Plastic Surgery and Seniors


Plastic surgery is becoming increasingly popular with seniors. So says the St. Petersburg Times, in an article published in early September, 2010.

The article profiles a very active, happy senior named Barbara, now 75, who works out, takes piano lessons and volunteers. A few years ago she had an eyelid lift, then more recently a procedure to tighten her chin. Barbara’s plastic surgeon is quoted, saying that many people he sees are living longer, healthier lives and don’t really perceive themselves as old.

Indeed, the article points out that although just seven percent of cosmetic surgeries are performed on people at or over the age of 65, the number of senior surgeries has jumped almost sixfold in the past dozen years. The actual number of seniors seeking cosmetic surgery is about 675,000, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

While plastic surgery may give an older person quite a boost—the proverbial “new lease on life” even—there is the potential for surgery to be trickier than for a younger patient. Seniors are more likely to have health conditions that need to be taken into consideration, and they may be on medications such as blood thinners that could have an adverse impact. In a press release issued several years ago, the ASAPS noted that recovery time is often longer for an older patient as well.

In that same press release, the president of the ASAPS at the time, Dr. Malcom Paul, noted that popular cosmetic procedures are sometimes modified to suit the needs of a senior patient. Facelifts are one example. According to Paul, facelift incisions are sometimes positioned a little differently so the scars can still be hidden in thinning hair. In addition, older patients often ask for earlobes that have lengthened with age to be shortened during the procedure.

Eyelid surgery, another very popular procedure for seniors, is also handled with extra care. Paul said that since seniors can develop “dry eye,” tissue removal is more conservative than it might be for a younger patient.

Plastic surgeons may take more general precautions when performing a procedure on an older man or woman, and therefore surgery may cost more. A doctor may want to have extra medical assistance on hand, for instance, or even do the operation in a hospital rather than an outpatient surgical center.

Paul noted that older patients tend to be very satisfied with the results of cosmetic surgery. Most patients quoted in the article in the St. Petersburg Times seem to agree. There was one woman unhappy enough to sue her doctor, but Barbara and another patient named Vera were thrilled with their surgeries.

Vera’s quote was the best of all: “I never understand these people who say ‘I’m going to age gracefully.’ What the hell for?”
Published on EmpowHER – Women’s Health Online (
By Cathy Enns
Created 10/26/2010 – 10:02

Share Post