Can Old People Have Plastic Surgery?

Posted November 08, 2014 in Breast Augmentation, Facelift (Rhytidectomy), Home, Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Many people have Plastic Surgery, but is it safe for “old” people? Should there be an age limit on Cosmetic Surgery? Recent research shines a spotlight on the question, and what is reveals is very encouraging.

How Old is Too Old for Plastic Surgery?

The woman above is a patient of Dr. Suzanne Noel, a French Plastic Surgeon who was doing "lunchtime facelifts" in her apartment one-hundred years ago.

The woman above is a patient of Dr. Suzanne Noel, a French Plastic Surgeon who was doing “lunchtime facelifts” in her apartment one-hundred years ago.

How old is too old for Plastic Surgery? is a question I hear every week in my San Francisco Bay Area Plastic Surgery Office. My standard answer has always been that your health is more important than your age, and research presented at this year’s American Society of Plastic Surgeons meeting in Chicago backs that up.

Dr. Suzanne Noel, pictured above, was a gifted Plastic Surgeon and one of the first to perform outpatient surgery. Thankfully, today we use gloves. In 1924 she founded Soroptimist International Paris, the first Soroptimist club in Europe. The very first Soroptimist club was founded in 1921, in nearby Oakland, California.

Dr. Suzanne Noel, pictured above, was a gifted Plastic Surgeon and one of the first to perform outpatient surgery. Thankfully, today we use gloves. In 1924 she founded Soroptimist International Paris, the first Soroptimist club in Europe. The first Soroptimist club was founded in 1921, in nearby Oakland, California.

How Old is Old?

For me, the age at which someone is “old” gets a little higher every year. Perhaps, it is because my reference changes with my age. For the paper, Safety of Cosmetic Procedures in Elderly and Octogenarians Patients, the young group had an average age of 39 (+/- 12.5 years), and the elderly group had an average range of 69 (+/- 4.1 years). Investigators reviewed the outcomes of 183,914 people who underwent cosmetic surgery.

Differences Between the Young and Elderly Groups

There were some interesting differences between the young and elderly groups besides their age. There were more men in the older group (11.3% vs 6.2%), and the older group was a little heavier (average BMI 25.4 vs 24.2). There were more diabetics in the older group (5.7% vs 1.6%) and fewer smokers (3.4% vs 8.5%).

Different Folks Different Strokes

The Mommy Makeover, in this case Breast Augmentation plus a Tummy Tuck, is more often performed for younger women who are finished having children.

The Mommy Makeover, in this case Breast Augmentation plus a Tummy Tuck, is more often performed for younger women who are finished having children.

The two age groups also had different types of procedures. Younger women for example have more Tummy Tucks and Breast Augmentations and don’t need many Face Lifts. As expected, the elderly group had more Facial Plastic Surgery (69.2%) than their younger peers (12.0%).

Facelifts are more common performed after age 50, to reverse the sequela of aging: jowls, deep naso-labial folds and sagging neck skin.

Facelifts are more common performed after age 50, to reverse the sequela of aging: jowls, deep naso-labial folds and sagging neck skin.

And the Complication Rate is…

The most common complications with any surgery are bleeding (hematoma), infection and wound healing problems. The study revealed there was no difference in complications between the two groups. The complication rate for the younger group was 1.94%, while the complication rate for the elderly group was 1.84%. Even when selecting only the octogenarians, the complication rate was 2.2%, and still not statistically different from the younger group’s results. Each procedure was examined independently, and only the Abdominoplasty had a higher incidence of complications in the older group (5.4% vs 3.9%), so get your Tummy Tucks early.

Board Certified Plastic Surgeons

This study was for a group of patients operated on by Board Certified Plastic Surgeons. The selection of patients who are good candidates for Plastic Surgery includes more than the fact that someone wants surgery. It includes objective and subjective evaluations about safety and predictability. The was no data available for the number of patients who were declined Cosmetic Surgery because of health concerns. This study looked only at a group of patients who Plastic Surgeons felt were safe to have their selected procedures. It is not clear if the outcomes would be the same if another group of providers were making the selection.

If you are considering Plastic Surgery, select a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with experience performing your desired Cosmetic Surgery. If you are seeking a Plastic Surgeon in the San Francisco Bay Area who specializes in Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, give me a call at (925) 943-6353, or contact me through the contact form in the margin.