More Elderly Seeking Cosmetic Surgery

"If I could be convinced that someone was indeed one of these exceptions, I would still be reluctant to do six hours worth of surgery," said Dr. Grant S. Gillman, who heads the facial plastic and reconstructive surgery division at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Certainly it would be more prudent to stage things in that age group."

Gillman also says that older patients take longer to heal, and often have lesser results, because older skin lacks the elasticity needed to bounce back from surgery quickly. He also said older people often have other conditions that may have an adverse impact on their healing.

Dr. Julius Few of Northwestern University's medical school said that prior to undergoing surgery, elderly patients like Porter should have a "thorough evaluation by her medical doctor, with appropriate test to evaluate the heart and other major systems."

Nevertheless, limits based strictly on age should be avoided, and there might even be a plus for older folks, he said.

"There is experimental evidence that suggest that older individuals are less likely to form hypertrophic [prominent] scars," Few said.

Older Men Get Face-Lifts, Too

It's not just older women who are taking the cosmetic surgery plunge.

Fred Watson, 65, had his eyes and face lifted because he felt that his age shouldn't prevent him from feeling good about the way he looks.

"I know, realistically, I may only have a few more years left on this earth, so I try to take care of not only my face, but also my body," Watson said. "I exercise, eat right, I eat my veggies."

Cosmetic surgery for older people may also signify a shift in how people regard old age, Porter's surgeon said.

"What is really means is that we're reinterpreting what it means to get older," Sevinor said. "Older is becoming better."

Porter is still recovering from her surgery. The recovery is expected to take anywhere from six months to one year.

Her husband says he supported her decision to have the surgery. "It took a while to heal, but I would love her even if she didn't do it," Charlie Porter said.

She did take some flak from pals in her knitting circle, though.

"I don't understand why she had to get the surgery," said her friend Althea, who is also 80. "I don't remember seeing any wrinkles."

Porter says she loves the way it turned out, and she wants to always look the way she does now. She feels she has a new lease on life, and a renewed passion for living it.

"I think people are saying that people 80 years old should be picking out their cemetery lot, should be thinking about how many pills they're taking," Porter said. "I don't want to think about cemetery lots. I want to think about living."

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