The Golden Years, Polished With Surgery

Many over 70 are opting for plastic surgery, but with little research on older patients and invasive cosmetic procedures, there are concerns about safety.

Comments: 125

  1. I had a very successful facelift at 82, from a top plastic surgeon who insisted I spend a night in the hospital. No complications.

  2. "And I want my children to be proud of what I look like.”

    This is sad, pathetic.

    Your children should love and be proud of you for the good parent and friend that you've been to them over the course of their lives.

    As for them being proud of the way that you look... they shouldn't care as long as you're relatively healthy and not disfigured due to an accident etc.

    They should be proud of the 'real' you, and not some money-grubbing plastic-surgeons fake silicone version of you. You should be proud of the person that you are at 83... not the sagging factor of your breasts. Just my opinion.

    Anyway, it's your 8K... or was your 8K.

  3. I can understand wanting to look as good (by society's standards, which we are stuck with) as you can afford to. But I can't see women wasting the results on a geezer. All they're looking for is a nursemaid, hopefully one who won't go all frail and demented as soon as they do. If you're healthy enough to be interested in relationships at 75 or 80, why not go for the payoff?

  4. Just as I've been saying, "every day in every way we are getting better and better".

  5. Are any doctors offering senior discounts? Deals from AARP?

  6. I don't believe in plastic surgery after age 70 unless you've been bitten by an animal on the face or breasts...which of course happens now and then. Women and men who deny life's course and the interesting paths (cf wrinkles, sags, bags,spots, blotches, whatever) life makes on our faces and bodies appear the tiniest bit pathetic and sometimes look like mutton dressed as lamb. They aren't realizing that there is no cure for aging. Burn this!

  7. When it becomes the norm to go under the knife, society's picture of aging becomes skewed. The negative associations of looking your age reflect the fear of death in our culture. Cut and pull all you want; there's no escaping that journey.

  8. I can't see spending 8K to have my face or breasts pulled and stretched into a simulation of youth, when there are thousands of kids in the world who can't get their cleft lips repaired. Having a facelift won't make you live any longer, and that face will be dust soon enough. Take good care of your skin, send your discretionary money to Smile Train, and try to have positive interactions with others while you can.

  9. How shallow. How American.

  10. The woman looks fantastic at 83. I say more poewer to her.If I can look that good at 83, I'm goint to get a couple of lifts, allso.

  11. Who are they kidding? Most women who have had plastic surgery look like they've had plastic surgery -- a physical alteration that can never be confused with youth and vitality.

    I can't imagine my son being proud of my looking like an alien life form.

  12. I think many people unnecessarily turn themselves into aliens by having too much plastic surgery, like Joan Rivers and sadly, Tori Amos, and I would never consider plastic surgery for myself unless some tragic accident befell me.

    But, I found this article somehow uplifting. In a society that worships youth and ignores the elderly, I have no issue with those of advanced age getting a few alterations. If done responsibly I'm sure it does wonders for elders' self confidence and overall-well being.

  13. If I had extra money for a facelift, I would rather use the cash to take a nice trip to Paris, again. Stay in a better hotel than tourist class and take taxis rather than torture my feet walking all day. Probably my friends and family would still like me with a baggy face and fat stomach. Except the hypercritical relative who judges people by thier clothes, hair, nails, etc. I know I was beautiful as a young woman and fortunately did not have a big investment in my appearance when my attractiveness vanished.

  14. I commend anyone who feels they want to improve their appearance. Why not? The only valid question the article poses is are there any undue health risks? If not, then go for it if you can afford it and want to do so.

    Why do we have such foolish prejudices against the elderly in the U.S.?

  15. I find that most people who get plastic surgery don't look any better. They just look like someone who's had plastic surgery. LOL

    Also, to me there is nothing more cheap looking than an older woman who has still-perky C's or larger. I mean, does anybody seriously believe they are naturally still that round and high?! All they need to round out their impossibly lush bosoms are some red nail polish, lots of gaudy jewelry, and a hair color (ideally that weird brassy 'orange' color) and a style that's been 'done' at the hair parlour after their weekly hair washing.

  16. Interesting story. Noted that you said the woman lived in Orange County, CA.
    Orange County is not a City. It's a diverse, densely populated county with many different cultures. So please cite the city when writing a story. Anything else is lazy reporting that reflects a lack of respect for non-NY locations.
    Thank you

  17. God, I'm so distracted by my concerns about having enough live on in old (older?) age that I can't really get into this.

    But assuming for a minute a world in which everyone could afford these procedures, I can't be overly judgmental, much as part of me would like to be. But values have changed from when I was a kid in the Sixties. The fact is, the intersection of ageism, lookism, sexism (I assume a disproportionate number of older women are having these late-life surgeries) is complex.

  18. I see most of these comments as criticism about older adults and a form of ageism. You don't ready very much about the feckless 20 and 30 year olds who have nose jobs and liposuction.

    What about when an older adult needs or wants to continue working? Looking as good as you possibly can just makes sense.

  19. And who is paying for all this surgery?

  20. "How shallow. How American."#9

  21. I agree with JR at #7. I firmly believe that the more attempts you make to look younger than you really are, the more fearful you are of ageing and death. Those who can accept the fact that they will change over the years, and that it's everybody ELSE who needs to learn to deal with it..they are the ones who will have the happier golden years.

    You can nip and tuck and inject all you want but nothing can ever remove that look of angst so often found on these very same people. Take a deep breath and just accept things as they are. You'll look far better, for a fraction of the cost! ;-)

  22. All for it... until the part about attracting geezers. Geesh. They're not worth it. Go live your life and spend all that money on YOU. Not for THEM.

  23. Unfortunately, society perceives people at either extreme of age in the same way, and the attitudes expressed by some commenters and by some in this article illustrate this : senility=infantility, and vv. That is, old people and babies lack ability to make informed decisions, they have no idea 'what they're getting into', someone must protect them from themselves, and society has a right to dictate how these people should dress and appear. And, above all else, they just need to be pleasantly cute and appealing to their mommies or their grandchildren.

