As we age, the tissue and skin above the eyelids lose elasticity and can begin to droop. In some cases, the drooping lid can even impair vision if it extends over the line of sight. Whether the sagging eyelids cause functional problems with vision or only aesthetic appearance issues, upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) can restore a youthful appearance and help the eyes to look larger and more prominent.
Aging around the eyes causes many people to feel less self-confident about their appearance. When the eyelids are no longer taut, it can cause a person to even look older than their actual years.
While there are non-surgical procedures to tighten the skin on the upper eyelids, they are generally effective only in cases where the sagging of the skin is minor. In more pronounced cases of sagging skin, blepharoplasty is the only option for a good result. Surgery is also a more permanent solution. While the aging process continues after the surgery, drooping upper eyelids generally take years to develop.
Cosmetic surgery procedures like eyelid surgery should be performed by a plastic surgeon with extensive experience performing the procedure. A skilled surgeon ensures patient safety, as well as a desirable result. When done properly, eyelid surgery does not change the shape of the eyes but simply restores the eyes to their younger appearance.
Lower blepharoplasty can also be performed under the eyes to remove bags and puffiness in that area. This procedure can be done separately or in conjunction with an upper blepharoplasty.
The Blepharoplasty Procedure
During an upper blepharoplasty procedure, the surgeon removes excess skin, fatty tissue, and muscle on the upper lid. Tiny incisions are made in the crease of the eye so that scars will not be visible post-operatively.
Some patients remain awake during blepharoplasty under a local anesthetic that prevents the experience of pain. Other patients prefer to take a sedative to be partially asleep or general anesthesia in order to be completely asleep during the surgery. In all cases, the eyelids are numbed so that no discomfort is felt. Patients who stay awake during the procedure report that they feel some mild tugging on the skin as the surgeon removes the tissue.
Eyelid surgery is an outpatient procedure that does not require a hospital stay. The surgery takes just one to three hours depending on the extent of the tissue removed. No two cases are the same, so the amount of time required will vary.
Recovering from Blepharoplasty
Patients who have eyelid surgery cannot drive themselves home after the procedure. Vision will be impaired, and the anesthetic can cause some residual sleepiness. Therefore, all patients must schedule someone to drive them home after the procedure.
The patient’s vision will continue to be impaired for a few days, as bandages are usually placed over the eyes after the surgery. Some people experience blurred or even double vision for the first few days, which makes it unsafe to drive or operate machinery. The eyes may also itch and water during the healing process, and there may be a slight increased sensitivity to light.
In some cases, the stitches may dissolve on their own, while others may need to be removed by the surgeon during the recovery period – about five days after the surgery.
The recovery period for blepharoplasty is relatively short, however, at just one to two weeks. During this time, the surgeon will provide a prescription for eye drops. An ointment is also frequently provided to prevent eye dryness.
Some soreness can also be expected post-operatively, and pain medications can be taken to relieve the discomfort. Any swelling that occurs can be alleviated with an ice pack and by keeping the head elevated.
No makeup or contact lenses can be worn during the recovery period. Once the stitches have dissolved or been removed by the surgeon, contact lenses and eye makeup can be worn again. Healing continues after the stitches have been removed, however, and the incisions will remain red for a short time. Tiny whiteheads may also appear at the lines of the incisions as the healing continues. These can sometimes be removed by the surgeon, and they are generally not visible since the incisions are contained in the creases of the eyelids.
The Safety of Blepharoplasty
Complications are highly unusual with blepharoplasty, with rare cases of bleeding or infection, which can generally be treated easily.
Eyelid surgery is not appropriate for everyone, such as people who have chronic dry eyes, diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) disease, high blood pressure, or hypothyroidism. The surgeon will take a full medical history prior to eyelid surgery to make sure that the patient is a good candidate for the procedure.
Blepharoplasty is a very safe procedure, and thousands of successful eyelid surgeries are performed annually. Reputable plastic surgeons conduct detailed consultations prior to the procedures to determine if the surgery will be safe for the patient and to provide the patient with information as to what to expect before, during, and after the surgery. Detailed instructions are given about how to care for the eyes post-operatively so that the healing process is smooth and quick. This ensures a pleasing result and an easier recovery period.