Our fellowship-trained plastic surgeon, Dr Steve Merten, recently provided a look inside the plastic surgery field, answering questions regarding how age ties into the type of surgical procedure patients often receive. With his extensive background in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, Dr. Merten discusses the details of which age groups tend to get certain procedures. See below for his interview questions and answers.
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Q: Generally speaking, what do you find are the most popular procedures for each age group?
Dr. Merten: I find that patients in their 20s are less concerned with signs of aging and more concerned with other factors. This age group usually requests breast reduction, liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, and other cosmetic procedures that improve their overall look, comfort and confidence. My patients who are in their 30s often start considering non-surgical facial rejuvenation cosmetic procedures, and also surgical options to improve body issues after pregnancy and breast feeding. These treatments include breast lifts and breast enlargement, tummy tucks, liposuction, and stretch mark removal.
Patients that I see who are in their 40s often want more advanced cosmetic procedures, both surgical and non-surgical, such as facelifts, eyelid and brow lifts, tummy tucks, breast augmentation, stretch mark removal, and often as combination procedures. By the time my patients are in their 50s, the most commonly requested treatments include facelifts and other facial plastic surgery procedures, skin rejuvenation procedures, and reconstructive surgery. Patients that I see who are in their 60s typically want facial plastic surgery for a more youthful appearance, and body contouring to regain a more attractive body shape. This may include facelifts, brow lifts, eyelid surgery, tummy tucks, lift procedures, and liposuction.
Q: Why do you think those procedures are popular?
Dr. Merten: The patients who I see that are in their 20s typically do not have any signs of aging yet, so they are more concerned with comfort, confidence and “enhancement.” By the 30s my patients may have had children and also are starting to notice the first signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. This age group is also starting to notice small areas of stubborn fat or other visible signs of a slowing metabolism and physical slow-down. Patients who come to me in their 40s are very concerned with physical signs of aging in the face and body areas.
My patients who are in their 50s and 60s frequently ask about looking younger and more attractive, and this usually starts with the face. Reconstructive surgery is also required more commonly by those in their 50s and 60s because of skin cancers, injuries, or medical conditions. The popularity of the procedures for each age group closely correlate to the specific problems experienced during this time in the aging process.
Q: What is the most common age group in your practice?
Dr. Merten: The most common age group that I see are patients in their 40s, with those in their 30s a close second. These patients are often concerned with preventing or eliminating problems following pregnancy or early aging that can include loss of breast tone and volume, stretched abdominal skin and weak muscles, wrinkles, sagging skin, stubborn fat deposits, and poor skin tone.
Q: Are there any extra concerns/issues for senior aged individuals considering plastic surgery?
Dr. Merten: Yes. Seniors who undergo plastic surgery procedures may have additional risks involved, and I evaluate these very carefully in all of my senior patients. As we age our bodies may not be able to process and eliminate medications the same way, this usually slows down as we get older. In addition older patients may not heal as quickly, so the recovery time may take longer with these patients than it does for younger individuals. Muscle tone may also be decreased in seniors, and this can be a factor in the results achieved with any plastic surgery procedure.
Q: What is your response to patients who might ask, “Am I too old for plastic surgery?” or “Am I too young for plastic surgery?”
Dr. Merten: There is no specific age when plastic surgery becomes an option, or when it stops being possible, as long as the patient is a good candidate for surgery. There are some factors that are much more important than age. If the patient is in good physical and mental health, they have realistic expectations about the results of the desired procedure, and they do not have any medical conditions that could make the surgical procedure more risky, then they are probably a good candidate. The most important factor at any age is mental suitability, maturity, and realistic expectations. Partly for this reason, teenagers should be discouraged from considering cosmetic procedures until both their bodies and minds have fully matured. Reconstructive plastic surgery may be performed on patients who are in their teens or even younger, and many individuals who are 60 years old or older have plastic surgery without any complications during the procedures.
Q: Is there anything else about age-related procedures you’d like to add that we haven’t asked you about?
Dr. Merten: Anyone who is considering plastic surgery should have a consultion with a specialist plastic surgeon who is both experienced and highly qualified. Not only is every age group different, but also each patient is unique, with specific issues and considerations that need to be included in any decision. Plastic surgery does not offer any guarantees about the results that the patient will see after the plastic surgery, and age is only one of the many factors that needs to be assessed and evaluated before plastic surgery will be scheduled. In some cases less invasive cosmetic procedures may be a suitable alternative to plastic surgery, and this should be discussed during the initial consultation.
If you would like to learn more about a specific procedure, or would like to begin the consultation process, please feel free to contact us today.