    This attitude is so patronizing to older people, who, it turns out, are not really babies (wow?!). The older people here run their own businesses, raised their families, and seem to have successfully navigated life so far. They want, like all of us, to have looks which match their perceptions of themselves and their youthful energy. They want a breast lift or a face lift. AND they can pay for it. AND they can give informed consent. Why the generalized concern about older people and plastic surgery? Why is anyone even writing an article about this?!

    Also, as illustrated here, many older people are still living their lives as if they were 20-30 years younger. These 'new old' people seem healthy. and they have energetic and optimistic outlooks. Why should they deprive themselves of a body to match that outlook? Really, chronological age has very little to do w/ the issue of appropriateness or safety of plastic surgery.

    Oh, by the way, the ladies in this article gave me the 2 best laughs of the day, so far. It would be great if we all only needed to see our doctors when we want plastic surgery! And honey, don't settle for some 'old geezer'. I think you can do better than that.

  24. This whole worship of looks is a vicious cycle. Women want to look good, because that's what society (and by implication, men) want. Then they go under the knife to make themselves all pretty, and end up attracting exactly the types who value looks over substance. And then they wonder why the man doesn't see them "for who they are". If this lady wants to impress a geezer, then that's what she's gonna get. She's only feeding the stereotype and perpetuating the problem.

    I understand societal pressures coming from employers and potential mates. Really, I do. But what I don't understand is why your very own children and grandchildren should want you to look all polished up. Or why you'd feel like they do. If your closest family can't accept you for who you are, then who can? If you don't feel comfortable with them, can you with anybody? The idea that grandma gets a boob job so that I would be "proud" of her is ridiculous, and no, I would not be proud. I would be embarrassed and freaked out. I'm proud of her wrinkled radiant face because it's a map of her long, hard and happy life. I'm proud because she accepts that, and because she's wise enough to rise above the obsession with looks. At her age (85), obsessing over face lifts and breast implants is pathetic and laughable. And the thought that she'd want to do such a thing for ME would only insult me and my respect for her.

  25. The sad thing about this article is the ageism it reveals, whether by the author, or by comments from people like RC.
    The tone of the psychologists and ethicist cited in the article, that someone cannot give informed consent in their 70's or 80's, is precisely part of the reason these people choose plastic surgery: they are tired of being patronized due to either their age or the appearance of their age.

    They are healthier individuals than most 50 year-old Americans which is the reason plastic surgeons do not consider them a liability risk after assessing these people's health, and factoring in the patient's physiologic age, rather than chronological age. No diabetes, no hypertension, no coagulant therapies: these are the risk factors to refuse to perform surgery, including how the patient heals post-operatively. These are active people, including many who still like working.
    To correct Nancy, even people in poor health can be interested in relationships, and the "payoff" is appearing as one feels, active and vital, not to seek a job as a "nursemaid".

    The women in the article represent 85% of people who experience longevity. That means only 15% of that population are men, who happen, as well, to have the same very-low rates of morbidity.

    Unless one wants to choose same-sex dance partners, that makes either stiff competition or hoping to find someone younger to treat them as young and vital as they truly are.

    The harmful psychology in any of this is patronizing, judging or depriving these wonderful, independent people of their autonomy to continue to make their own decisions in making their lives productive and happy, including their appearance.

  26. Just as long as they give up their car keys I don't care what they want to do.

  27. To no. 13, Carol: I hope you get back to Paris! There are still wonderful, modestly priced hotels in very central parts of the city where you wouldn't even have to take that taxi: you could just enjoy strolling at your leisure, then sitting in a café in the Luxembourg Garden or the Jardin des Plantes. Most French women know how to age gracefully and even quite elegantly without ever giving plastic surgery a thought - good luck!

  28. Years ago my aunt got breast enhancement surgery...which created a strange curiosity. When she passes on will her breasts still be left standing?

  29. These women look lovely, and if plastic surgery made them feel happy I think thats wonderful, but I'd be wildly disappointed in my children if they were ashamed or embarassed by their 80 year old momma's saggy chin and breasts.

  30. Two months ago, I had a facelift. Although I'm not in my 70s yet (I'm about to turn 59), I see nothing wrong with cosmetic surgery as long as you're in reasonably good health, have a little extra money, and aren't seeking a radical transformation. Life is short and we're all going to die, so you might as well do whatever you choose to please yourself.

  31. I've read posts #1-14 so far, and I cannot believe the ageism expressed in these posts. It is paradoxical. On the one hand, these commenters want older people to be proud of their bags and wrinkles. Fine. But then they comment in such a negative way about said bags and wrinkles, and compound this negativity with comments about being 'pulled' and 'pushed' into 'alien life forms' with surgery. Maybe this is not common knowledge, but most people who have a face lift or work on their eyelids do not turn out looking like Joan Rivers. With good and proper surgery, they just look like they feel -- a little younger. How horrible.

    The posters unwittingly demonstrate very outdated and prejudicial attitudes about aging. They demean the process of getting old. They then demean people who want to do something about aging, citing issues of 'dignity' or 'pride' as their arguments. Very strange.

    By the way, I care for older people as part of my profession. I see the whole spectrum of the aging process routinely. I would say that the majority of the older people I see actually have more modern attitudes about their bodies and about aging than what younger people are expressing in these posts. Astounding.

  32. "Some are preening for potential mates and want their feathers to look their freshest."

    I found this statement in the article most hilarious.

  33. I, too, find it sad to read of people as such ages who are still so concerned with their appearances that they would take such relatively drastic measures so late in life. Really? Shouldn't this be a time when you turn your attention to keeping your mind sharp and stimulated, rather than stimulating...well. Besides, gals, if you actually land a nice young stud you're just going to (a) fall asleep, or (b) break your hip.

    Skin-time's over at 70. Be happy with your suit and spend more energy and money on the suit's contents.

  34. What a drag it is growing old.
    She went running to the shelter
    of the a plastic surgeon helper
    Oh Doctor please, I want less of these
    ugly wrinkles that reveal my age.

