Depending on how old you are, or how visible the signs of aging are on your face, facial plastic surgery might be something you believe you’ll think about “someday.” But, is it possible for you to reach an age when “someday” will have come and gone? Although age is really just a number, there are some considerations to think about if you are older and thinking about plastic surgery.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 24 percent of all plastic surgery procedures were performed on people age 55 and above in 2013, an increase of 3 percent from the previous year. Although more people might be having surgery later in life, it might not be the right choice for everyone.
One of the most important factors when it comes to deciding whether or not a facelift or eyelid surgery is the right call for an older patient is that person’s health. It’s a good idea for a patient of any age to have a full medical exam, either before meeting with a surgeon or during the consultation. A full medical workup is even more important the older you are.
Certain chronic conditions, such a diabetes and high blood pressure, tend to be more common in older people. Usually, these conditions make having any type of elective surgery a riskier proposition. If you do have diabetes or hypertension, your surgeon might advise against the surgery. Taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, can also mean that surgery isn’t a good idea. Your surgeon will let you know which medicines should be avoided in the weeks before surgery, as well as which habits should be avoided.
If you smoke, for example, you’ll be asked to stop. No matter how old you are, smoking can make healing after the surgery more difficult, as it restricts your blood flow.
Having realistic expectations about what facial plastic surgery can do and can’t do for you is important at all ages. It can be even more important when you’re older. Generally, people over the age of 60 tend to have fairly realistic expectations about their surgical results. While you can take about a decade off of your appearance with surgery, it is unlikely that you’ll once again look like a 30-year-old, or even 45-year-old, if you have surgery at age 70.
You also want to have realistic expectations for the healing and recovery process. Older people might need more time to recover than a person who is 40 or 50 and in good health. Give yourself time to recover afterwards. You might want to take the full two weeks off from work, if you’re still working, to give yourself time to bounce back.
Complications and Risks
Risks are involved with any facial plastic surgery procedure, even those that are performed younger people in great health. While it can be easy to assume that the older a person is, the higher his or her risk for complications after surgery is, that’s not necessarily true.
There haven’t been many studios examining the differences between younger patients and older patients when it comes to the risk for complications. But, two recent studies suggest that, for the most part, the risks are similar among patients of different ages. A 2011 study from the Cleveland Clinic looked at 216 patients over the course of three years. It founded that people over the age of 65 did not have a greater risk for complications than younger people, as long as the older people were fully screened before the procedure.
A larger and more recent study, from Vanderbilt University, looked at 129,000 patients over the course of five years. It found a minimal difference in the rate of complications in patients over age 65 and in patients under age 65. The rate of complications was 1.94 percent for people over age 65 and 1.84 percent for people under 65.
There were about 6,700 older patients in the study, with an average age of 69. Not all of the older patients were in the best of health, either. There were higher rates of people with diabetes and higher body mass indexes among the older group.
The Vanderbilt study also looked at the risk for complications in an even older group of patients. In people over the age of 80, the rate was 2.2 percent, slightly higher than in younger patients, but not significantly.
If you are considering facial plastic surgery, age shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Scheduling a consultation with specialist, like Dr. Jessica Kulak at the Naderi Center, can help you decide if you are in good enough shape for surgery and if the procedure is right for you. To schedule a consultation at the practice in Virginia, call (703) 481-0002. For an appointment in Maryland, call (301) 222-2020 today.