Is 70 the new 50? Some seniors say it is, and they're taking steps to make sure their appearance validates that belief. Seniors are visiting plastic surgeons in record numbers for cosmetic procedures aimed at turning back the clock.
It might well be that Baby Boomers are making cosmetic surgery recession-proof. The number of American babies born in 1946 was 20 percent higher than those born the preceding year, History.com reports. By 1964, these post-World War II youngsters represented almost 40 percent of Americans.
Today, Baby Boomers make up one-fourth of the U.S. population. Members of this group of 79 million Americans can expect to live up to 93 years old and are seeking surgery to enhance their appearance in the highest numbers in history, according to the Stony Brook School of Medicine.
In an effort to take aim at society's notions about senior citizens, many Baby Boomers are interested in looking younger. But due to financial considerations, many seniors will end up working years longer than they expected. As a matter of fact, the Employee Benefit Research Institute says fewer than 15 percent of Americans who are at least 50 plan to retire by the time they turn 70. Seniors who keep working past the retirement age they once envisioned have to survive in a competitive work environment with many younger workers.
Demand for cosmetic surgery among seniors is on the rise
To stay competitive, many seniors are turning to cosmetic surgery to help them look younger. In 2010, around 3.3 million U.S. residents who were at least 55 opted for cosmetic procedures, including 85,000 cosmetic surgeries.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) says that in recent years, the number of seniors seeking cosmetic procedures has increased more than 352 percent, making them the largest group of patients by age category. Their attitude toward improved body image might even be more progressive than that of the general population.
In a 2010 survey by ASAPS, 67 percent of respondents indicated that they wouldn't be embarrassed if people close to them knew they had undergone a cosmetic procedure. Among those older than 65, a whopping 77 percent said they wouldn't mind being open about it.
Favorite cosmetic surgery procedures among Baby Boomers
Which procedures are most popular among seniors? Most patients opt for eyelid rejuvenation surgery, but a story on ABC News reports that a woman from Orange County, California, decided to get a breast lift and implants at the age of 83. She says her doctor has other plastic surgery patients who are even older.
Of the cosmetic procedures performed in 2010 on individuals who were at least 55, facelifts ranked first at 26,735 surgeries, followed by 24,783 eyelid procedures. The remaining popularity contest winners were procedures for liposuction, breast reduction, forehead lift, breast lift, and breast augmentation.
Cosmetic surgery risks for seniors
As more seniors seek surgical solutions for a fountain of youth, healthcare providers have raised concerns about the safety of these procedures for such mature patients. The idea of an 80-year-old opting for one or even multiple cosmetic surgeries has caused concerns regarding anesthesia and other possible risks among some plastic surgeons.
A Vanderbilt University Medical Center study that looked at five years of data for 129,000 patients found that seniors have no higher risk of complications than their younger counterparts. The survey concluded that when procedures are performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, patients older than 65 are able to safely experience cosmetic procedures and have a low complication rate, similar to that of younger people.
The chief concern, many surgeons believe, should be the overall health of each patient instead of his or her age. For example, individuals with systemic illnesses such as diabetes or who must take medications like anticoagulants represent elevated surgical risks. For this reason, before performing a cosmetic procedure, many plastic surgeons require patients to get clearance from another physician.
The bottom line
One thing is certain: Cosmetic surgery is no longer only for the rich, famous, or the young. Seniors are challenging and redefining society's definition of what retirement should mean. They're active, and many are still competing for jobs in their 70s and 80s. This fastest-growing group of cosmetic surgery patients is determined to look younger and more vibrant than their birth certificates suggest they should.
Interested in learning more about what cosmetic surgery can do for you? Visit our before & after gallery to see some of the results achieved by Monarch’s board-certified plastic surgeons.
Stephan Baldwin is the Director of Business Development for AssistedLivingCenter.com, a resource for senior care communities.