  35. I'm so stuck here. Background--I'm generally a by the books liberal, happy to pay my fare share of taxes to ensure decent healthcare for the elderly and poor, good education, etc.

    And part of me says, don't be judgmental, it's their dough (assume it is), who cares if an 83 year old wants better boobs? More power to her.

    And another part says this is what's wrong with America. We're so focused on appearance that we've lost our minds in some regards.

  36. God bless these ladies, I wish them well. With that said, it usually does little for their biological age. Females are a species, that does not age well, in our youth culture. If older men avoid a beer belly and keep their hair they can get by.

  37. Jon -#25-- Thank you for your sane assessment. I was feeling quite alone in addressing the horribly sexist and ageist comments here! DH-- Did you know that some MEN (!) who are 85 also get plastic surgery. Sexist comment #1) assuming only women want plastic surgery.

    And the rest of you: did you know that some people with 'saggy bosoms' or lax eyelids (men AND women) or lax jowls (men AND women) don't care that they are 85 years old?! They feel young, enjoy having a nice appearance, and they have decided they do not need to cater to your outdated opinions about what 85 year old people should do. And DH, if my grandmother was in good enough health to want a breast lift, I would be happy and thrilled for her and I would certainly not be embarrassed by her youthfulness.

  38. Wants her children to be proud of what she looks like? How superficial is that? Vanity obviously runs in the family.

  39. I hope that this does not mean that everybody feels pressure to endure lots of plastic surgery. Although this could make some people feel better about themselves, there are also horror stories. Being able to age gracefully and taking care of one's health would seem like a better goal.

  40. The area they are not focusing in on is mental health. Unless there is an urgent medical need for surgery, it is folly to play around with the natural body. Better to focus on diet and exercise, then you'll feel mentally better about what you see in the mirror.

  41. Personally, after having had surgery for health reasons, I couln't ever imagine doing it voluntarily! But I do think it is fine if someone feels happier or more attractive with plastic surgery. They are not hurting anyone. As another poster said, life is short - enjoy yourself.

  42. Ms. Kolstad noted, "your breasts go in one direction and your brain goes in another." In this case, it seems they both went in the same direction.

  43. Sounds like medical men preying on insecure women.

    Agism combined with sexism and greed. This is the shame of our medical syste,

  44. Ironic that antique furniture with original patina is worth far more than if "restored" to newer appearance. After seeing many workovers at a local spa some are downright scary and get scarier as they age. Personally in autos and women I prefer the original condition compared to those that were overly restored.

  45. Most younger people don't want to contemplate the reality that older people are still sexual. That's why it bothers them when older people express a desire to be attractive. There's nothing creepy or pathetic about an older woman wanting to be attractive. I personally find it sad when I read about teenage girls and women in their twenties getting Botox and surgery.

    As long as young women are the only people capable of bearing children, men will find younger-looking women attractive. Politically incorrect though it may be, that's the reality. And if a woman wants to attract men, there's no reason for her not to do what she can to make herself attractive, if she can afford it.

    Most people who have plastic surgery look good. You don't know they've had it. The extreme cases, like Joan Rivers and Michael Jackson, are not the norm.

    The article talks about the psychological repercussions of cosmetic surgery. Wouldn't this be true at any age? And what about the psychological ramifications of looking in the mirror and seeing an old, wrinkled face when you feel young and energetic?

    I am not in this age bracket yet, and when I am, I won't have the money for this. But if I could, I would not hesitate to indulge. I am happy for people who have the means to do so, if that's their choice.

  46. No one is ever going to admit it to the patient/client after all the money they spend and their high hopes, but almost anyone starts to look HIDEOUS and scary after anything more than minor tweaking. I find myself turning away suddenly due to the repulsiveness of the unnatural look. They all start looking the same freakish way, which they think is normal. Talk about clueless.

    It's like someone with a dark, leathery tan 'Oh, what a great tan you have!' while thinking 'ICK!'. The only person the client is fooling is themselves, but then again, that is who they are trying to please anyway. Shameless selfishness on display for all the world to see, and cringe over.

  47. Why so many judgmental replies? What's happening out there such that no one seems to be able to distinguish a moral issue from a personal decision anymore? How people spend their discretionary income can be very interesting, but unless the spending is on something clearly immoral, why does anyone feel free to criticize? Catherine of Michigan says one woman in the story should save her money and donate it to Smile Train? Well, Catherine, you're opening yourself to people who might ask why you don't live with threadbare carpet or in a smaller home or decline all gift-giving occasions and spend the money you save from any of these on Smile Train. I have not had a facelift, but I do wear makeup and color my hair. And I really don't see any distinction between those behaviors and having a facelift, other than the medical issue. And the medical issue was what I would have thought the article was about, given that that's what the writer said it was about.

  48. I feel like if they have the money and the desire to have the change to their appearance then go for it. I don't think that it is for me but if
    it helps you feel better about yourself then its probably a positive thing.

  49. Ras, the statement that they cannot give informed consent is not patronizing at all.
    Informed consent necessarily requires full disclosure. Ergo, where information is entirely unknown, as is the case with medically unnecessary procedures of people in this age group, it is not possible to obtain informed consent because the doctor cannot fully disclose any risks not known to her.
    This precisely presumes the patient's autonomy.
    To say they could obtain informed consent absent information necessary for full disclosure would be *truly* patronizing becasue it would displace the patient's decision for one made by doctors who aren't even aware of all the relevant info.
    You seem rather confused here.

  50. To me, the disparity between chronological age and a "new look/looking newer" is always jarring, as are the differences between the reconstructed and original body parts. Sorry, but the smile always looks stiff and incomplete because of the various cuts, lifts and ties. Trying to look younger surgically is surrendering some of the dignity of elderhood. We should be proud of the wisdom, and if not wisdom at least the experience, that we have accumulated, and the true look of age should be a badge of honor and worn with pride. But who am I to judge? Wait. . . I am me. QED.

