Deciding Who is a Suitable Candidate for Surgery

Am I Too Old?

Some patients considering plastic surgery worry about their age and whether or not they’re too old for surgery. It’s important to realize that age by itself isn’t what doctors look at when it comes to candidacy. Learn more about the factors plastic surgeons look at when deciding if an older or elderly patient should undergo a cosmetic surgery.

Between 2011 and 2012, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that the number of cosmetic procedures in men and women 55 or older jumped by six percent. In this age group, the three most popular facial cosmetic surgeries are brow lift, eyelid surgery, and facelift. Each of these surgeries requires anesthesia, and that’s where the biggest risk comes into play. Surgeons must be very careful when using anesthesia in older patients due to higher sensitivity and organ function.

How is Your Health?

Cardiac function changes as you get older. The cardiac system is less responsive than in a younger patient, and there is a higher risk of irregular heart rhythms, arrhythmias, and high blood pressure. All of these pose risks that must be carefully monitored when anesthesia is used. In some cases, the use of anesthesia may not be advised.

Patients must be honest with their surgeon during the consultation. A health exam is necessary before any surgery. Some older patients are great candidates for cosmetic surgeries, but always be prepared to have a surgeon say it’s just not safe. If you find out you’re not a good candidate, don’t give up hope. There are non-surgical alternatives, such as Botox, fillers and mild chemical peels, that can help you look younger without risking your safety.

What Medications Do You Take?

Older patients are more likely to be taking blood pressure medications, blood thinners, and vitamin supplements. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can lead to complications during a surgical procedure.

It’s important to make sure your plastic surgeon has a comprehensive list of all medications you take, even for supplements like vitamin E. Medications like aspirin and supplements like vitamin E increase your risk of bleeding during and after a surgery. Melatonin can enhance the effects of anesthesia. If it’s impossible to stop taking these medications without risking your health, you may not be an ideal candidate for the surgery.

Is the Facility Accredited?

Never agree to a surgery in a clinic that is not accredited. Accredited facilities must meet the requirements of a governing organization, such as the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. These requirements ensure the staff has the right training and credentials, safe operating room practices are followed, and that the facility utilizes proper sterilization procedures.

With an accredited facility, there is a reduced risk of complications or death and costs are usually lower. Having a certified anesthesiologist monitoring you during the surgery is ideal when you are an older patient, and that happens in an accredited facility. In addition, many accredited facilities allow patients to stay overnight or for a couple of days. You gain the benefit of having around-the-clock post-surgical care, and there is equipment on-site if an emergency occurs.

Watch the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery’s video titled Is Plastic Surgery Right for Me? If you’re still interested in cosmetic procedures, schedule a consultation with a board certified facial plastic surgeon. Dr. Sheldon Kabaker provides facial plastic surgery in Oakland and San Francisco. Call (415) 379-9015 or complete the online form to schedule an appointment.

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