Life Stage Philosophy for Women

Think “Age Maintenance” — Not “Extreme Makeover”
Incremental treatments and procedures can help you maintain your best look over time

By Robert T. Grant, MD, MSc, FACS

“Age-maintenance,” unlike an “anti-aging” approach, means that you’re caring for your appearance over time, typically utilizing techniques that are less invasive, not too pricey and easier to recover from quickly.

By contrast, those who don’t pay attention to age maintenance look unnatural when they try to play catch-up and have more extensive “anti-aging” procedures done all at once later in life.

We’ve all seen examples of this: The operations may be a technical success, but the results are so obvious a change that the patient becomes a walking advertisement for excessive or overzealous plastic surgery.

Of course, many women prefer to wait as long as possible before undertaking any plastic surgical procedure. This may be the right decision in any given case, but it’s a decision that should be made in the context of understanding a major biological reality that significantly affects not only the aging process, but how plastic surgery can best work in the context of that process: perimenopause and the impact of menopause.

Let’s look at skin as a specific example of why age maintenance through the years can be preferable to more significant surgical procedures later on.

Female sex hormones are responsible for much of what is thought to be attractive about skin and its youthful appearance — smoothness, texture and elasticity. The changes brought about by menopause affect a woman’s hormone levels and, consequently, can affect the way her skin looks.

When those hormone levels start to decline, the skin’s youthful appearance begins to change. That’s why a woman in her 40s typically begins to see the changes associated with aging start to accelerate.

When a woman waits until later in life to have plastic surgical procedures, the skin isn’t as resilient as it once was. Because of this, the aesthetic results of the surgery may not last as long. In addition, she may require more nipping and tucking than if the same procedure was done when she had a higher level of circulating female hormones.

To summarize: A series of incremental treatments and procedures begun today can help you maintain your best look over time. Waiting until your late-50s and into your 60s can result in costlier procedures that deliver an aesthetic result you may not find as appealing as if you had started on age maintenance procedures when you were younger.

The good news is that you have plenty of options, so don’t hesitate to get advice from a board-certified plastic surgeon. Your doctor will partner with you to choose the most appropriate course of action that will help you look and feel your best — at any age.