Facelift Surgery Risks May Depend on More Than Age

Age alone is not an independent risk factor for facelift surgery, according to a new study that found complication rates were not statistically different when comparing older facelift patients to younger ones.

The retrospective study included 216 women who had a facelift between 2005 and 2008 performed by a single surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. The patients were divided into two groups by age: those under 65 (148 patients) and those 65 and older (68 patients). The average age was 57 in the younger group and 70 in the older group.

“Facelift surgery in the elderly has always been perceived to carry more post-operative risk,” said Dr. James Zins, Chairman of Plastic Surgery at Cleveland Clinic. “According to our study and pre-operative screenings, patients over 65 had no statistically significant increase in complications.”

Over 12 percent of the U.S. population is over the age of 65, and by 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, so the number of older people seeking cosmetic surgery will mostly likely grow.

The study showed that screening patients is an important part of the process before surgery. The older patients in the study were more likely to have higher ASA (overall health status) scores — which assess the physical status of patients before surgery — than the younger patients.

“It should not be generalized from the study that elderly patients can undergo a facelift operation with the same low complication rate as seen in the younger age group,” said Dr. Zins. “Careful screening of the elderly patients and excluding those with significant co-morbidities led to the low complication rate.”

The researchers said further studies are needed to define whether an age limit for safe facelift surgery beyond age 65 exists.

Learn more about facelift surgery.

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