Granny's boob job shows rise of plastic surgery in seniors

Perspective of a patient on a operating table who sees the doctor above him with a scalpel in his hand. Focus only on the scalpel.

(CBS) Are octogenarians too old for plastic surgery? Marie Kolstad doesn't think so. On July 22, she had her breasts lifted and got implants - at the age of 83.

"Physically, I'm in good health, and I just feel like, why not take advantage of it?" Kolstad, a great-grandmother of 13 who lives in Orange County, Calif., told the New York Times. "My mother lived a long time, and I'm just taking it for granted that that will happen to me. And I want my children to be proud of what I look like."

Kolstad isn't the only older person to have sought the services of a cosmetic surgeon. Breast lifts, face-lifts, liposuction, and other cosmetic surgery procedures are increasingly common among seniors, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

In 2010, 84,685 Americans age 65 or older had cosmetic surgery, according to the society. That's a 21-percent increase from 2009, when 69,685 older Americans had cosmetic surgery. The most common procedures among seniors are facelift, blepharoplaty (eyelid surgery), liposuction, breast reduction, and breast lift.

What explains the increase?

Dr. Alan Gold, a plastic surgeon in Great Neck, N.Y., puts it down to demographics. He told CBS New that seniors are staying healthier longer, with growing numbers not seriously affected by heart disease, lung disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, and the other ailments that traditionally have stood between seniors and the scalpel.

So surgery in seniors is more common - but is it safe?

Dr. Gold said cosmetic surgery presents no special problems in healthy older people, adding that he required his patients over the age of 50 to get a medical clearance from their doctors before performing surgery. He said seniors should be aware that they might take a bit longer than a younger patient to heal and cautioned seniors to be "absolutely honest in giving their history to the plastic surgeon. This is not like getting your hair done, and there are potential risks and complications."

But having realistic expectations about cosmetic surgery is also important. Said Dr. Gold, "This is not going to make you 20 again."