Cosmetic surgery after 65? Of course!
By Andrea Goto
My mom is in her early 70s and looks fantastic—just as she has her entire life. Yet during our FaceTime conversations, she’s constantly looking at her own reflection, pulling at her neck and pushing her eyebrows northward.
“I look so old.” I assure her that no one looks good on a FaceTime call; I know because I’ve spent a lot of time trying to come up with the right angle, chin positioning and lighting and yet I still look like a turtle.
Mom has always cared about her appearance. She’d never leave the house without makeup or every hair in place. She always told me that when you look good, you feel good, and that’s been my experience as well. The problem is, looking good—and consequently feeling good—was much easier in our 20s and 30s. There’s the inevitable jowls, neck sag and eyelid droop that comes with a life well lived and, yes, the passing of time.
“If you don’t like it, why don’t you change it?” I ask.
“A 70-year-old woman getting plastic surgery? That’s silly,” she says, dismissively.
Is it? A growing number of people 65 and older would argue otherwise. According to a study by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic surgery, 143,000 Americans ages 65+ had plastic surgery in 2016, which has more than doubled in the past two decades. Most of that increase has occurred in the past 5 years.
There are a couple of theories as to why more and more older Americans are opting to go under the knife, most often for a facelift or eyelid surgery. Culturally speaking, cosmetic surgery is no longer considered as being only for the Joan Collins of the world. While once reserved for the rich and famous, decreased costs and increased payment options make procedures more affordable. Additionally, the stigma of plastic surgery is waning. Fewer people are “going away for a while” and then coming back with a not-so-subtle new face. Today, we’re more comfortable talking about our procedures and are opting for subtle improvements over the pulled-tighter-than-a-drum look.
In my mom’s case, yes, there’s the social pressure to stay attractive, but more importantly, she feels good on the inside and wants the outside to match. Baby Boomers like herself are living longer, more active lives. They feel young and want to look young. And, they can afford it.
The older the patient, the more risk involved, but it’s only slight. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity may preclude a patient from a procedure because of complications that can occur under general anesthesia, but your surgeon will determine if you’re a good candidate for surgery and make you aware of all risks and options.
We can’t turn back the clock, nor should we want to because with age comes insight and wisdom. But surgery can shave off a good decade from our appearance, letting our still-youthful spirits be seen.