There is no significant difference in the complication rate between “older” plastic surgery patients and their younger counterparts, prompting a team of researchers to conclude that surgical enhancement is generally safe as long as performed by board certified plastic surgeons.
According to a recent study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), patients aged 65 years and older can “safely undergo cosmetic plastic surgery without having to worry about the possibility of higher complication rate than younger individuals” when their procedure is performed by a qualified doctor.
The researchers reviewed the complication rate among the elderly who had surgical enhancements between 2008 and 2013 and found that it was 1.94 percent, which they interpreted as “statistically insignificant” compared to 1.84 percent among younger patients.
Even among octogenarian patients—i.e., 80 years and older—the 2.2 percent complication rate was considered statistically insignificant compared to those experienced by younger individuals.
The median age of senior patients was 69.1 at the time of their surgery, and for younger individuals it was 39.2.
The similar rate of complication between older and younger patients occurred even if there was a higher incidence of diabetes among the seniors, 5.7 percent versus 1.6 percent. At the time of their surgery, seniors also had a slightly higher body mass index than their younger counterparts, 25.4 percent compared to 24.2 percent.
According to data, the most common post-op complications in senior patients were infection, hematoma or accumulation of excess blood underneath the skin, and healing problem.
However, the researchers have noted that senior patients were less likely to be a smoker than younger patients, 8.5 percent compared to 3.4 percent.
Because smoking can increase the risk of skin necrosis, infection, and healing problem, most plastic surgeons agree that smokers have to avoid any tobacco product for at least three weeks before and after surgery.
Patients aged 55 years and older accounted for about 24 percent of all cosmetic procedures performed in the US last year, according to data released by ASPS. This trend is expected to even grow due to more seniors postponing retirement and the looming job insecurity.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smaili, who is not part of the study, says the patients’ chronological age does not determine their “qualification” for a certain cosmetic surgery, adding that physical health, current weight, and personal goals are the most important considerations.