The fact is the majority of the population in North America is now considered to be “aging”. Still, many of these individuals show no signs of slowing down their busy lifestyles. We all know those active men and women in their early 70s who are bouncing with energy. Furthermore, our society is beginning to gain a more thorough understanding of the biology of aging, epigenetics, and telomere activity, allowing people to have control over how they look and feel as they grow older.
As a cosmetic surgeon in Toronto, I often see patients of this demographic at my office for BOTOX® Cosmetic, dermal fillers, and surgery to help reverse signs of aging. A patient I will always remember is an Austrian-Canadian Grande-Dame in her 80s. With her dress gloves in hand, she would come see me for a small amount of filler in her lips. I would only see her once each year, but it would always brighten her smile!
According to statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of cosmetic surgery patients over 65 years old has grown more than 352% in the past 5 years. A recent study presented in 2014 stated that patients over 65 years old who had undergone surgery from a board certified plastic surgeon experienced a minimized complication rate, similar to that of younger patients. Seems surprising and counter-intuitive, right?
It is worth noting that elderly patients had more facial procedures performed than their younger counterparts, 62.9 to 12 percent, respectively. The only cosmetic procedure that indicated a higher complication rate among older patients was abdominoplasty. However, the most common postoperative complications in older patients were hematoma (bleeding), infection, and problems with healing wounds.
Several doctors, myself included, agree that a patient’s health is more important than their age when it comes to cosmetic surgery. That being said, there are special precautions doctors must take with older patients.
Since cosmetic surgery is elective, it should only be undertaken if the patient is at minimum risk for these complications. Seniors who are healthy and active can be excellent surgical candidates, but there are numerous red flags to look for in their medical records, including a history of previous heart disease, emphysema, strokes, diabetes, and more. Before undergoing treatment, an assessment of their medications, especially blood thinners, by a medical doctor is mandatory. Assessing the patient’s network of friends and family is also important as recovery might be longer and they will need extra post-procedure care.
When determining what types of treatments and procedures to undergo, it is always wise to opt for shorter surgical procedures, or allow for an increased amount of time between procedures, in order to decrease the risk of complications. For example, in an older patient it would be common for me to do a facelift alone and a breast augmentation or eyelid lift several months later. And perhaps I would perform a simpler facelift on a 75 year old patient than I would a 55 year old patient.
And don’t be fooled by gender, older men receive face and eye lifts too! More and more men visit my clinics for BOTOX, fillers, and surgery than ever before.
An increasing number of seniors are keeping young, exercising, managing a healthy weight, and maintaining sexual activity. Consequently, they are able to enjoy a high quality of life, with a face and body that reflect the age they feel inside, not the number of years in their life. This likely explains the rise in cosmetic surgery for older people.
So what’s the moral of the story here? Older only means you’re getting better.
If you’re interested in learning more about treatments and procedures to help you reverse some of the common signs of aging, contact my office today to coordinate an appointment.