Childbirth and facelifts now occurs later in life

November 8, 2011

A facelift, like a hip replacement, is a way of getting ready for the long haul.
A facelift, like a hip replacement, is a way of getting ready for the long haul.

If you wait until you’re older to marry and have babies, does it make sense to wait until you’re older to have your first facelift? Although your skin may lack elasticity, your pocketbook, when you’re 65, may have the flexibility to accommodate plastic surgery. Or, you may be dealing with the opposite scenario. You may not consider a facelift a luxury. You may be working longer than anticipated because of a depleted nest egg and feel you need a facelift to keep you competitive in the workplace.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, “elective cosmetic procedures among patients age 65 and older, both surgical and nonsurgical, rose 29% from 2005 to 2010, to more than 680,000. During that same period, cosmetic procedures among the overall population fell 17 percent.”

David Sarwer, associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, has a simple explanation for this phenomenon. People know that they will live longer. A facelift is preparation for the long haul. Now that you’re living longer, why not make the most of it?

However you slice it, or lift it, physicians advise older patients to approach cosmetic surgery with greater-than-normal caution, according to the Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2011. “Rates of healing, reactions to anesthesia, the potential for complications—all can be different, and perhaps more problematic, for those age 60-plus.”

Anesthesia is an important consideration. Is there a choice of local or general? What are the risks and aftereffects for both? Thanks to preoperative exams for potentially complicating conditions, such as hypertension, anesthesia is probably safer than it has ever been for older patients. But potential complications are still a possibility, including such nightmares as postsurgical delirium, cognitive dysfunction and memory loss. Unfortunately, there are no comprehensive statistics on older adults and anesthesia complications.

Of importance to any older adult considering plastic surgery: there are temporary insurance policies available to cover complication risks. Most people know that cosmetic surgery is not covered by health policies, but what about plastic surgery complications? Jason Angus, president of Venture Specialty Insurance LLC, specializes in insurance against such risks. "What many plastic-surgery patients don't realize is that operative-related complications aren't covered either" by their primary insurance policies.” The prices of such policies usually aren't higher for older patients. They typically cost about $150 and are readily available.

If you’re an older patient who has undergone a facelift, you may be regarded with suspicion on your next airplane trip. Mary Lou Ray, age 65, Roanoke, VA, spent $13,000 on a face lift and other cosmetic procedures that resulted in such a successful smoothing out of her face that an airport security agent doubted she was the person pictured on her driver's license. 


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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