  51. These articles presume that people over sixty-five are "old". Some are but, these days, those "old" people are either the unlucky, who have genetic predisposition to certain diseases, or unwise, who did not take care of themselves when they were younger. For many, sixty is in fact the new forty. Yet I feel that those over sixty are being pushed -- shoved -- into old age by a society that is not ready to shift its expectation that over-sixty Americans will retire, die and otherwise shut up. Plastic surgery for those who, at sixty or eighty, are healthy and want to erase some inescapable consequences of aging -- sagging breasts, e.g. -- are being questioned and, by implication, stigmatized -- for example, in articles such as this one -- because we don't want to shift our expectations of age and aging. I am not going to retire at 65; forget it. My parents worked into their eighties and, barring a health catastrophe, so will I.

    I have a photo, taken in 1915, of my great-grandmother. At the time that the photo was taken, she was about the same age that I am now; yet she looked, literally, like a woman today of 100. My mother at age 90 looked younger than my great-grandmother at sixty. That was not due to plastic surgery, but rather better health care, nutrition and living conditions.

    Face it, America. We're not going away, and we're going to look good while we're here. Deal with us.

  52. I'm 72 and my kids tease me about my saggy-baggy self; if I exercised more, I'd be in far better shape. But I am, fortunately, healthier than most people my age and do not look as old as I am. I can't afford plastic surgery even if I wanted it, but I don't see why they should be berated if women of a certain age want to look what they believe is their best. Everyone assumes they're doing it for guys -- or geezers, although that was so obviously a JOKE, folks -- but how 'bout they're doing it for themselves?

  53. Interesting article. I think it's great that these older (old?) people are healthy. I don't see a problem with plastic surgery. People spend thousands on hair, makeup, and clothes, but get on their high-horse about surgery. Really, it's just a more intensive and permanent means to the same end - to look good. The problem I see is that many of these women look like they've had plastic surgery. Good surgery looks like nothing has been done. You just look great. That's not so easy to do.

  54. Several people have used the word "deprive" in their comments to describe their attitudes toward a patient's access to this kind of procedure.

    The notion that an inability to obtain plastic surgery is a "deprivation" of any kind is truly odd.

    In a society where large numbers of people cannot obtain basic health care, access to good nutrition, or treatment for diseases that severely hinder their quality of life, the argument that anyone has a right to access medically unnecessary procedures to assist their egos is patently offensive. Until society recognizes and supports the idea that people have a fundamental right to basic health care, it is asinine to wring hands over whether anyone, young or old, is being deprived in any way if they are denied cosmetic procedures.

  55. To those crying ageism, I don't think you realize just how ageist your own comments really are. To say older people are being denied some important part of life by not obtaining plastic surgery is to devalue what they DO have.

    It is a posture taken from a stance of pity.

    If a 25 yr old woman said, 'I've stopped growing, and I'm just a small B cup. Give me silicone! I can't compete!' people would probably react with some level of disgust at the amount of narcissism involved. Yet when a 70 yr old does the same thing, to take an entirely different approach is to imply that you, in fact, agree that there is little for this person to offer a potential partner other than her breasts.

  56. I personally can't stand what a face lift does to most people and I don't intend to go that route, but I can understand the American (in particular) obsession with looks. It is perpetuated in every media in the country and when little girls are already consumed and worried about their looks at age 10, what do you THINK is going to be their obsession at age 20 or age 70? Real people recognize real beauty-it comes from within.

  57. plastic surgery will not yield 'power' to any one at any age.

  58. #37 says

    “I was feeling quite alone in addressing the horribly sexist and ageist comments here! DH-- Did you know that some MEN (!) who are 85 also get plastic surgery. Sexist comment #1) assuming only women want plastic surgery.

    Predictable that at least one person would cite the monumental statistical exception to the rule, as if it has relevance… which it doesn’t. I’d remind #37 that some of us have been off of the farm once or twice, and have read a book or two.

    According to the American Plastic Surgeons Association, 91% of all non-reconstructive *elective-cosmetic* surgeries performed in the US are performed upon women.

    Factoring in these same surgeries on a world-wide basis, the % rises to almost 95% of all non-necessary elective cosmetic surgeries… are sought by women.

    Of course, someone will predictably claim that these self-accountable, intelligent, emancipated women of the world, who spend their savings, borrow from family and creditors, are being coerced by a patriarchal system, and will lay the blame there. But you can’t lay the blame of these numbers upon anyone else other than those who intelligently and self-accountably opt for them.

    To be self-accountable, intelligent, free to make your own decisions, make those decisions… and then blame societal and patriarchal pressure for your decisions, is hypocritical and, frankly, infantile.

    Growing old with dignity was once one of the most admirable things in a civilized society. A million dollars worth of plastic surgery at 83 isn’t going to give you youth, or even the image of youth to those around you who aren’t legally blind.

    If anything, it more probably will lead to most sensible adults concluding that your focus on fake augmentation is an indication of shallowness, as oppossed the depth of real augmentation of the inner self.

    Nothing wrong with wanting to look good at any age... but this is obsessive.

  59. The "How shallow. How American" blanket statement from #9 makes me laugh. Let's not make the judgment that cosmetic surgery is only an "American" thing. Check the facts and brush up on your knowledge of the many other cultures and societies in the world that practice cosmetic surgery in some shape or form. Some have been doing it long before the US. The difference is that most American people are open about discussing it and doing it. Hooray for the freedom to do this.

  60. "Really, it's just a more intensive and permanent means to the same end - to look good."

    It's really not *just* that. It's a medically unnecessary surgery which carries substantial known risks and probably some that are not so well known (yet) for that age group. Buying clothes and makeup really isn't in the same category.

  61. To Alan, yes, putting breast implants in a 20-something is signing that woman up to roughly one major surgery per decade for the rest of her life. These things do not last forever, and once you've done it, you really cannot go back unless you want to live with a deformed chest (the skin and muscle are grossly stretched and it won't shrink back up if they are removed.)
    And there is, of course, the serious health risks associated with placing silicone in the body for decades. It WILL leach. The question is how fast.
    These people should really not be insurable.

