Plastic Surgery--Options and How To Think About Them

Plastic Surgery--Options and How To Think About Them

By Karen and Erica

We are all living longer and healthier lives these days, but in some respects our appearances may not always keep up. We may think and work and exercise as if 70 were indeed the new 50, but we may also have some bags and sags that don’t match the rest of us. We suspect in the next century things will be different, as evolution evolves, but what can we do today—not to look younger, but to look our age?

Plastic surgery is an obvious consideration. The options are greater than ever. And, importantly, the approach to plastic surgery has changed for the better.

“We used to think gravity was pulling everything down, so we pulled everyone tight. We saw all of the consequences of that—people looked pulled or really tight," says Suzan Obagi, associate professor of dermatology and associate professor of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. She's also the president-elect for the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. Now, "If things are done correctly, nobody should know what's been done on a patient.”

So what should you think about?

First, what can you get done? Pretty much anything. You can update places you didn’t even know you had places. Check out this list. But the three most popular procedures are facelifts, eyelid surgery (with or without a forehead lift), and a fat transfer to fill out your face.

Second, are you too old? No, you are not—provided you are healthy. Obviously, you will want to consult your own physician and whoever is going to perform the procedure before you decide what to do, but do not think you are disqualified just because of your age. As one Cleveland Clinic doctor said,

“What we found was that the older patients had no higher incident of major or minor complications than the younger patients.”

Third, cosmetic procedures may not be covered by insurance. But some of them may be. Just be sure before you start that you know where you stand.

Fourth, maybe the biggest question—should you do it? That is obviously something you as an individual must decide. Here are some thoughts that resonate with us:

If you look the way you think you should, then great. Plastic surgery may not be for you. However, we reject the idea that to address aspects of your appearance that have altered with age is somehow to betray your age. We have really enjoyed reading the book and blog of Ashton Applewhite, an anti-agism activist who has a way with words! She thinks plastic surgery demonstrates a prejudice against your future self.

“I really, really get the reasons why people dye their gray hair, lie about their age, and have cosmetic surgery,” she said. “But it’s not good for us, because it’s not authentic and it gives a pass to the underlying discrimination that makes those things necessary.”

We get that. Certainly we agree that trying to look like a teenager is futile and silly. And it is our general philosophy to accept the aging process—the good parts and the parts that may not be exactly what we want. But if you think your body does not show you as you see yourself, why not make a change to conform to what you see as your authentic self image? People our age really are different from people of the same age 50 years ago. Looking your age, but not “old,” does not give anyone a pass.

“I’m 60 and I remember when my grandfather and grandmother were 60 and it was like they had a foot on a banana peel and the other in the grave - and now (people their age) are skiing,” said Dan Mills, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

If you will be more visible, and have more power to change things, by not looking as if you are succumbing to “oldness”, why not fix things? None of us thinks twice about working out, and eating well, and doing other things that keep us looking vital, as a byproduct of being healthy and fit. Is plastic surgery really so different? Being 70 or 80 no longer means being “old,” so if we look “old” why not change how we look?

We are a new demographic. Never before have there been so many women of our age who are so accomplished, healthy and fit, and who have such a very long runway ahead of them. We should feel good about questioning everything, and exercising our agency to fashion a future that works for us. If that means plastic surgery, go for it!

The English Countryside: An Insider's Guide

The English Countryside: An Insider's Guide

"Age-Appropriate" Attire? It's Whatever You Choose To Wear

"Age-Appropriate" Attire? It's Whatever You Choose To Wear