Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty)
Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) is a plastic surgery procedure for correcting sagging or drooping eyelids. The eyelid, because its skin is much thinner than that in other parts of the face, is often one of the first areas of the face to exhibit signs of aging. Eyelids that sag or droop can affect peripheral vision, making daily activities such as driving more difficult. Blepharoplasty may become necessary when various factors, which include aging, sun damage, smoking and obesity, cause the muscles and tissue that support the eyelids to weaken.
Reasons for Blepharoplasty
Blepharoplasty tightens the eyelid's muscles and tissue, and removes excess fat and skin. Blepharoplasty eliminates the drooping of skin into the visual field, greatly improving peripheral vision. It is also performed for strictly cosmetic reasons.
Functional Blepharoplasty: If the eyelids begin sagging into the field of vision, a functional blepharoplasty may be required. The procedure may be covered by medical insurance if it is deemed medically necessary. A determination of how much vision is affected is done by checking the peripheral visual field with an instrument called the Humphrey Visual Field (HVF) Analyzer.
Cosmetic Blepharoplasty: Blepharoplasty can be performed on either the upper or lower eyelid, or on both, for cosmetic purposes. For a lower eyelid that needs fat rather than skin removed, a transconjunctival blepharoplasty is performed. During transconjunctival blepharoplasty, an incision is made inside the lower eyelid, so there are no visible scars, and the fat is removed. This procedure has no effect on vision, but results in a person's looking younger and more refreshed.
It is important for a patient to have realistic expectations before undergoing cosmetic blepharoplasty. Although the procedure can enhance appearance and improve self-confidence, it does not radically alter the face.
Candidates for Blepharoplasty
The best candidates for blepharoplasty are those who are in good overall health, do not smoke, do not have any serious eye conditions, and have healthy facial tissue and muscle.
People with eye disease, including glaucoma or retinal detachment, thyroid disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure, are not good candidates for blepharoplasty.
The Blepharoplasty Procedure
Blepharoplasty is typically performed as an outpatient procedure requiring local anesthesia and sedation. General anesthesia may be used for anxious patients. Patients can choose to have this procedure on their upper or lower eyelids, or both. The procedure can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on whether both the upper and lower eyelids are operated on.
If the upper eyelid is being operated on, an incision is typically made along the natural crease of the eyelid. Once the incision is made, fat deposits are repositioned or removed, muscles and tissue are tightened, and excess skin is removed. For the lower eyelid, an incision is usually made just below the lash line so that excess skin can be removed.
After the procedure, the incisions are closed with sutures, tissue glue or surgical tape, and usually loosely covered with gauze so the area can heal.
Recovery After Blepharoplasty
After blepharoplasty, patients may be advised to apply lubricating drops/ointment and cold compresses to aid in healing and minimize side effects. Most patients return to work within a few days to a week, but should avoid exercise and strenuous activities for at least 2 weeks. Stitches are usually removed after 3 or 4 days. Most swelling and other side effects typically subside within 2 weeks. Contact lenses and eye makeup may not be worn for 2 weeks after surgery. Patients are typically advised to wear dark sunglasses outside or in bright light for 2 weeks to protect their eyes from sun and wind.
Ptosis is the drooping of the eyelid. While ptosis is usually the result of aging, some people develop ptosis after eye surgery or an injury, and some children are born with the condition.
Causes of Ptosis
Ptosis can be caused by some of the following:
- Normal aging process
- Congenital condition
- Eye surgery
- Myasthenia gravis
- Horner syndrome
Symptoms of Ptosis
Symptoms of ptosis may include:
- The drooping of one or both of the eyelids
- An increase in tearing of the eyes
- Difficulty closing the eye or blinking
- Reduced vision
Treatment of Ptosis
Patients may seek treatment for droopy eyelids for cosmetic and/or medical purposes. Severe drooping may obstruct vision as the eyelid gradually droops lower and lower, eventually covering the eye. If ptosis interferes with a patient's vision, a blepharoplasty will be performed to eliminate the drooping. Many young patients with mild to moderate ptosis should be examined regularly to check for other vision problems including amblyopia, refractive errors and muscular diseases.