  62. I'm for aging naturally and for people accepting the changes that come with aging.

  63. I was born a homely, unattractive woman. I don't care what anyone says, you get judged by your looks. As soon as I could afford it I had my big nose reduced, and my receding chin fixed, followed by a breast reduction and an eye lift (the lids were almost over the lashes).
    Those of you who babble on about 'aging gracefully', well just you wait until you've spent a couple of years being invisible. Salespeople ignore you, waiter's ignore you, the doctor patronizes you. When you cease to be noticed, then you'll call the plastic surgeon.

  64. So there are dangers to looking younger. Otherwise aging is risk-free.

  65. these must be the rich who aren't paying taxes, otherwise older people cannot afford this type of surgery. nor would any family members, other than those looking eagerly for an inheritance support such a stupid elective operation that can result in terrible consequences.

  66. Golly. Here I am at 55 and thinking how nice it is not to have to be what my daughter refers to as a PYT, or pretty young thing. My friends and family don't mind my matronly appearance and love and respect me for who I am, not what I look like.

  67. Out of 66 comments, I am amazed that no one has mentioned the greater comfort that certain plastic surgery can confer - specifically, breast reduction. My aunt had such surgery at age 70 (years ago) and was thrilled that her shoulders and back didn't hurt anymore as the burden had been lifted. Also, the deep ridges in her shoulders where the bra straps had dug in disappeared by a few months after the surgery. She was thrilled and delighted that she had undergone this operation and even talked about her new size C breasts to others. What a great opportunity for her! And for others who may choose to make their lives more comfortable.

  68. How pathetic. Women in their 70s and 80s, still worrying about what other people -- especially men -- think of their looks. A sad commentary on our culture's priorities. But hey, it's their money.

  69. If there are complications, are the Taxpayers going to be stuck with the bill , via Medicare??

  70. Why can't we embrace aging in this society? Aging is such a beautiful part of life and it's upsetting to me that people feel pressure to go under the knife in an effort to look younger.

  71. Makes a good argument for means-testing for social security.

  72. I believe your article missed looking at one extremely important possible complication. Anesthesia can have negative affects on the aging brain, particularly if there is any early dementia or a genetic propensity towards Alzheimer's.

  73. While everyone has a comment about plastic surgery the pros or cons and what it means to society..I say look at the simpler picture.Regardless of ones's opinion these people are doing something that they feel is positive.They are happy productive adults who seem to be enjoying life.Bless them.On the other end of the spectrum are the"frail elderly" who are subjected to painful and risky procdeures by "well meaning" doctors and family members who forget that there is a circle of life.As a health professional I can say without any doubt that a healthy 80 year old having a cosmetic procedure to make them happy is their business.But take a frail chronically ill 80 year old in for risky heart surgery?? Where is the debate on that?

  74. This just depressed the hell out of me. I hate that we can't just look like we look and have to worry about looking young in order to get a job or respect or a companion. Why or why can't all those things come with age - which would make more sense to me.

  75. as long as the results look good, why not go for it? age discrimination is rampant. young people think all us oldies are ugly---oh well. i remember when i thought 30 was ancient. lol

    or they could donate the money to a child in need of medical care! what would you do with $10,000?

  76. I am not there yet, but I imagine it will be very freeing to be old and wrinkled, able to shave my head and wear outrageous clothes and not have to worry about attracting "some old geezer." I also have to say you don't have to have plastic surgery to be an absolutely stunning older woman. Look at Georgia O'Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, or Maya Angelou for some gorgeous older women whose radiance, intelligence, and creative spark makes them beautiful at any age.

  77. #19 asks, "who is paying for all this?"

    What business it is of yours? It's not covered by Medicare, that's for sure, so it's not happening on your precious taxpayer dollar. Unless you're Mother Teresa, blindly condemning these people as shallow, selfish or disgusting is just wrong. How dare you tell someone else how to be happy? Someone who has plastic surgery at 80 could lob the same accusations of selfishness at anyone who buys a $600 iPad or wears a nice suit. Those who post holier-than-thou comments need to get over themselves.

  78. I, too, was born homely. In the USA, this is not a way to live or be employed well. It helps to be pretty.

    So, I have nothing against anyone with money deciding to improve their looks. Just be aware, that inner beauty plays a big role before and after change by a knife. I have had a fairly good life by developing personality and some grace. Still, being pretty as a woman in our society has its merits. After all, campaigns for it are relentless.

  79. Anesthesia processes differently as we age. The risks of general anesthesia was not discussed

  80. As a plastic surgeon , i can tell you that there is no age for plastic surgery, it is about health. Old people are currently the most grateful and and have the best attitud before going to the O.R.
    Surely those against writing here are young peopleand would like to talk to them in some years.

  81. If you don't like other people telling you what you can and can't do (and most of us don't) then don't criticize these women for doing what they want with their own money. Medicare doesn't pay for cosmetic plastic surgery.
    Live and let live.

  82. I think several people have addressed it.
    This is a sign of a realliy idiotic "culture." In normal cultures, people accumulate experience and wisdom well beyond young people can have and this wisdom has value. To please TV/Oprah (now I am thin, now I am fat) raised crowd instead of insilling real moral values and a sense of human dignity is barbaric.
    Has anyone noticed how fascist this cult of youth and beauty is?

  83. As a woman facing the signs of aging in a very ageist industry, I totally understand the comment about breasts going one way and the brain the other.

    But the fact that these women -- all of whom seem to be healthy, smart and successful in life -- feel the need to cater to the expectations of others is not only sad, it ups the ante for the next generation.

    Today, if you are a woman and don't have coiffed hair, makeup, nice clothes and an underwire bra, you are slovenly or have let yourself go and are practically invisible to men. You can go broke on eye creams and moisturizers and pedicures. I've long since jettisoned as much of that crud as I can get away with in my profession (and geeks are given a lot more latitude that other professions). But if cosmetic surgery becomes the new "normal," my generation has to not just worry about being able to eat something besides cat food in our old age, but whether we have to have the budget for 5 figures of surgery in order to stay active and taken seriously? Preposterous.

    Men don't age better, we just accept their aging as normal. Let's not continue to drag young men into this cycle, let's free the women to be judged for their abilities instead of their teats.

