The media often focus on the increasing demand for cosmetic surgery among the younger age group; the unbearable pressure on teenagers from social media to young women fretting over non-existent lines and wrinkles in the search for perfection. However, in recent years there has also been a rise in older patients seeking surgical intervention and although it might be easier to fix a clear lower age limit, is it possible to say if someone is too old for plastic surgery?
In 2010, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery found that nearly 80 per cent of OAPs surveyed would consider undergoing a cosmetic procedure. Here in the UK, Nuffield Health recently carried out a Plastic Surgery Survey and found that 64 per cent of Nuffield Health plastic surgeons had seen an increase in older patients seeking cosmetic surgery.
Why are older patients turning to cosmetic surgery?
Economics play a factor; the older generation are working longer than ever and are under pressure to appear as dynamic as possible in the working environment. Looking weary or stressed at work is seen as a negative, explaining the rise in anti-ageing facial surgery, especially the eyelid lift. Women, on the other hand, often feel that a more attractive physical appearance holds more sway when going for jobs.
Changing attitudes towards plastic surgery also play a role. The stigma attached to plastic surgery has slowly been disappearing and now it is seen as a perfectly acceptable option to try and look as young as you feel. It is not uncommon for retired people to seek cosmetic surgical improvement too and the baby-boomer generation are often comfortably well off and therefore feel no financial constraint either
Are there any reasons why older patients should not undergo plastic surgery?
I don’t believe it is possible to set an age limit on plastic surgery. Every patient that attends a plastic surgery consultation at my Leamington private practice is assessed as an individual, whatever their age.
We consider overall fitness, any specific medical conditions or medications they are on which would either rule out surgery or require special caution on the part of myself or my team. Also assessed are their psychological and mental fitness and the degree of support they have for the recovery period.
And, as always, I have to assess their expectations. Thus, whilst some patients may prove too old due to disposition or unrealistic expectations, others may be as mentally sharp and physically fit as much younger patients and therefore perfectly reasonable candidates for surgery.
In terms of healing, there be a slower recovery period, but the speed of recovery always varies from patient to patient whatever their age. As a general rule, scarring is also ‘kinder’ and less noticeable in the older patient.
This is one trend that I can see growing as this older, relatively prosperous age group continues to expand, with life expectancy rates on the rise.