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Summary: There are plenty of possibilities of aging gracefully–and no one should be constrained to a single set of those possibilities. In other words, “aging gracefully” is going to mean different things to different people. And that’s why we’re also talking about what plastic surgery could mean when we’re also having a conversation about aging gracefully. We’re used to think of those things as diametrically opposed, but maybe they aren’t.

On the Possibilities of Aging Gracefully

It’s about time we consider the possibilities of aging gracefully. To a certain extent, that’s a pretty loaded phrase–there’s so much we have to define about “aging” and about “grace.” And that’s even before we get into all of those tantalizing possibilities. You can see why I’ll be talking in very general terms here.

But I also want to explore this idea of aging gracefully within the contexts of plastic surgery. At first glance, aging gracefully would seem to be directly opposed with plastic or cosmetic surgery. My argument, however, is that they aren’t nearly so diametrically opposed as you might, at first, think.

Indeed, we’re going to look at some ways that “aging gracefully” can live side by side with undergoing plastic surgery or a cosmetic procedure. All while remembering that it’s also entirely possible to age gracefully without the need for any kind of surgery or procedure. As with beauty, much is in the eye of the beholder. And that’s actually how it should be, we think. After all, you’re the one that’s doing the aging!

Does Plastic Surgery Reverse Aging?

Plastic surgery is not designed purely as an instrument of de-aging. Indeed, there are many aesthetic uses for plastic surgery that have almost nothing to do with the aging process. That said, it is quite common for patients to use plastic surgery as a way to minimize, hide, or erase the signs of aging.

It’s important to draw a distinction between aging and the signs of aging in this context. Here’s what we mean by that:

  • Even after a completely successful plastic surgery procedure, the aging process will continue. It will simply be reset by a number of years.
  • Plastic surgery can minimize or erase signs of aging such as lines, wrinkles, and excess skin. But it won’t change the underlying issues with your skin or, in most cases, how your body actually functions.
  • In other words, if you had aching joints before your plastic surgery, you’ll probably have aching joints after your plastic surgery.

That’s not to take anything away from the epic and bold transformations that plastic surgeons can accomplish. It’s simply a means of saying that the transformation isn’t going to actually de-age you. It will only combat the signs of aging, not the aging itself.

How Do You Age Gracefully?

Now that we’ve established that, we can talk about what aging gracefully actually looks like. Most people will look at that phrase and assume it means something along the lines of: embrace getting old.

And that’s kind of true. But it’s also not the whole story. Because the person who can embrace everything about the way he or she looks–at any age–is exceptionally rare. Most of us have a few things we’d like to get sorted.

And that’s why I think aging gracefully has acceptance than an embrace. In other words, I think aging gracefully has something to do with accepting the fact that you’ll never be young again. That can be true at any age, but it becomes especially important as you grow older. And in that way, I think it also becomes important to really embrace who you are as a person.

Let’s take an example (and this is really simplistic, but it’s just an example). Say you want to dye your hair purple. If you want to do that because it’s who you are, great! If you want to do that because you think it’ll make you into someone who is younger… well, you might want to rethink that. Then again, there’s no one that says you have to age gracefully. (Or even, really, that aging gracefully is a good thing… ultimately, that’s your call.)

Grace and Plastic Surgery

That’s part of the reason that I think plastic surgery still has a kind of place when it comes to aging gracefully. If you use a facelift to look wildly more youthful, you might be stretching the boundaries of believability. But if you use that same procedure to look moderately more youthful, people might just assume you started eating better or getting more sleep.

It’s a difference of degrees, sure, but it’s also about what’s believable and what’s not–it’s about what you’ve accepted and what you haven’t, I suppose. These are all very personal choices, and so it’s not exactly up to me to cast one behavior in a positive light and one in a negative. The point of a facelift is to make you happy, and not really to focus on anyone else. And that’s just the beginning of the possibilities of aging gracefully.


  • “What Does ‘Aging Gracefully’ Mean?” The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS),
  • Paul, Sheryl. “What Does It Mean To Age Gracefully?” Mindbodygreen, Mindbodygreen, 17 Jan. 2014,
  • “What Does ‘Aging Gracefully’ Mean?” The Huffington Post,, 2 Apr. 2013,

About the Author: Nick Engebretson has been contributing to Plastic Surgery Articles since its conception. He’s a marketer who has specialized in plastic and cosmetic surgery for over twenty years, so he knows the subject inside and out.

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