  84. wow-amazingly judgemental readers here in liberalotopia. what someone does with their money, not yours--hmm. what about fat folks who do gastric bypass or some such--some on medcaid-? no will power to stop feeding themselves? what about breast implants for cancer? orthodontia for adults and kids? you're born with it so live with it? hair coloring? teeth whitening? burn victim skin grafts? appearance plays into all of this. if it's their own money and not, the public till--wtf? why don't the really judgemental here move over to their favorite publicly assisted groups and ask about personal funds spent on tattoos, hair designs, nails, that can run 800 a pop. That's their money for fun while yours covers their food/shelter --and you have a say.

  85. Why would any one would like to have plastic surgery at 82 years old,we must be happy as we grow old and thanks the Lord for allowing us to reach that far in life,and beside what happen when you had that face lift done and you look at the rest of your body? who is kidding who, vanity does not go to far, is the isde not the out side that counts,stay the way you are and be happy.

  86. #68 congrats to your aunt! Good for her! I am having this same surgery next month at the age of 48 for the same reasons you aunt did and I suspect that the only regret I'll have is that I didn't do it sooner.

  87. I just hope that these wasteful procedures are paid for in full by the individuals undergoing them.

  88. It seems to me that the more obsessed we get with Hollywood and celebrities the more important looking youthful becomes. Whenever I see someone in a movie or on TV that has aged naturally I am shocked because...they look their age! Very few people(especially women) in the media allow themselves to do that, hence this perception that one must look young to be accepted. Sad.

  89. I think is rather unfair to consider that people in their 70s or 80s have lost their right to look and behave how they feel.

    Aging is never gracefully. Never. It is inescapable and it gets us all, but it is never fun, it doesn't look good and it doesn't feel good. The changes that take place with the body lead to people treating you differently and imagine that just because you're 70 you lack the need for partnership, for closeness and in the end, for happiness. As soon as we come to accept that age is inevitable but NOT fun, we get to understand the people who chose to act on it.

    I believe a balanced life, sport and good diet helps a lot in making you feel and look younger. But if some "adjustment" with surgery can enhance that...why not? In the end, all it matters is the standard of living, not the length of life. So let the people do everything they can to live happy and content, as long as they have. I wouldn't want to be refused surgery for saggy belly now, in my 20s, if that makes me feel better about myself. Why would I suggest that to someone else, just because they are a bit older?

    It is actually an immense luck that these people have the vitality and energy to worry about beauty treatments and do not lay in some older people's house waiting to die.
    If we are going to live longer, than let's accept that we like to live BETTER for longer. No matter how we define "better."

    ps: and yes, I wouldn't mind if my grandmother would like to have an op for beauty reason. I'd rather have her worry about implants than about life threatening diseases!

  90. This article doesn't belong in Science Times but in the fluffy Styles Section. There is no real "science" in it. Instead, it is all about feeling good, looking good,and attracting others. And more important, money, money, and more money for plastic surgeons. Or is this article only about a minority of old narcissists with money to burn? Anesthesia is dangerous at any age, but especially for older people where one side effect can be serious cognitive impairment. There are no studies - that's what the article says, and that's what it should focus on. What kind of screening should be done? What are the risks? The Golden Years, rendered Incomprehensible by Elective Surgery?

  91. I wish our society would be more accepting of beautiful bodies and faces at any age. Not that there's anything wrong with older women and men looking their finest, but to go under the knife to achieve the body of a "young" person (i.e. 60)? Give me Diana Nyad (age 61, swimming from Cuba to Key West) any day. She's happy and comfortable in her body. I wish more older adults could feel that way too.

  92. While I hardly begrudge these men and women their happiness, I'd like to mention two things.

    One, there is really nothing you can do for hands, and unless you wear gloves constantly, you will give away your age every time.

    Two, to paraphrase the late, wonderful Peg Bracken, plastic surgery after a certain age is kind of like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  93. Geezers? Breasts tucked into waistbands? Good grief, doesn't the Times edit for ageism at all? Granted, the words appear in quotation marks, but in other contexts (reporting on health or social issues related to other classes of bias victims, ethnic, religious, racial, etc.) your sources simply are not quoted when their language is offensive.The tone of this article alone is sufficient reason for older people to schedule some plastic ASAP!

  94. This kind of waste of fine medical skills and monetary resources in a nation where medical care is unavailable to so many, and so very many go hungry. Where are your values, people?

  95. I worked in a nursing home for a summer and can attest that sagging skin is not just a cosmetic issue, but also a health issue. Skin that is in contact with other skin can develop chronic rashes and infections that are uncomfortable, as well as embarrassing to the patient, and that require additional patient care. That alone is reason enough to justify surgery for those whose risk of complications is low.

  96. Society changed its prejudicical attitudes before, so they will change their attitudes against age too. It is sad to lose your health and that is sad for the old. But their mental state is just as important, and if society tells them this is inevitable, it does not help their health. How much better could less healthy elders feel if society dropped their prejudices? If you are healthy, why should you not try to look your best? Improving yourself should not be negative. In ageism, they are denied job, educational opportunties, discriminated against socially. They have to swim 109 miles against the wind to prove themselves. Younger people don't have to prove they are healthy. The psychological effect of that fear of age, fear of everything is as old as King Lear, who was after all pretty healthy but gave up his kingdom too soon. I am just saying it makes no sense to be forced to stop if you don't feel like it.

  97. Gotta love that last comment - gotta look good for these old geezers! Nice. I guess I'll cancel my
    surgery as that lady doesn't mind my "geezer" look! Maybe a double standard operating here? Do
    all I need is my Diners Club card do get a date with one of these reconstructed hotties?! Whoowee! Hey day for us wrinkly old geezers!

  98. Good for all of you ladies who want to look and feel their best!! All these naysayers are probably fat/old/ugly/lazy and have never really cared about their appearance anyway.

