The aging process commences immediately after birth. As time marches on, the changes in one’s appearance gradually become more and more apparent. While some individuals have “good genes” and age gracefully, others can appear much older than their years due to various factors, including heredity, smoking, sun exposure, and a generally unhealthy lifestyle.
Many people begin to notice the first signs of aging, such as fine lines, thinning lips, and an overall loss of facial fullness, around the age of 40. The upper eyelids can also start to sag, and bags (herniated fat pads) might appear under the eyes. Oftentimes, these early signs of aging can be treated sufficiently with minimally invasive injectables, such as Botox and Dysport, which can be effective in relaxing the facial muscles that create wrinkles as they contract. Fat fillers can be utilized to fill in fine lines and improve facial contours, while dermal fillers like Restylane can be used to fill in deeper creases, such as the “laugh lines” that can develop on either side of the nose and mouth. At this point, injectables and/or fillers might be all the treatment a patient wants or requires. These types of minimally invasive treatments can also postpone the need for a surgical facelift procedure. On the other hand, people who have developed more pronounced signs of aging might contemplate a surgical approach, such as a facelift, to help turn back the aging clock.
Can a patient’s age preclude cosmetic surgery?
Certain older individuals, especially those who are beyond retirement age, might think that plastic surgery is not a viable or worthwhile option for them. Some might feel that they no longer have to try to impress anyone, while others think that they are simply too old for plastic surgery. However, it’s important to keep in mind that many cosmetic procedures, such as facelifts and other facial rejuvenation techniques, can sometimes erase years from a person’s appearance. As such, these procedures by their nature are not intended to be performed on young people.
An advanced chronological age, in and of itself, does not contraindicate certain types of cosmetic surgery. Rather, an individual’s physiological age – including his or her overall health and fitness level – is a much more important factor than chronological age in determining candidacy for any type of surgery, including plastic surgery.
Who is a good candidate for cosmetic surgery?
Prospective patients of all ages – not just seniors – must meet certain baseline criteria to ensure that they are good candidates for plastic surgery. Those criteria include:
• Good overall mental and physical health with no uncontrolled chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes
• A stable, healthy body weight
• No cigarette smoking or other tobacco use
• Sufficient skin elasticity
• Realistic expectations
• Appropriate motivations
• A full understanding of the procedure and its associated risks, potential complications, and recovery time
With regard to motivations, the distinction between an emotionally healthy reason and an emotionally unhealthy reason for desiring cosmetic surgery can be subtle. For instance, consider the difference between a prospective patient who says, “I want to look younger,” with one who says, “I want to look better for my age.” The latter is more likely to be satisfied with the outcome of a cosmetic procedure, and thus is a better candidate.
In sum, if an individual is in good health and has reasonable expectations along with a true desire to enhance his or her appearance, he or she is not too old for plastic surgery. During a personal consultation, a trusted cosmetic surgeon can review these factors and others to help a prospective patient make an informed decision on the most appropriate course of action for his or her personal circumstances and objectives.
Consult with a Board Certified Surgeon
Any individual who is interested in plastic surgery is encouraged to consult with an experienced cosmetic surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only board certification for cosmetic surgeons that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Board Certification in plastic surgery requires graduation from an accredited medical school, along with highly rigorous training. This training includes completion of a surgical residency program specifically devoted to plastic surgery, as well as successful completion of comprehensive written and oral exams.
Katie Perry is an online content editor in the Tampa Bay area. She posts articles about plastic surgery
topics and procedures including breast augmentation, breast implants, and more.