Have you ever thought about having cosmetic surgery but wondered if you might be too old for it? Patients in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s often ask if it is safe to undergo aesthetic surgery at that age. As with most things in medicine, researchers have actually looked into this. A large study published in 2015 evaluated the records of approximately 125,000 patients who had undergone cosmetic surgery. The investigators wanted to see if patients over the age of 65 had more complications than younger patients. They found that the overall complication rate was not significantly different between the two groups. This finding led the researchers to conclude that surgeons may have screened older patients more carefully than younger patients. That’s probably a good thing.
A person’s overall health, regardless of age, may be the most important factor in determining whether or not she is a good candidate for aesthetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery is likely to be safer for someone who does not take a lot of medication for heart and lung problems than someone who does. If there’s any doubt, it’s probably best to undergo an evaluation by a primary care doctor first.
A great support system is also valuable. Having a family member or significant other who can help around the time of surgery can make everything go so much better. It’s nice to have someone who can help with meals, transportation, and dressing changes. Trying to do all of this alone can add risk. When you factor in cost, worry, discomfort, and time away, why add that type of risk?
Of course, choosing the right surgeon is important too. Before undergoing aesthetic surgery, consider visiting with more than one Board Certified surgeon. Have each surgeon show you results of his or her work (and make sure that the photographs are not taken from the internet or supplied by someone else). Pay attention to the experience during your visit. A good cosmetic surgeon should talk to you about your health and your living situation. He or she should let you know about what’s involved in recovery from the surgery. Is the surgeon just selling you an operation, or is the surgeon actually interested in helping you do well? Also remember that a surgeon’s office staff is a reflection of the surgeon. Keep in mind that it is the office staff that will be helping you the most around the time of your cosmetic surgery.
It’s really not a matter of age as much as a matter of health, a person’s social support structure, and the skill of the surgeon and office staff. The right combination of these things is likely to lead to the best result in the safest manner.
Yeslev M, Gupta V, et al. “Safety of safety of cosmetic procedures in elderly and octogenarian patients.” Aesthet Surg J. 2015;35(7):864-73.