  99. So many people are saying, "If it makes them happy, why not?" Here's why not: I'm 52. I'm thin and fit, but my breasts sag and are full of fatty tissue. No matter how much I exercise (including a brisk 4 mile walk every morning and a daily routine of abs exercises and weight-lifting), I can't get my stomach to be flat the way it was when I was in my 40s. I am aging "naturally"--I don't color my hair, or even wear makeup, and I think I look fine that way. But you know what? I hate my body on an almost daily basis. Everywhere around me I see young women with flat stomachs and perky breasts, or older women who, either by the grace of nature or, more likely, the wonders of surgery, have those things, too. I feel a lot of pressure to look like that, but I'm not willing to have surgery to get there. I would prefer to live in a culture where it is understood that people get older, their bodies change, and there is beauty in that, too, but I don't. Nor do I have the ability to be unaffected by the culture in which I do live. So when I hear, "If it makes them happy, why not?" I think, because it makes me unhappy. Selfish? Maybe, but I know a lot of other women like me--active, healthy, productive, aging women, who hate what they see in the mirror.

  100. I assume that all you folks who say this is "shallow" have given all your money to charity and spend all your time benefitting humanity.

    If, on the other hand, you spend your money on silly stuff that makes you happy -- like your cable bill and a car that's much nicer than the econobox that would get you around just as effectively -- look in the mirror before criticizing others.

    As for the health concerns, this is almost a parody of a story, where everything has to be somehow disturbing or worrying somehow. It's an interesting trend, if it really is that much of a trend, but that doesn't mean it has to "raise fresh concerns," as nearly everything reported outside the style section here seems to. It doesn't have to be potentially bad to be news.

  101. More proof of a narcissistic society running wild.

  102. It's conceivable that plastic surgery actually poses more dangers to young people because they have more years ahead of them to experience the inevitable decay in which these procedures result. Plastic surgery obviously enables a lot of people to feel better about their appearance, and that is a positive. The inherent illusion of an artificially created appearance, however, can never really satisfy the age-old quest for the fountain of youth. If you can accept who you are and how you look, no matter how old you are, you are likely to happier than anyone who opts for plastic surgery, no matter how good the results.

  103. What we need to do is respect more, the wisdom of old age instead of the constant media attempts to portray them merely as unproductive oldsters dancing in the pool at the retirement center.

  104. I'll be honest. At 60, if I had the money, I would get some "work" done -- procedures that would be considered minimal and something I have always desired (scar removal) and it would have nothing to do with making anyone proud. I would do it to make my own self happy. I also would not tell anyone. Many of the commnents here seem to be made by people who are not wrinkly and saggy, experiencing the loss of their femininity or masculinity and also speaking on behalf of older relatives. As if they would actually honor an elder's request to not dress a certain way or to not live a certain lifestyle. Would anyone suggest that old men not take Viagra, despite its side effects? Would anyone suggest that an older woman not get laser hair removal? Maybe it is semantics or a generational expression, but if I should find myself single in my "twilight" years, I certainly do not want a "geezer".

  105. First of all, the body ages. Deal with it. It's all just lipstick on a pig, no matter how artfully applied.

    More importantly, it is hideous that people can waste their money on this when there are so many wanting. This is the biggest argument for more taxes. Up their taxes and bingo, medicare for all.

  106. Supercilious, patronizing, holier-than-thou! All adjectives which were very aptly used in these comments to describe the reaction of so many to this article! What right does anyone have to criticize the choices of another human being, to demean them for choosing differently from the oh-so-self-righteous who would have us believe they wear sackcloth and ashes and give all their money to charity? These same people, I am sure, rail against all sorts of -isms but somehow find their inner intolerant when it comes to older people wanting to look their best, and resort to the ugliest of ageism-speak. And if anyone still reads Shakespeare, "methinks they doth protest too much!"

  107. In this personal matter, why must there only be one "correct" attitude? Choice is good.

    Cheers to those who choose to age naturally, and cheers to those who choose a more technological approach. (And, surely we can all choose to share our resources to help others.)

    The path taken is only sad if taken in the belief that it is the only one course of action that will promote the goodwill of others.

  108. This article reeks not only of age stereotypes but also of stereotypes about how older women live their lives. Not every older woman builds her life around children and grandchildren or fills her days with activities at senior centers. Many women over 65 are highly educated, have had or still have successful careers, and spend much of their retirement pursuing activities they didn't have time for during their careers. They are physically (and sexually) active, take art and culinary classes, they travel, and many don't think about age much at all. Some are married to younger men. They do not simply stop living their lives the day after they retire or when the 65th birthday has passed. The jokes and serious comments about the country going broke due to Medicare and Social Security taking care of a population regarded as having lived their lives and should somehow disappear are based on ignorance of how age is experienced by many, many people, and although I am not a fan of plastic surgery, basically it's no one's business since it's elective surgery and not paid for by taxpayers. The "concerns" of researchers over this issue are appalling and paternalistic--isn't their something better to research to truly help humanity?

  109. Face it(yes that is a pun)people judge us on our looks and age. This is not just men but women and children too. Recent lunch get together with women of age, one woman said, "It is risky when you go out in Memphis as an older person, your gray hair makes you a target." Attacks in parking lots and driveways support her statement but I prefer not to live in fear. I am a business woman and aside from being targeted because of age, youth has more credibility than age in all walks. We revere youth in this country. The only older people who are valued for age are those who become judges. In other countries people are given respect for their experience, age and wisdom, if due.
    As long as we must compete in the world we have, we have to do what we can to look like we are competitive and not headed for a rocking chair. Both men and women need to stay fit, active and learning. If having plastic surgery helps us feel better about ourselves and when combined with other efforts to remain in competition with younger people, then so be it!
    On the romantic side, men are all looking for women half their age to make them feel younger. If I want a man my age, I am competing with women that are 20-30 years younger. In the end it is not what gets a romantic partner but what keeps him or her. People that care about themselves and how they look have a better chance of appealing to others, not just in looks but in outlook in life, activity. Making friends and being socially active is what counts in searching for relationships. The friendship needs to be first.
    Looks, artificially enhanced or not, are just playing cards in the game of life.

