What is eyelid surgery?
- Eyelid surgery is the treatment of eyelid conditions by incision or manipulation, usually using instruments, by a physician. There are two types of common eyelid conditions correctable by surgery:
- Ptosis (TOH-sis) is droopy upper lids due to eyelid muscles or tendons not working properly, and is a common medical condition. This can affect your vision and appearance, and can be caused by aging, nerve or muscle problems, eye surgery, or injury. This condition can be present on birth, or may develop later in life.
- Blepharoplasty (BLEF-uh-roh-plass-tee) is a procedure used to remove extra baggy tissue on your upper or lower lids that usually develops as you age.
Do I need surgery?
- Many people are affected by eyelid disorders, such as ptosis, or extra baggy or fatty tissue in and around the lids. Some of these people do not notice any effect on their health or vision, and do not pursue surgery. However, eyelid disorders can cause restricted fields of vision, recurring headaches around the brows, strain on the forehead, and self consciousness.
- If your eyelids are impairing your vision, surgery may be recommended by your doctor to improve your sight. You should schedule an exam with an ophthalmic surgeon. Ultimately, it is your decision to proceed with any treatment, including eyelid surgery. Medical insurance will likely cover the procedure as it is indicated by a diagnosed medical condition. You should also inquire about premium options, such as lower eyelid surgery or facial chemical peels, during your appointment.
- If you are self conscious of your eyelids due to drooping or excess skin, or baggy or fatty tissue, be assured that is very normal and can be experienced by men and women of all ages. You should also schedule an exam with an ophthalmic surgeon to discuss the potential for surgery. Your lids may be affecting your vision without you even realizing it. Medical insurance will likely not cover cosmetic eyelid surgery, but will be billable for medical purposes if your lids are impairing your vision. The extent of vision impairment will be measured through testing done at your appointment with the ophthalmologist.
How is eyelid surgery performed?
- Ptosis surgery is a procedure used to lift droopy upper lids by making a small incision in the crease of your upper lid. The lid is then lifted by tightening the muscle that raises the eyelid. The incision will then be stitched closed with sutures.
- Blepharoplasty is a procedure used to remove extra baggy tissue on your upper or lower eyelids by making small incisions in the creases of your upper lid and just below the lashes of your lower lid. The extra tissue is removed through these incisions, which are then stitched closed with sutures. Minor cases may not even need a cut in the skin.
- Both surgeries are usually performed while you are awake, though you will receive medication as to not feel any pain or discomfort
- Eyelid surgery takes about 1 – 2 hours
What happens during the surgical process?
- Before surgery:
- Bring a list of questions or concerns to ask your doctor so you completely understand the procedure, risks, benefits, and other options
- Inform your doctor of every medication you take, including prescriptions, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies, to avoid interactions with anesthesia or increased bleeding
- If you take blood thinners (e.g. warfarin, clopidogrel, or aspirin), be sure to ask your doctor if you need to discontinue these medications prior to surgery
- Take medications prescribed by your doctor prior to surgery as directed
- Day of surgery:
- Follow the given instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking, otherwise your surgery may need to be rescheduled
- Bathe or shower before arriving for your surgery
- Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, makeup, or nail polish prior to your surgery
- Remove all jewelry, piercings, and contact lenses
- Leave your valuables at home
- The surgical site may be marked with a skin marker
- The surgery usually takes about 1 – 2 hours
- A bandage may be placed over your eye, or an ice pack to prevent swelling
- After surgery:
- Have a friend or family member available to drive you home (do not drive yourself until you have discontinued pain management medications and can move and react easily)
- Arrange for extra help at home, especially if you live alone or provide care for another person
- You will receive more specific instructions about recovery before your surgery, including activity levels and when you may return to work
- You will likely return home the same day
- Small scars may be visible immediately after surgery, but these will fade or disappear over time
When should you call for help?
- If you are having to raise your eyebrows to lift your eyelids
- If you have consistent headaches in the region of your eyebrows
- If you have questions or concerns
- If you don’t understand how to prepare for your surgery
- If you become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold)
- If you need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery