. Many people begin investigating Face Lift procedures in their 40s. By the 50s, it may become a plan rather than an investigation. And people in their 60s and beyond, can and do undergo their first facelift, neck lift, and/or eyelid lift. (And, many who’ve had earlier surgery, are coming back later in life for a second lift.)
A 70-year old may not see the same kind of results as a 40 or 50-year old. Skin tone, elasticity, and healing are different in the different decades. An earlier face or neck surgery may produce more youthful-looking results for these reasons.
As we age, our skin gets ‘thinner,’ muscle tone is more lax, collagen production is slowed, and wrinkles or creases become more apparent, more quickly. That loss of tone may make the skin and underlying muscle droop or sag.
Those are the effects of aging that non-surgical treatments can’t counter so well. And that realization, is ultimately what brings most patients to opt for a surgical solution.
WHAT SHOULD OLDER PATIENTS EXPECT?
Face, neck and eye surgeries, all aim to give the patient a natural-appearing result. We don’t usually hear patients in their 60s and 70s asking to look like 20-year old movie stars.
But, they do say they “want to look like themselves.” Men and women want the draping eyelids lifted, the “turkey neck” wattles removed, and the cheeks and jawline defined. They don’t want an unrealistic result, but want some of the extras deposited by time—taken away.
During face, eyelid, neck, and brow surgeries, plastic surgeons remove the excess- then tighten the skin and muscle, with great care not to “over-do.”
AM I A GOOD CANDIDATE?
Your plastic surgeon will ask for a detailed medical history. Being a good candidate, means being a responsible patient too. Please provide details of any condition a doctor should need to know. Be detailed about the medications or supplements you take. Have you had surgery before? What were the complications, if any?
If you’re in your mid-60s or above, you may be asked for an evaluation by your primary care physician.
You may be asked to undergo some additional testing, such as an EKG, or additional blood testing.
If you are in good health, and have medical clearance from your doctor, there is no medical reason preventing you from having cosmetic surgery.
Keep in mind that there are risks associated with all surgeries, at any age, and discuss these details carefully before making up your mind.
How old is too old? We can’t quote a number for you. But we can tell you that we’ve seen healthy, active patients in their ‘80s, and yes, ‘90s, coming in for procedures with a very common goal – they want to look as good as they feel.
[Dr. Vincent Lepore, a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
serving Silicon Valley, will be happy to answer your Cosmetic Surgery questions. Please call our staff to schedule a free Cosmetic Consultation – 408-356-4241.]