Summary: It’s always been difficult to tell when old age sets in, and when it’s prime time to start combatting it. There’s always been some fear that you might end up waiting too long, that it might be too late to get plastic surgery by the time you finally settle on doing it. But new research seems to suggest that cosmetic surgery is as safe for older patients as it is for younger patients—that is, that there is no appreciable rise in complications due to age. This might give you a lot more breathing room.

A Question of When

Perhaps since its inception, aesthetic plastic surgery has been dogged by one question more than others: when? That is, what’s the right age to undergo aesthetic plastic surgery? It’s a difficult question to answer—if only because it’s such an individualized question and there are many factors to consider. Generally, if you’re in your late twenties, that’s far too early for a facelift, but it might be just the right time for a breast augmentation. Of course, the timing on a breast augmentation may also greatly depend on the ideal time to have children, and whether you want to undergo that procedure before or after your body goes through the process of childbirth.

No Time Like the Present

So maybe we can be a little more specific. Generally, this question of timing—the perfect age to get plastic surgery—is asked in reference to those procedures aimed at aging: face lifts, eyelid lifts, even tummy tucks. All of these procedures are designed to combat the appearance of aging, and so performing them on a youthful body makes no sense. That said, everyone has a different definition—a different lens—through which they view those advancing years. The threshold for “old age” is different for everyone.

An All Ages Show

New research present in October at Plastic Surgery The Meeting, held annually by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to exchange scientific information, might open this question up even more, as it suggests that age is not a factor that raises the chances of complications during or after plastic surgery. In fact, both age groups presented complications just under 2% of the time—that was true for the 40 years old group and the over 60 years old group. The only procedure that seemed to indicate any difference was abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), but even that wasn’t statistically significant.

Other Factors

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some factors that are worth looking at. According to the website of the New Jersey tummy tuck experts at East Coast Advanced Plastic Surgery, those candidates who wish to undergo the surgery should be in relatively good health. In fact, one of ECA Plastic Surgery’s main requirements for all candidates is that they refrain from smoking—which significantly increases the risk of complications. This is also true of conditions such as diabetes and obesity. It seems these are a more potent factor in predicting complications.

Your Best Behavior

It should also be noted that the complications in the older and younger groups were slightly different. In the older group, complications tended to focus on infection and wound healing. This wasn’t necessarily the case in the younger group. It’s also worth noting that simply because the complication rates are similar, does not mean that other behaviors are similar, as the procedures to which these groups gravitate towards are significantly different. The younger groups tend to lean towards procedures such as breast augmentations or breast lifts, where as the older groups tend to focus more on procedures such as facelifts.

We’re Ready When You Are

The nice thing about cosmetic surgery, of course, is that there’s something for everyone. In a way, then, everyone is able to strive for the body—for the youthful look—that they want, and this research out of Chicago’s Plastic Surgery the Meeting (especially if it’s verified by later research) seems to indicate that age alone should not be a factor that keeps you from pursuing that goal.

So while there may not be a “perfect” age at which to schedule your plastic surgery, you can at least be confident that there is no wrong age to schedule the procedure. In the end, it’s really more about how old you feel—and how young you want to feel tomorrow.

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