Who Has the Most Risk of Scarring After Surgery? (Age-wise)

I asked a question about facelifts on young people previously, and some answered saying that younger clients scar worst than older clients. However, it would make more sense that an OLDER person would be at more risk of scarring. Therefore, wouldn't it make sense that the younger you are in getting a needed (mid) facelift, the better? 

Doctor Answers 24

Facelift scars

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Most facelift scars heal quite nicely regardless of age. Individual scarring tendencies as well as the skill of the surgeon are more important factors in how your scars will heal. Facelift scars typically heal very nicely regardless of age. Proper placement of incisions are also a very important factor in obtaining scars that will be ideal.

Scarring Risk for Surgical Patients

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Age, in general, has very little to do with the risk of abnormal or hypertrophic scarring.

Genetic background can create the most difference between patients regarding abnormal scarring (meaning is their skin type prone for "over-zealous" scar formation).


The area of the body in which the scar is placed is also an important factor.  Chest, back, shoulders and other areas of the body where the skin is thick makes visible scarring more probable. 


Incisions around the eyes and nose heal extremely well in almost everyone.



Lee Robinson, MD - RETIRED
Portland Facial Plastic Surgeon

Scarring after surgery

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All higher organisms (that would be you!) heal wounds and incisions with scarring.   This is in contrast to some life forms healing with regeneration (starfish come to mind).

In general, older patients scar less than younger patients.  I'm not sure why, but I'm sure it has to do with inflammation, collagen formation, etc.  Older patients make us look really good in the scar department.  Their scars fade and flatten out quickly and we can often find a wrinkle to hide the scar in.

It's the younger patients with flawless skin that always make me the most nervous.

And with all patients - it's patient biology that dictates the healing more than their surgeon does. 

Age and Scarring after Facelift Surgery

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If you want, need, and would benefit from facelift surgery do it regardless of your age. There are many factors that influence scarring after trauma or surgery, but age does not make a significant difference except in very young children when scarring can be problematic.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Facelift scarring

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Scarring after a facelift results from several different factors.  Younger patients have a more intense healing process that can lead to more scarring than older people.  Excess tension on the closure can lead to separation of the incisions and widen the scars.  Certain racial groups are prone to greater scarring.  The use of slowly absorbing sutures can help minimize scarring.  The optimal age for a facelift is determined by the patient and the physician.

Best of Luck,

Gary Horndeski, M.D.

Scarring risk after facelift

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In general facelift incisions heal very well in anyone when the wound is closued properly and without excess tension. as others have mentioned in some very young patients there may be excess incision scarring, but this is more relavent with children/teenagers rather than someone who's a facelift candidate.

I think the take home message is that your age shouldn't be a concern as it relates to your risk for poor incision healing after surgery.

Risks of Scarring - Age Wise - after Surgery

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As a general rule older people tend to make better scars and younger people have a tendency to make thicker or more noticeable scars. This is especially true in children. This sounds counterintuitive but if you think of it as younger people just having a more vigorous wound healing process, so much so that the collagen they produce healing a wound can almost go beyond what is necessary, and result in a more visible scar.

None of this is really important though when it comes to facelifts. Children don't have facelifts and so it isn't an issue if they tend to make more visible scars. By the time you reach the age where it is reasonable to consider a facelift, your wound healing processes will have slowed down enough so that you should not make poor scars as long as the incisions are appropriately placed and carefully closed under minimal tension.

The best timing for a facelift procedure has much more to do with how noticeable the aging changes are and how soon you want to undergoe a significant surgical procedure to correct them. Some individuals get there sooner than others.

Who Has the Most Risk of Scarring After Surgery? (Age-wise)

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 I'm not sure who said "younger patients are more prone to scarring" as I completely disagree with that statement.  For Face Lifts, I don't believe age has any factor in how well the incision heals.  It's more influenced by how tightly the incision is closed, if it's closed in multiple layers and what's used to close the incision.  

Facelift scarring in the young and the elderly.

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Facelift scarring in the young and the elderly is a moot point. For 35 years I have done facelifts on younger and older patients and have not had scarring issues in either group. Some Asians I have found make a thicker scar.

Toby Mayer, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

There are a reliable group of generalities regarding scarring

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All things being equal in an injury or incision:

  • Younger patients scar more than older
  • The darker the patients, the more likely the scar is going to become thick
  • The more tension placed on the areas - the more likely it is to scar
  • Patients who have developed dense scars or keloids elsewhere are likely to heal in the same fashion again
  • Patients who have healed a prior similar area well are even more likely to do well once again with the same incisions.
  • If an incision has hair on both sides it is very unlikely to scar unless there is tremendous tension place on the closure.

Dr. Mayl


Nathan Mayl, MD (retired)
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon

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.