With proper patient selection, abdominoplasty can be safely performed in patients 60 years and older, according to a study in Aesthetic Surgery Journal that compared the safety and complication rates of the procedure in a younger patient cohort to an older population group.

“Recent studies suggest that age may independently increase the risk of complications following abdominoplasty,” says co-author James Zins, M.D., a plastic surgeon and chair of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Foundation. “However, these studies lack comprehensive information about the procedure.”

Given that older individuals are seeking cosmetic surgery in growing numbers, and that abdominoplasty carries a greater risk than other cosmetic procedures, “we felt this topic deserved further evaluation,” Dr. Zins tells The Aesthetic Channel.

This is not the first time that the Clinic’s plastic surgery department has assessed the safety of a cosmetic procedure in the elderly. “We previously published a study that demonstrated that with proper selection, patients 65 years and older could undergo facelift surgery, with a risk similar to that of a younger patient population,” Dr. Zins says.

The current study retrospectively reviewed abdominoplasty performed between 2010 and 2015. The 129 patients were divided into two groups: 59 years of age and younger (n = 86) or at least 60 years old (n = 43).

“We examined major, minor, local and systemic complications occurring before and after 30 days of surgery,” Dr. Zins says. “The main findings of our study were that with careful patient selection, abdominoplasty can be safely performed on older age patients, with a complication rate that approaches the younger age population.”

The study found there were no meaningful differences in the occurrence of major local/systemic and minor local/systemic complications in the two age groups.