Plastic surgery in seniors creates a tempest

August 19, 2011

One study found that the hazards of getting a facelift in people over age 65 are no greater than in the younger population.
One study found that the hazards of getting a facelift in people over age 65 are no greater than in the younger population.

Marie Kolstad, an 83-year-old widowed property manager, created quite a buzz when she underwent a three-hour breast lift with implants to the tune of $8,000. The New York Times features her photo in “Golden Years, Polished With Surgery,” August 8, 2011. Kolstad’s comment, “I want my children to be proud of what I look like,” has set off a tempest among readers who claim that children should love you for what you are, including every wrinkle and age spot.

According to the New York Times, “Ms. Kolstad is one of many septuagenarians, octogenarians and even nonagenarians who are burnishing their golden years with help from the plastic surgeon. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 2010 there were 84,685 surgical procedures among patients age 65 and older. They included 26,635 face-lifts; 24,783 cosmetic eyelid operations; 6,469 liposuctions; 5,874 breast reductions; 3,875 forehead lifts; 3,339 breast lifts and 2,414 breast augmentations.”

With this trend increasing now that baby boomers are over 65, there are concerns about the safety of performing invasive elective surgery on older patients. Also, judging from reader’s responses to the Times article there is also a judgmental attitude and plain old (pardon the pun) skittishness about grandma getting breast implants.

Few studies have focused on older patients and cosmetic enhancements. One report, published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in June 2011, found that the hazards in people over age 65 are no greater than in the younger population.

When researchers from the Cleveland Clinic reviewed the medical records of 216 facelift patients over three years, they found no significant difference in the instances of minor or major complications among patients whose average age was 70 from those whose average age was 57. Dr. James E. Zins, senior author of the study, says it’s not chronologic age that’s important but physiologic. However, Zins acknowledges that he has insufficient numbers to claim that patients in their 70s can undergo facelift and have a complication rate similar to younger patients.

While facelifts can be performed under conscious sedation, other reconstructive procedures typically require general anesthesia, which may be risky for an elderly patient.

But if you wonder what the real fuss about seniors going under the knife is about, Nancy Etcoff, assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, hits the nail on the head. “Part of our stereotype of old people is that they are social, warm and likable, but powerless and sexless. Here we are in the age of Viagra, but suddenly the idea of older people, mostly women, wanting to be sexually attractive at that age makes us uncomfortable.”  


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

Search by location (Zip, City, or Country)

Related Articles

Plastic lips to get rid of wrinkles?

September 25, 2013 - Remember those wax lips you used to chew on when you were a kid? Well, they seem to have inspired the latest fad in the anti-aging realm.

Yet another anti-wrinkle cream faces lawsuit

September 17, 2013 - It seems to be almost cyclical - every few months, a brand new, game-changing anti-wrinkle cream is introduced to the market, only to face lawsuits due to suggestions that the "scientific" claims made on the side of the bottle are absolute bunk.

Study: If you've got wrinkles, thank Mom

September 12, 2013 - Have you ever wondered why some people get wrinkles at a young age and others don't?

Handy tips to keep your hands looking youthful

September 10, 2013 - When people talk about the first signs of aging they noticed, they typically say they were shocked to see new wrinkles forming on their face.

"Facial facelift": the new buzzwords for anti-aging packages

August 28, 2013 - A facial facelift has slim resemblance to the facials your mother swore by.

Latest Articles

Plastic surgery on the runway at New York Fashion Week

September 26, 2013 - plastic surgery, plastic surgery before-and-after photos, Botox, Cosmetic Surgery, nose job, rhinoplasty, liposuction, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

Plastic lips to get rid of wrinkles?

September 25, 2013 - Remember those wax lips you used to chew on when you were a kid? Well, they seem to have inspired the latest fad in the anti-aging realm.

Illegal buttock injections are more common than you think

September 19, 2013 - How many times have you read a story about illegal plastic surgery in the news?

Yet another anti-wrinkle cream faces lawsuit

September 17, 2013 - It seems to be almost cyclical - every few months, a brand new, game-changing anti-wrinkle cream is introduced to the market, only to face lawsuits due to suggestions that the "scientific" claims made on the side of the bottle are absolute bunk.

Study: If you've got wrinkles, thank Mom

September 12, 2013 - Have you ever wondered why some people get wrinkles at a young age and others don't?

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.

WE ARE AESTHETICS.

Website: www.surgery.org
Follow ASAPS on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ASAPS
Become a fan of ASAPS on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AestheticSociety
Join Smart Beauty Guide: www.smartbeautyguide.com
Locate a plastic surgeon in your area:  http://www.surgery.org/consumers/find-a-plastic-surgeon

Copyright © 2009-2012 ASAPS. All Rights Reserved.