  110. Agism, indeed! What's wrong with looking your age, whatever it is? Why has American society decided what one should look at any any age? Having bras advertised for 4 year olds? No different, really. I intend to look like "myself", no lifts, implants, hair dye. I am who I am, at the age that I am. If people turn away from me for that reason, how shallow is that?

  111. California girls to the creepy end

  112. One side benefit I've not seen considered - elective plastic surgery allows for plastic surgeons with more experience - This was experience I was extremely grateful for when my 6 year-old daughter needed plastic surgery after being mauled by a dog.

    Before her accident, I had not thought much about plastic surgery, but afterwords, I found myself grateful for all the experience the surgeon had doing elective procedures.

  113. I am 70 and had a face, neck and eye lift 6 years ago. I still look 20 years younger than my age because I have great skin and even though it was a very, very painful and discomforting process for at least a year (what with the nerves taking that long to reconnect in my face) it was well worth it for me personally as I age. While I have been single for 34 years, as I age, I want to look as attractive as I can for myself and I love that I did it years ago before there was a drastic noticeable difference. I have girlfriends who have had two and three facelifts. As far as my body is concerned, I have friends who tell me to buy a loose top and relax, but I need to take care of myself so I walk daily on the beach (walking across deep sand does wonders for your legs) and exercise with free weights and situps. It takes work to keep your body decent and while I don't like my sagging knees, I have had three knee replacement surgeries 10 years ago and am just thrilled that I can still walk. Getting old is physically as well as psychologically difficult and I don't judge anyone's attempts to feel better. As far as attracting a man, by this age you should have learned enough about men to realize that old age is enough of a burden without adding taking care of an old man to it.

  114. Nauseating really. There are children, human babies, slowly (or quickly) starving to death right now, and these people are obsessed with their bosom going south. Truly perverted.

  115. Those of you commenting about how you believe the woman could have better used her money should mind your own business. Cosmetic surgery is not paid for by insurance thus it was her money whereby she can elect to spend it as she sees fit. The lady appears to have taken great care of herself over the years; why stop now when she might still have another 20 years left. Be glad she is not spending it on cigarettes, booze, and lottery tickets.

  116. Who pays the price when these risky procedures goes awry?

    Medicare is your likely victim.

  117. Coco Chanel. Georgia O'Keefe. Louise Nevelson. Martha Graham. Ruth Gordon (yes, love her).

    These are the faces, the beauty, the lives--the looks--of aging I strive for. And respect.

  118. It's their body, it's their money, they should be able to spend it any way they like. Last I knew, neither medicare, nor private insurers pay for plastic surgery. So, why not? Some take a cruise, some get new boobs. Nobody should tell anybody how to live their lives, least of all if it doesn't harm anybody else.

  119. We are constantly reminded, that we, in the Western world, do not tolerate and would not tolerate any threat to our secularism and, most importantly, any loss of our human identity and rights as women.
    I beg to differ. The article in today's NYT, "The Golden Years, Polished with Surgery," relegates me to the status of a mere “attribute.” It transforms me, from being a 67 years old healthy woman to a patient in need of overcoming what is absolutely a natural process, that is, getting older. My wrinkled "condition," my saggy eyelids, my falling breasts, or whatever I am getting for the reward of being healthy and alive, turns into something I have to suppress. Actually, to be "accepted," I have to consult a "doctor" to erase what I am, a woman with a history which is expressed in all and each of my wrinkles and body. In our society, to be ourselves is a “defect” in need of correction. I am openly degraded by these women in search of "correction" (and the blind acceptance of the medical aesthetic industry taking advantage of them). This loss of our identity in the West has become so “natural” that all the major newspapers in their “Fashion” sections, inform us in a totally “natural” manner of all the “procedures” available to us (to overcome our personal histories,) including their pros and cons, their prices, how long they last, their side effects, what plastic surgeons think about which is the best procedure for us, etc., etc. If you use the word “mutilation,” it is immediately associated with barbaric customs such as “clitoral mutilation.” However, the use of “injectable toxins,” “face lift surgery,” “lip injections,” “eyelid surgery,” "breast lifts" etc., are also self-imposed mutilations—all of them are disfiguring procedures which metamorphose us into expressionless human beings. Besides, “cosmetic” procedures are highly dangerous for any age and, in fact, have caused, the ultimate expressionless stage, that is, the death of the “patient.” I wonder when voices will be heard denouncing the physical mutilations we subject ourselves to become “parentheses”; when we will be able to have a history, to get older; when it will no longer be a “stigma” to have wrinkles instead of a blank and expressionless face. I wonder when we will receive the respect and the sense of fulfillment of getting older “naturally.”

  120. So, will Marie Kolstad's grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and network of friends like her better now that she's had a boob-job?

  121. Plastic surgery is a decision between a patient and a surgeon. Many of these comments reveal agism and/or sexism and are outrageous. Some of you who are accusing others are demonstrating your intolerance by your very comments. I am astonished by the level of hostility being expressed.

    Go home and thank whatever/whoever you pray to that you have the option to read the NYTimes because others are not so fortunate.

  122. We are more vital and brain active and energetic now. I am in my 70s and I expected to have died already. I remember being taken as a child to see a relative who was 80. He was this frail white old man with a bump on his head who could hardly sit up. Now I have friends and relatives who are older and they drive everywhere, baby sit their grandchildren and are much younger looking. I have one friend who is 51 and when I met him I thought he was 32.
    So if something needs elevated in the looks department, why not? Technologically we have entered the 21st century brilliantly. Too bad our political structure has regressed to the 1840s.

  123. Most plastic surgery is very apparent... it says to an observer.. "I stretched my face or neck and now I don't have wrinkles". What these persons don't know is that they do look weird. It's easy to see when people have had work done. I am happy for people who age gracefully. They let their hair go white, use less makeup and wear appropriate but stylish clothes.I don't want to be judgmental but plastic surgery makes older people look "plastic".

  124. My mom had a facelift at fiftyish and a neck lift at eighty-nine. Now the latter was, in my view, malpractice, but she lived to tell the tale and it made her happy to have had that moment of vanity. A big OY VEY.