More and more people over age 65, instead of slowing down, are just getting their second wind and are energetically gearing up for the second half of their life. As such, many are electing to have facial, etc, restorative plastic surgery because they want to look as young as they feel.
In fact, older Americans are fueling the upswing in plastic surgery as more and more Boomers start to turn 65. Even those in their 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s are having “work done”. Women age 85 are having breast lifts with implants and men in their 90s are having eye and neck “restorations”. They’re healthy and they want to stay actively participating in their social and work lives.
Since 2010, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has reported that there were 84,685 surgical procedures among patients age 65 and older. These 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.
But isn’t plastic surgery more dangerous in older age groups? According to the Cleveland Clinic, in studies they did on over 200 face lift patients over 3 years, there was no significant difference in major or minor complications in older people or those younger. What’s important is not the chronological age of the patient but rather the physiologic age – what shape is the patient in? Do they have any chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease, or take medications which could complicate surgery?
Some critics of plastic surgery in older people maintain that there hasn’t been enough research done on them – because until recently, not many older age people were getting this type of surgery. One of them, Harriet Washington, an author of 2 books on medical ethics issues, maintains that doctors, as well as their patients, have ‘embraced the technology before we’ve embraced the ethical questions and dimensions’.
Yet, most of the older people who have gotten cosmetic surgery would beg to differ. In what research that has been done on them postoperatively, most report a significant psychological boost in happiness and self-esteem with their improved, younger looks. At the same time, a minority of these patients undergo a degree of emotional upset with their new looks.
Other social scientists, like Nancy Etcoff at Harvard Medical School, raises the question of the cultural beliefs and perceptions about what “older people” should be, look like, and act like. In 2013, with more older men using Viagra and both sexes getting reconstructive surgery to be more sexually attractive, older Americans are moving far away from the stereotype of being likeable, yet powerless and sexless.