Age does not appear to be an independent risk factor for higher complication rates in facelift patients. A new study found that when patients 65 and over are properly screened, complication rates were not statistically different when compared to younger facelift patients.
Researchers did a retrospective study of 216 women who had a facelift between 2005 and 2008 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.”
It’s expected that with the growth of the aging population, the number of older people seeking cosmetic surgery will increase. Currently, 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.
The study also found that the older patients were more likely to have higher ASA (overall health status) scores than the younger patients; the ASA score assesses the physical status of patients before surgery.
“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 additional studies are needed to define whether an age limit for safe facelift surgery beyond age 70 and 75 exists.
Facial plastic surgeon Dr. Mikel Lo is an expert in the endoscopic midface lift and one of the only cosmetic surgeons performing this technique in the Southwest.