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Germany

Cosmetic Surgery For People Who Are Just Plain Old

Silicone breasts at 80? No problem! In Europe and the U.S., the cosmetic industry is actively courting a new clientele: the bona fide 'elderly,' who have plenty of time and money to spend on face lifts and tummy tucks and a final pursui

Marie Dové

Normally, when plastic surgery gets media attention it's when a 12-year-old has a nose job, or a teenager gets breast implants. But the idea that the cosmetic industry is targeting a younger population is misleading. On the contrary: the industry's fight for new clients is taking place at the other end of the age spectrum. And not only that -- according to the latest figures, those opting for surgery are getting older and older, in the U.S. but also in Europe.

Meet 83-year-old Marie Kolstad of Orange County, California. This grandmother of 12, and great-grandmother of 13, made headlines recently for being possibly the oldest woman to receive breast implants. She certainly isn't shy when it comes to showing off her new cleavage to the tabloid press.

On the day she was operated on, one of Kolstad's daughters told her the operation would kill her. That didn't stop Kolstad from going ahead, something she certainly doesn't regret: she says life with her new $5,000 breasts is better than ever. She has been touring the TV talk show circuit, explaining that before the operation her "two girls' had lost volume but that they were now back in top shape.

Marie Kolstad's case may seem a little over the, er, top, but it nevertheless reflects the latest trend in plastic surgery. If traditional surgery patients in their 30s and 40s are trying to forestall aging, this new group aims to recover their youth. In the U.S., over-65s now account for 8% of the clientele at plastic surgery clinics. The American Society for Plastic Surgery's 2010 statistics indicate that nearly 700,000 operations were performed by plastic surgeons in the U.S. on patients over 65. Aging baby boomers clearly have the time and money to polish up their golden years.

Facelifts for her and tummy tucks for him

The same trend is also emerging in Europe. In Germany, for example, 7.4% of those who go under a plastic surgeon's knife are over 60, according to the German Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (DGÄPC). For women over 60 the most frequent operations are facelifts, surgery to tighten the skin around eyes, and wrinkle injections. Tummy tucks and eyelid surgery are the most prevalent among men.

On the German website www.senioren-ratgeber.de, one of the country's most renowned plastic surgeons, Count Joachim von Finckenstein, imparts the following information: "In principle, the health risks of plastic surgery to older patients are no greater than for younger patients." However, he cautions, the older the patient the longer it will take for post-operative wounds to heal. But surgery at an older age also has its advantages: "With facelifts it's better to be older because the scars are usually invisible."

Whether we share this optimism – or not – the fact remains that over the coming years plastic surgeons are going to see the number of older patients rise significantly thanks to baby boomers, which is to say those born between 1946 and 1964. These "new" seniors are like Marie Kolstad: for them, old age is not a hindrance, and their outlook on beauty and aging will be gladly supported by the plastic surgery industry.

A note concerning breast operations among older women: most do not choose the route taken by Kolstad, opting instead to have their "girls' -- which often become larger and heavier with age – made smaller.

Read the original article in German in Tages Anzeiger

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