By Lisa Jevens
published in Chicago Tribuneand Los Angeles Times, Prime Time senior living
Americans spent more than ever on cosmetic surgery in 2013—more than $12 billion. Nearly 2 million procedures were performed, a 6.5 percent increase over 2012, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
More seniors 65 and over are having cosmetic surgery, and account for nearly 10 percent of all procedures, up from about 7 percent just two years before. Those 50-64 years old account for 30 percent, also a high.
“A lot of people didn’t have money for a while. Now they do,” says Dr. Steven Teitelbaum, a plastic surgeon based in Santa Monica, Calif.
“Wanting to look younger goes back thousand thousands of years,” Teitelbaum says. He sees plenty of senior patients who want to look younger, and expects to see more in the future, because seniors are not as “old” as they used to be.
“People are living healthier, better, longer lives,” he says. “The 70-year-old today is not the 70-year-old from 20 years ago.”
Internists are now more comfortable referring older people for cosmetic surgery procedures, Teitelbaum says. “They are not going to say you are crazy if you are a 70-year-old who wants to get plastic surgery.”
Part of this is because technology has improved and there are less invasive procedures today.
“Surgical techniques are much better,” Teitelbaum says. “There is less blood loss. The anesthesia is much better, and it’s safer, physiologically. People used to get transfused during breast surgery 30 years ago. I’ve done breast augmentation on women in their 60s and 70s.”
After a series of six breast augmentation surgeries and surgery re-dos since 1972, at age 64 Carla Hannahs of Newport Beach wanted a natural look with less scar tissue. She searched for a doctor who would give her a natural look. She says her recent surgery in March with Teitelbaum was worlds away from her first procedure.
“The changes in plastic surgery over the years have been amazing. It’s so much less invasive,” she says. “The first time I could barely move or get out of bed. This last time I was amazed at how good I felt and how fast I healed. I had the surgery on Tuesday, and I was driving on Friday. I just felt so good.”
Now, four months after surgery, she says the results are also the most natural she has ever had.
Another trend making those cosmetic surgery numbers rise is the fact that people are working longer, and both men and women want to avoid looking like they are past their prime.
Teitelbaum relates a recent email from a male patient who had chin implants and eyelid surgery four years ago. He is now 63 and wrote: “I need to squeeze another 10 year from my career,” Teitelbaum says. “ He inquired about a facelift. Facelifts last around 10 years, depending of the condition of your skin, Teitelbaum says.
When you look at cosmetic surgery statistics, it’s important to realize that most patients are not actually going under the knife. In fact, most aren’t. Nonsurgical injections such as Botox, Juvederm, Sculptra and others account for 83.5 percent of all cosmetic surgery procedures.
Injections can do things like ease lines in the forehead, plump a wrinkled upper lip, or fill out a sunken cheek.
If you think the facelift is the most popular surgery for the 50-64 crowd, you would be wrong. Liposuction (lipoplasty) surpassed it in 2013. In fact, liposuction procedures increased 16 percent in just one year overall.
Advances in technology have made this surgery easier on patients. Lipoplasty removes deposits of excess fat from specific areas of the body including the face and neck. It can slim hips and thighs, flatten the abdomen, shape the calves and ankles, or eliminate a double chin.
There are a number of different kinds of liposuction procedures that work in different ways. Some use ultrasound or lasers to liquefy fat before it is suctioned out of the body.
The average cost of liposuction is $2,866, according to 2013 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
The most popular nonsurgical procedure for the 50-64 age group is Botox. The facelift remains the most popular surgery for those 65 and over, followed closely by eyelid surgery.