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Plastic Surgery Risks May Depend on More Than Age

WEDNESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Age alone should not be the sole determining factor when deciding whether an older person should have plastic surgery, a new study suggests.

In following 216 women over the course of three years, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that, if screened properly, people who have facelifts after age 65 are at no greater risk for complications than those who are younger.

More than 12 percent of the U.S. population is older than 65, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and many of them have plastic surgery every year.

"Facelift surgery in the elderly has always been perceived to carry more post-operative risk," Dr. James Zins, chairman of plastic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, said in a news release from the clinic. "According to our study and pre-operative screenings, patients over 65 had no statistically significant increase in complications."

For the study, published online May 27 in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the researchers analyzed how 148 women younger than 65 and 68 women older than 65 had fared during facelift surgery as well as any complications that resulted from the procedures. They found that complication rates were not statistically different between the two groups, suggesting that age is not an independent predictor of risk.

The researchers pointed out, however, that the proper screening of older patients is essential.

"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," Zins said. "Careful screening of the elderly patients, and excluding those with significant co-morbidities, led to the low complication rate."

The researchers also noted that additional study would be needed to determine whether there's an upper age limit for safe facelift surgery.

More information

The AARP has more on potential risks and complications of plastic surgery.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Cleveland Clinic, news release, May 27, 2011

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