Age and surgical recovery

Author: Dr Tony Williams, Consultant Occupational Physician, Working Fit Ltd.

Date: August 2015.

Many clinicians assume that age affects recovery time.  This is not supported by evidence.  Longer recovery times reflect co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes that are more prevalent with age.

Healthy young volunteers (18-55 years of age) and elderly volunteers (>65 years of age) had a wound created on the anterior thigh, and the rate of epithelialization was assessed.  The elderley volunteers had a delay of 1.9 days in epithelialization (Holt et al., 1992).


  • HOLT, D. R., KIRK, S. J., REGAN, M. C., HURSON, M., LINDBLAD, W. J. & BARBUL, A. 1992. Effect of age on wound healing in healthy human beings. Surgery, 112, 293-7; discussion 297-8.