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Breast Augmentation Recovery:

Do older patients heal more slowly than younger patients?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), breast augmentation (“augmentation mammaplasty”) has been the top cosmetic surgical procedure in the country since 2006. And these days, it isn’t just 18 year-olds getting breast implants as a high school graduation gift. Middle-aged women, as well as those approaching senior citizen status, are visiting plastic surgeons for consultations regarding their options on how to enhance their shape.

Dr. Ronald M. Friedman, a Frisco breast augmentation specialist, meets with prospective patients, ranging from their late teens to their early 60’s. Although he has not noticed a huge increase in older patients choosing to undergo cosmetic surgery, he has noticed that there is a shift in the trends regarding procedures. In the past, the focus was predominantly on the face and attaining a more youthful-looking appearance through such procedures as facelift surgery and eyelid lift surgery. Dr. Friedman realizes that now, women are interested in enhancing their overall appearance. This may include the desire to undergo augmentation with saline or silicone gel breast implants. Typically, those who are 50+ and interested in enlargement surgery are not new to this procedure; it is more than likely that they are going in for a secondary procedure – opting for an implant exchange due to sizing or changing the type of implant they have, require correction of a complication, or having a breast lift performed. According to Dr. Friedman, there are also women who have come out of life-changing experiences (i.e., divorce, death of a spouse) and would like a makeover, which may then influence their decision to undergo breast enlargement surgery for the first time.

The biggest concern among plastic surgery critics revolves around age, asking if older Americans are able to safely undergo and emerge from a procedure such as breast augmentation. There is also a concern regarding recovery, and whether or not older patients heal more slowly than younger patients. According to Dr. Friedman, there is no major difference. In order to qualify for plastic surgery, an individual must be physically and psychologically healthy, have realistic goals and expectations, and have reasonably good skin elasticity. For prospective patients over 50 years-old, the pre-operative work-up plays a decisive role in whether or not they are able to go forward with an operation. “We need to have them undergo an EKG and do the necessary blood work. If there are any major medical concerns, we need to get clearance from their physicians,” says Dr. Friedman. Therefore, if an older woman qualifies for breast implants and is in good condition medically, the surgery will not pose a significantly greater risk as compared to a younger patient.

The timeframe regarding when a patient can return to work and daily activities is the same among all breast augmentation patients. In fact, Dr. Friedman points out that there are two areas where age has its advantages. The first is postoperative pain. Due to having experienced body changes that may have been painful, such as childbirth and medical surgeries, the pain threshold amongst those in their 40s, 50s, or 60s is usually higher than that of an 18 year old. Dr. Friedman also notes that his older patients tend to heal with less scarring. He states, “As we age, we form less of an inflammatory response to trauma, including surgery. This translates to flatter, less conspicuous scars on average in older patients.”

Women who would like to schedule an initial breast augmentation consultation with Dr. Friedman at his Frisco/Plano practice may do so at their convenience. During this time, he can discuss mommy makeovers in older women, which he jokingly refers to as “cougar-fication” surgery. This entails a combination of breast and body contouring procedures designed to create a more youthful, beautiful appearance for the older female demographic.

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