Eyelid surgery, called blepharoplasty, is a type of cosmetic surgery that removes excess fat from the upper and lower eyelids. Age, illness, and even heredity can result in puffy or drooping eyelids that cause individuals to look tired and worn out. In extreme cases, sagging eyelids may even interfere with vision. Eyelid surgery can correct this by removing extraneous fat and trimming sagging skin and muscle tissue. Once the incisions have healed and the swelling has gone down, eyes look rejuvenated, more alert, and youthful.
Selecting a reputable plastic surgeon is critical to a successful surgery. The surgeon you select should be Board Certified and have considerable experience with blepharoplasty. Once you have selected a surgeon, the initial consultation is very important. Make sure to bring detailed copies of your medical records, since the doctor will need to complete a medical history. The doctor will perform a close examination of your eyes and eyelids, including a vision exam, as well as discuss your goals for the surgery. Your surgeon will also use the initial consultation to go over the details of the procedure, the expected results, the risks, and the costs involved.
If you are considering eyelid surgery, it is important to thoroughly research the procedure, even if this just means talking over the details with your surgeon. Blepharoplasty is a relatively safe procedure, although like all other surgeries, you do run the risk of complications. When performed by a qualified surgeon, complications resulting from blepharoplasty are infrequent and typically minor. Minor complications may include temporary swelling of the eyelids, excess tearing, temporary blurred or double vision, tissue tenderness, sensitivity to light, and scarring at the site of the incision. More serious complications include infections and a reaction to the anesthesia used in the procedure. Occasionally patients find that they have difficulty closing their eyes after blepharoplasty. Most often this is a temporary side effect, although there have been reports of the condition becoming permanent. In rare cases, patients may experience a pulling down of their lower eyelids, called ectropion, which requires additional surgical procedures.
Most eyelid surgeries are performed under a local anesthesia which is used to numb the tissue and muscles around your eyes. Your surgeon may also give you a sedative, either orally or intravenously, to help relax you since patients are kept awake during the procedure. Under local anesthesia, you will not feel any pain but may experience some tugging or pressure during the surgery. In certain circumstances, some surgeons opt to perform blepharoplasty under a general anesthetic, in which case the patient is asleep throughout the entire procedure
The surgeries typically last from 90 minutes to 3 hours, depending on how many eyelids are to be corrected. During the procedure, the Eyelid surgeon makes small incisions along the natural lines of the eyelids – just under the eyelashes on the lower lids and in the deep creases of your upper eyelids. Excess fat is removed through the incision, and sagging muscle and skin are trimmed to neaten your appearance. Once the trimming is completed, your surgeon will use tiny sutures to stitch up the incision.
Once the surgery is complete, your surgeon will advise you on how to care for the incision. You will likely to be told to keep your eyes lubricated with an antibiotic ointment and take pain medication to control any discomfort you feel during the healing process. Cold compresses can be used to minimize swelling and bruising although patients will find that even with the compresses the swelling, tenderness, and bruising will be present for several days and may even last up to a month. Your eyes may tingle and feel gummy or dry for several days as well. Expect to return for a follow-up visit to your surgeon a few days after the procedure for a checkup and removal of your stitches.
Remember that the healing process takes time and it may be several weeks before you are completely recovered. In time the incisions will become less and less noticeable, fading into a thin white line that will be barely noticeable. The end result of the surgery though, should be brighter more alert eyes that make you look well-rested and youthful.
William A. Portuese, M.D.
1101 Madison Street, #1280
Seattle, Wa. 98104