One of the most important jobs I have is to thoroughly assess each patient’s physical and emotional readiness to undergo a procedure, and one of the most common ways this comes up is when patients ask whether they are “too old” for plastic surgery. I hear this question often at my Columbia office, particularly for those interested in anti-aging surgeries such as a facelift. If this is a question you have, let me put you at ease: Your candidacy has nothing to do with your age.
When we meet at the initial consultation, I engage in an honest discussion to gauge your expectations and listen to the reasons you are considering cosmetic surgery. I also complete a physical exam and learn your medical history. Those factors are what help me determine whether you are a good candidate, not the age on your medical forms.
A recent study from Aesthetic Surgery Journal that explored the safety of cosmetic procedures for older patients found that in more than 6,000 patients, complication rates were found to be just as low as with younger demographics. The conclusions reached in the study illustrated what I’ve experienced first-hand throughout my career as a plastic surgeon — a patient’s overall health is a more important factor than chronological age when determining whether someone is a good candidate for surgery.
My top priority in making that assessment is safety. For example, a younger person who is a smoker may not be a good surgical candidate, while an older person who has good diet and exercise habits may be a great candidate.
People who are concerned about a particular aspect of their appearance shouldn’t rule out consulting with a plastic surgeon simply because they are older. It is important to speak with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon who will be honest and straightforward in assessing all the other factors that determine good candidacy.