How old is too old for plastic surgery?

More and more patients in their 70s and 80s are seeking cosmetic surgery, and many ask the same question; "Am I too old for this?" The aging Baby Boomer generation, those born shortly after World War II ended, is a large segment of the population who are successful and smart and certainly don't consider themselves too old for anything! An extreme, but valid example is Mick Jagger, who is 73 and just fathered his 8th Child!

This same generation is enjoying the fruits of a combination of meaningful medical advances and an active lifestyle embracing a healthy diet and vigorous exercise routines. They are living longer, feeling better and not interested in retirement. Simply stated, they want to look as good as they feel! Since 50 is the new 40 for their younger whipper snapper counterparts, 80 is the new 60 to this generation! Hence the surge in cosmetic surgery for these individuals. Recent statistics released by The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reveal a record increase in the number of cosmetic procedures performed on people in their seventh and eighth decades. They don't necessarily want to look really young, they just don't want to look old!

Popular procedures include not only facial rejuvenation, like facelifts and eyelid tucks. Many patients seek body contouring operations like liposuction, Tummy tuck and even breast augmentation and reduction. In fact, I just performed a breast reduction on a 75-year-old patient who desired the operation for years, but her work schedule and busy lifestyle prevented it. A month after the surgery she was beaming with satisfaction and stated that she wished she had done it decades earlier!

So, what is the medical criterion for these individuals? In reality, it is quite similar to all other plastic surgery candidates. Realistic expectations regarding postoperative desires and results is important. If general anesthesia or sedation is planned for the procedure, the patient needs to have someone to escort them home and tend to them during the first night and possibly the next day. Older patients sometimes require a bit longer recovery period, and I usually advise them to plan for it. Finally, I usually require all patients over 50 to be medically cleared by their primary care physicians, or when necessary, sub-specialists like cardiologists.

As with any surgical patient, careful planning before and after the operation paves the way for a smooth postoperative course.

About the Author:

Robert Tornambe, MD

Medical Advisor, Trueself

New York City Plastic Surgeon

Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Tornambe has been practicing plastic surgery for more than 25 years. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, was featured in NYMAG's "Best Doctors" issue, and was the Chief of Plastic Surgery at NYC's Cabrini Medical Center for 20 years.

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