Self-improvement comes in many forms: healthy eating, exercising, learning something new, or changing a habit for example. Millions of Americans opt for another type of self-improvement in cosmetic surgery.
Going under the knife used to seem like a social stigma. But with more people willing to be open about the effects of aging and the procedures that they have used to reverse these effects, more people have felt comfortable scheduling a cosmetic procedure. Heather D. Rogers, a Seattle dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon, and founder of the skin care line Doctor Rogers RESTORE, sees many people—men as well as women—interested in fine tuning and tweaking.
What patients over 50 care about is “looking normal and natural,” she says, and they frequently cite Michelle Pfeiffer and Julia Roberts as examples of women who are aging gracefully (with a little help from a board-certified surgeon?).
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, folks 55 and older account for about a quarter of all cosmetic surgery procedures, but for some nips and tucks they make up at least half the folks going under the knife.
These eight surgeries and two less invasive treatments are the most popular for this age group. Most aren’t covered by your health insurance plan, so keep an eye on typical costs (not including anesthesia). Prices and typical recovery times are via the American Society of Plastic Surgeons).
Botox (Botulinum toxin)
- What it can do: Injections smooth crow’s feet, lines, and wrinkles on your face and neck, perk up your smile, and more
- 55+ procedures (2017): 1,659,482
- % of total Botox: 23%
- Average cost: $385
- Recovery time: Immediate
- Owning up: Nicole Kidman and Christie Brinkley are two celebrities who’ve admitted to using fillers like Botox. Rogers says she almost always suggests that older patients start with a neurotoxin like Botox or Dysport to open the eyes.
- What it can do: By removing outer layer of skin on face, neck, even hands, helps with fine lines, scars, sun damage, rough patches, and more
- 55+ procedures (2017): 592,610
- % of total chemical peels: 43%
- Average cost: $698
- Recovery time: A few days to two weeks
- Beauty before age: Chemical peels are also a favorite among younger generations, who are interested in eliminating acne scarring or discoloration from conditions like rosacea.
Eyelid Surgery (blepharoplasty)
- What it can do: Get rid of wrinkles, under-eye bags, droopy eyelids
- 55+ procedures (2017): 102,354
- % of total eyelid surgeries: 49%
- Average cost: $3,000
- Recovery time: Two weeks to a few months
- Insurance coverage: No, unless it’s needed to eliminate extra skin covering the eyelashes, depending on your plan
- Barbie IRL: This Instagram celebrity spent $4,000 on the surgery to make herself look more like doll-like.
- What it can do: Reduce those signs of aging on your face. When overdone, create cat look
- 55+ procedures (2017): 81,545
- % of total facelifts: 65%
- Average cost: $7,448
- Recovery time: Two weeks to three months
- Dr. 90210: The western United States—including Arizona, Nevada, and California—accounted for more facelift procedures in 2017 than any other region in the country, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
- What it can do: By scraping off layers of skin, can wipe out scars and smooth out wrinkles
- 55+ procedures (2017): 33,840
- % of total dermabrasions: 40%
- Average cost: $1,170
- Recovery time: A few days to a few weeks
- Take care: Last year actress Melanie Griffith posted on Instagram that she’d used dermabrasion as part of her treatment for skin cancer.
- What it can do: Get rid of the fat deposits all over your body: hips, thighs, arms, you name it
- 55+ procedures (2017): 25,252
- % of total liposuction: 10%
- Average cost: $3,374
- Recovery time: Several months
- Goal getters: Undergoing liposuction is apparently the most popular 2019 New Year’s resolution in North Dakota, according to search trends.
- What it can do: Reduces frown lines, forehead wrinkles, sagging eyebrows
- 55+ procedures (2017): 22,161
- % of total forehead lifts: 56%
- Average cost: $3,374
- Recovery time: 10 to 14 days
- Extreme relief: After plastic surgeons noticed that some migraine sufferers had fewer headaches after cosmetic forehead lifts, they developed a migraine surgery to relieve certain headache patterns.
Nose reshaping (rhinoplasty)
- What it can do: Give your nose a new shape and size, increase size of nostrils
- 55+ procedures (2017): 21,646
- % of total nose jobs: 10%
- Average cost: $5,125
- Recovery time: A few weeks for initial swelling, up to a year for full effect
- Insurance coverage: Maybe, if the rhinoplasty is done to improve breathing
- The Princess Nose Best: After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle became engaged in 2017, women around the world referenced the now-Duchess of Sussex’s nose when exploring rhinoplasty, according to one New York-based cosmetic surgeon.
Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)
- What it can do: Remove excess fat and skin, tighten muscles
- 55+ procedures (2017): 18,129
- % of total tummy tucks: 14%
- Average cost: $5,992
- Recovery time: One to two weeks
- Push present, part 2: Tummy tucks are sometimes paired with other procedures as part of a “mommy makeover” for women who want to revert back to their pre-baby body, sort of.
Breast lift (mastopexy)
- What it can do: Fight gravity
- 55+ procedures (2017): 16,691
- % of total breast lifts: 16%
- Average cost: $4,672
- Recovery time: A few months
- Hurray for Hollywood: For a less invasive alternative, some Beverly Hills doctors are exploring what they call a “vampire” breast lift, which uses a patient’s platelets and stem cells to stimulate growth.