Am I Too Old For Plastic Surgery?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on November 10, 2017 3 Comments

too old for plastic surgery

Christie Brinkley, now 63 years of age, has recently talked openly about the role of cosmetic procedures in her life saying, “I want to look as good as I feel.”  Today, more older adults are turning to cosmetic surgery to enhance their image than ever before. Whether you are re-entering the dating scene, concerned that your appearance may impact your career, or simply want to improve your look, plastic surgery can be a viable option regardless of your age.

Plastic surgery is for all ages

Individuals of any age who are in good health can benefit from plastic surgery. Facelift surgery, for example, is a procedure many people think is only for patients in their 50’s or 60’s. We see many patients in their early to mid-40’s who have loose and sagging skin and are excellent candidates for a facelift procedure.

On the other hand, many people are surprised to hear that patients who are age 55 or older actually have a fairly high demand for cosmetic procedures that are sometimes characterized as being for “younger people” (such as breast augmentation and liposuction). In fact, 18% of all Brazilian butt lift procedures were performed on patients over the age of 55 according to the 2016 ASPS plastic surgery statistics report.

Older age does not increase risk

Did you know that a patient’s risk of complications following surgery does not necessarily increase with their age? According to a 2017 study published by the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, older patients who underwent cosmetic surgery were no more likely to have complications following their surgery then their younger counterparts. The study compared 129 abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) patients who were split into two groups with the median age of 65 years and 41.5 years respectively.

Health matters more

The study does emphasize that the patient’s health is what really matters. All study subjects assigned to the older study group were thoroughly screened for any conditions that could increase the risk of surgery (like obesity, diabetes, or heart disease). Researchers noted that the results of the study could be dramatically different in the absence of such screening.

Older individuals do statistically have a higher rate of having certain health conditions. However, as long as they are properly screened by their surgeon prior to their surgery the risk of complication will be relatively low.

Lifestyle plays an important role

Beyond health conditions, lifestyle choices can play an important factor in considering a person’s candidacy for plastic surgery:

Smoking: Smoking cigarettes can increase risks associated with surgery by compromising the healing process.  Specifically, nicotine causes profound shrinking of blood vessels all over the body, so that the special cells that need to travel (in blood) to get to the healing areas cannot perform their function. As such, a 70-year-old non-smoker may be a better candidate for plastic surgery than a 40-year old who smokes a pack-a-day.

Drinking: In addition to sabotaging your skin, regularly consuming alcohol can reduce your candidacy for plastic surgery. A history of heavy alcohol use increases the risk for surgical complications for people of any age. Light to moderate drinkers, however, usually do not have any increased risk of complications if they refrain from drinking both before and after their procedure.

Diet: Patients who eat a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals have bodies who are typically better equipped to heal after surgery. The opposite is also true: people who eat lots of processed foods, saturated fats, and sugars face more difficulties during recovery and a higher chance of post-surgical complications.


Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

3 Responses to “Am I Too Old For Plastic Surgery?”

  1. Avatar Martina says:

    This is a very complicated question and the answer is not in the age, but in the health state. However, the great thing is that now there is an opportunity to choose whether to have surgery or injection treatments.

  2. Avatar Mira says:

    I know at least two my colleagues, who are 50+ and they undergo plastic surgeries once or twice a year. They refuse to get injections of fillers because of possible complications. Nevertheless, they trust their surgeons. I think this is a question of choice.

  3. Avatar Tracey says:

    I totally it’s up to the individual and what they want to risk or not risk it. Of course, if cosmetic surgery is what you want and feel you benefit mentally or physically from it there may be those who will just risk it for the results. I am not one of those and I am probably over cautious.

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