80 is the New 60
In the last year, the number of 75 to 80- year-old individuals who have come to my office for cosmetic procedures has increased significantly. Body contouring, facelifts and fillers in preparation for celebrating the big 75 and 80-year milestones has been a recurring theme. Each one has said they don’t feel their age and they want their appearance to reflect how they feel.
A recent patient of mine had always wanted a tummy tuck ever since her last child was born, but never made the time or felt she could justify the expense. For her 79th birthday, I performed a tummy tuck on her and she was thrilled with her result - so much so that she went on to have a facelift, this time just before her 80th birthday. She had a wonderful celebration and sent me a card saying she looked better at 80 than she did at 60.
So why are we seeing a rise in octogenarians having more cosmetic procedures?
It’s actually an extension of the previous generation who were more open to the idea of cosmetic surgery now entering into their 7th and 8th decades. They have had positive experiences with their aesthetic doctors and are familiar with the art. There is a greater social acceptance of plastic surgery in this group, and a drive to maintain their youthful appearance which clearly has not diminished with age.
We are also seeing a ‘new breed’ of 80-year-olds. These individuals are healthy, active and vibrant people with busy schedules and strong ties to their communities. Many still work or sit on Boards of companies. They are probably the healthiest group of 80-year-olds we have ever known. I can’t tell you how many times I have been beaten cycling up a hill by a 70 to 80-year-old cyclist in Southern California, or out-performed by them in a cardio class - and I’m in pretty good shape! Since they are in great shape, their risks associated with surgical procedures remains low.
Statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reflect this phenomenon as well, with more octogenarians having cosmetic procedures. Interestingly, a recent study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, demonstrated the safety and complication rate in this population was the same as their younger peers.
During a lecture on facial aesthetics, I had a colleague ask when I stop offering aesthetic procedures to patients in their later years. I was surprised by the question, because we assist people looking to enhance their appearance regardless of their age. We bring balance between the way one feels and the way one looks to themselves and to others. Medical conditions may influence procedure options, but age certainly does not.
As patients are feeling younger longer, it is clear that our industry will continue to see older patients expressing a desire to defy the aesthetic aspects associated with aging through cosmetic surgical procedures. Why shouldn’t they look as good as they feel?
To learn more about safety of cosmetic procedures in elderly and octogenarian patients, check out this paper.