Cosmetic procedures are growing in popularity with senior citizens.
Medical advances are helping us to live longer, and old people are still
concerned about their appearances. If you still feel young and healthy,
why shouldn't you look young and healthy?
"People are living longer. In many cases, they're living healthier, and
they don't perceive themselves as being old or older," said Lawrence B.
Savitsky, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in St. Petersburg, FL.
Plastic surgery is generally more complicated for older patients because
surgery in general is riskier in an old patient and recovery times are
longer than for young people. Seniors are more likely to have health
considerations that would bear upon the success of a surgical procedure,
and many medications that seniors commonly take would be adversely
affected by a surgical procedure. Only seven percent of cosmetic
surgeries are performed on seniors over the age of 64. Last year, the
actual number of U.S. seniors seeking cosmetic surgery was 675,000,
according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
This is about six times as many seniors seeking plastic surgery as in
Many old people have lived healthily for their entire lives, and the
baby boomers do like to look good! Seniors seeking cosmetic surgery
should find skilled doctors who can modify a procedure to fit the needs
of the patient. For example, if the patient has thinning hair, face lift
incisions can be carefully positioned so that scars will be hidden.
Earlobe shortening can be included in a face lift for patients who
dislike the natural earlobe lengthening that happens with age. Another
frequently modified procedure performed on senior citizens is eyelid
surgery. Skin health determines how much tissue can be removed, and very
old patients usually have less skin removed than younger patients.
On the down side, the extra precautions that must be taken with old
patients can make cosmetic surgery more expensive. Surgeons are more
likely to need extra medical assistance available, and they may prefer
to do the operation in a hospital rather than an outpatient surgical
center just in case something goes wrong. "In this and all age groups
it's imperative that a patient understands that cosmetic surgery is not
a quick fix," warned Sheldon J. Sevinor, a plastic and reconstructive
surgeon with offices in Boston and Miami. "This is serious surgery. They
must understand the potential risks and complications."
Based on these considerations, non-invasive procedures are still the
most preferable to seniors. Botox injections and similar non-surgical
procedures even remain popular despite the fact that Medicare and other
insurance companies typically only cover procedures that are deemed
medically necessary, such as breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.
In 2008, U.S. seniors had 193,647 Botox procedures and 108,244
hyaluronic acid procedures (such as Juvederm). These numbers overshadow
the next most common procedure for Americans 65-and-over: cosmetic
eyelid surgery, which was performed 24,836 times in 2008.
Perhaps the best solution would be to change they way people perceive
aging, but short of altering a very ingrained prejudice of our culture,
cosmetic procedures provide a way for senior citizens to continue
feeling attractive. Most seniors who undergo cosmetic surgery are happy
with the results.
Post-surgical infection is a common threat, and seniors are more
susceptible to it, so if you are considering plastic surgery, make sure
you find a meticulous doctor who will take your special needs into
consideration and perform the most appropriate procedure for you.
Doctors should insist upon taking complete medical histories and doing
blood work. They may also require further pre-admission testing, such as
electrocardiograms or chest X-rays.