Breast Implant Tips for Older Patients

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While breast implants were initially invented for the purpose of reconstructing deformed and mastectomized breasts, nowadays they are more commonly used for cosmetic breast augmentation surgery.

According to a 2012 survey released by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, women aged 55 years and older accounted for 2 percent of all elective breast augmentations performed in the US, or roughly 7,000 patients.

Women aged between 40 and 54, meanwhile, accounted for 29 percent of all breast augmentations during the same period, or about 83,500 patients.

Simply put, body contouring procedures—and not just facial rejuvenation surgeries—still appeal to “older” patients.

One’s chronological age is not a contraindication to most cosmetic surgeries. Nevertheless, it would be imprudent not to acknowledge that age-related medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular problem, arthritis, hypertension, and delayed wound healing do not exist.

Instead of the patients’ age, board-certified plastic surgeons give more importance to their health. And since visual appearance is not an accurate indicator of health status, we always require extensive physical exams, blood work, and “honest” discussion with our patients to determine their candidacy.

It is also not uncommon for cosmetic surgeons to ask “older” patients to get a medical clearance from their specialist or primary care physician prior to an elective surgery.

Aside from health status, surgeons also take into consideration the quality of skin and tissue of the breasts preoperatively. As a result, older patients occasionally require breast lift performed simultaneously with their breast augmentation to achieve the desired appearance.

As a good rule of thumb, smaller breast implants are the ideal option of these patients to prevent or at least reduce the risk of bottoming out or sagging. The goal is to use implant sizes/designs and surgical techniques that are within the confines of their breast anatomy.

Because aging affects the breast ligaments that support its shape, it cannot be dismissed that women aged 50 years and older face a greater risk to implant displacement such as bottoming out and excessive lateral shift, which of course leads to a less-than-optimal result. Nonetheless, there are ways to minimize the untoward effects of breast implants.

In addition to choosing smaller implants, other ways to reduce any of their untoward effect is to use tissue thickener (e.g., acellular dermal matrix, which is a soft tissue replacement) and to position the prostheses underneath the thick layer of pec muscle that can serve as an “internal” bra, thereby reducing palpability and rippling.
Article by
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon