• Nip and Tuck: Older Adults Opt for Cosmetic Surgery

ROCHESTER, Minn. — While cosmetic surgery can't turn back time, a growing number of older adults are opting for surgery to help eliminate wrinkles, reshape breasts or suction out pockets of fat. The November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers this trend and the most popular surgeries.

In 2011, about 350,000 adults older than 55 had some type of cosmetic surgery. That number is expected to increase as the baby boomer population ages.

Cosmetic surgery presents the risks that are normally associated with surgery. But overall good health is a more important consideration than age. Healthy older adults who have a facelift have no greater risk of complications than younger people. However, chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes may make cosmetic surgery riskier.

Attitude and expectations are important, too. Cosmetic surgery doesn't cure dissatisfaction with a person's body or life. Patients who are happy with their overall life and seek surgery to improve one aspect of their body are more likely to be satisfied with the results. It may take six months before final results are apparent, and scars may take longer to improve in appearance.

Facelifts, breast surgery and liposuction:

  • A facelift can remove deep wrinkles and saggy fat deposits that create tired-looking eyes and jowls under the jawline. After surgery, the face will be bruised for four to six weeks. Returning to a normal appearance will take longer. Results are long lasting, especially when patients maintain a healthy weight.
  • One of the most common breast surgeries in older adults is revising previous breast implants, which can deflate or require replacement or removal. Some women opt for a breast lift, which moves the nipple and areola higher and removes excess skin tissue. Results are generally long lasting but can be affected by aging and fluctuations in weight.
  • Liposuction removes fat from the specific areas where it won't go away even with weight loss and maintenance of healthy weight. After surgery, the skin appears smooth when patients have good skin tone and elasticity. But in older adults, skin can be thin and lose its elasticity. In that case, skin may appear loose after liposuction.

Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today's health and medical news. To subscribe, please call 800-333-9037 (toll-free), extension 9771, or visit Mayo Clinic Health Letter Online.

Media Contact: Ginger Plumbo, 507-284-5005 (days), newsbureau@mayo.edu

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