Is there an age after which a plastic surgeon should not operate?

I have found a lovely experienced oculoplastic surgeon to perform blepharoplasty but am a little concerned as he is in his seventies and work around the eye is so delicate.

Doctor Answers 12

Surgeon age

Surgeons in their 70's have vast experience and are usually able to still operate because they are really good. IF you like him and his recent pre and post op photos are good you are likely in good hands and maybe better than average due to experience. Good luck.

Older age shouldn't be a determining factor in choosing an eyelid surgeon - there are ways to tell how good they still are

Thank you for your question. I understand you’re planning on having a blepharoplasty done, but you’re concerned the doctor you met with may be too old to perform the procedure. You’d like to know if there is an age after which plastic surgeons should not operate.
I can give you some assurance on this matter. To give you a little about my background — I’m a Board-certified cosmetic surgeon and a Fellowship-trained oculoplastic and oculofacial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, practicing in Manhattan and Long Island for over 20 years. I specialize in and perform delicate eyelid surgery every day in my practice.
You’re certainly asking a relevant question, however, I don’t think age is a limiting factor when it comes to make this type of decision. There are many doctors in various fields — cosmetic surgery, general surgery, otolaryngology, dentistry, etc. — who are well into their 70s and are still very good at what they do. Though admittedly, there are going to be the occasional doctors who still operate even though their skills are not where they should be or where they once were.
Ultimately, I think that doctors who are ethical and who are real masters of their craft will know when it’s time to make the decision to stop operating. Sometimes, it’s not even about age - some doctors just feel they don’t want to do certain procedures because of the physical stress and time that it takes to do them. At the end of the day, I think that if the doctor is still practicing, is comfortable with their skills, and if you are comfortable with them and what they can do, then it shouldn’t be a concern. If you should see any signs that the doctor is not going to be able to do the operation the way you like, then of course, you have the option of going to another doctor.
I think it would also be of benefit to talk to the office staff. Often, you’ll be able to tell if they feel the doctor is very confident and comfortable with what he does. In my practice, I’ve operated on many of my office staff for various reasons, and not just once but several times over the years. This goes the same even for new employees. Sometimes, I also do procedures on their family members as well. I think that if the staff is very comfortable to the point that they’ll recommend their own family members, it’s a real vote of confidence. It’s also very meaningful for me that my staff have that level of confidence in me and want me to be their doctor for themselves and their family members.
Try to talk to the doctor’s staff, and if you observe their reaction to be unquestionable, then I don’t think you have to worry too much about it. Keep in mind there is a significant group of people who still are very healthy, very strong, very sharp and very inspired to keep working in their chosen profession, so I don’t think you have to be concerned based on the age alone.
I hope that was helpful and I wish you the best of luck!

Amiya Prasad, MD
New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Surgeon Age

There actually is some information in the literature about this. While our skills DO start to deteriorate a bit with time, our judgment makes up for it -- for a while. And then there is the individual variation in it. If recent reviews/recommendation/results are good and he/she is still operating regularly I would say do it! The famous heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey operated into his early 90s and Dr. Ralph Millard - world famous plastic surgeon - into his 80s and mainly stopped for family reasons.

Robert H. Hunsaker, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 71 reviews

Age

cara3, always choose experience as long as their mind is sound, the hands don't shake and they can see well! Grey hair in general is a blessing for a surgeon. good luck!

M. Sean Freeman, MD
Charlotte Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Surgeon and age

I know plenty of surgeons in their 70's that are excellent, and that I would allow to operate on me.  I know of a few that worked in their 80's!

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Surgeon age

There are some surgeons who operate past the point they should. However, there are far, far more good experienced surgeons turning out excellent work well into their 70's. It sounds like you found a good one.

Tracy E. McCall, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Age

I would actually be afraid of the surgeon with not enough experience and would be more apt to trust the older more experienced person. It varies of course, but do not let the surgeon's older age dissuade you. Hope this helps. 

Leland Deane, MD
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

You are much better off with a very experienced surgeon.

I operate at UCLA and there are many surgeons actively operating well into their seventies.  I would have no hesitation trusting these surgeons.  Age itself is not an issue and may be an advantage over a new to practice surgeon who is still figuring thing out.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Los Angeles Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Eyelid surgeon

 More important than age of the surgeon is the experience that can  he/she can bring to the table. Look at the photo gallery from  your perspective surgeon to get an idea of the caliber of work being performed.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 129 reviews

Should there be an age "cut-off" for plastic surgeons?

Age alone should not be the defining endpoint of a surgeon's career. Many great surgeons practice into their 90's and bring tremendous skill, experience and judgment to the operating table. Michael DeBakey, a world-renowned cardiac surgeon practiced until the day he died. He was also one of the oldest patients - at 97 - to undergo aortic surgery that he devised himself. He died at 99, 2 months short of his 100th birthday after a life-time of dedication to patient care and education. Your surgeon has apparently had many years of experience in oculoplastic surgery - very delicate work indeed! He or she is acutely aware of potential adverse effects as well as how to treat clinical problems that may arise. If your impression was positive, your consultation was informative, and your questions were answered to your satisfaction, you are likely in excellent hands. Best wishes with your decision.

Sara A. Kaltreider, MD
Charlottesville Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.