Guide to Eyelid Lift Surgery (Blepharoplasty)
- 21 April 2014
- Dr. Nidal (Nick) Masri
Some of the most common complaints about aging are fine lines and wrinkles, but what about drooping eyelids and swelling beneath the eyes? If you have suffered from slightly drooped eyelids most of your life, you may notice that the problem is becoming more pronounced as you get older. If you enjoyed wide eyes when
you were younger, it may be shocking to look in the mirror and see more and more drooping or puffiness as the years pass by.
You may also look in the mirror and realize that you simply don’t look as alert or fresh as you looked in years past. You may reason that you just need to eliminate some of the stress in your life or get more sleep at night, but those lifestyle corrections don’t solve the problem for everyone.
Blepharoplasty, popularly named eyelid lift surgery, is your cosmetic surgeon’s answer to these signs of aging. You no longer have to accept your eyes closing awkwardly or drooping. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life straining to hold your eyes open wide when you take pictures. With surgical intervention from a well-trained, experienced surgeon, you can regain that wide-eyed look of youth.
A trained surgeon can perform an eyelid lift on your upper or lower eyelids. In some cases, the surgery may make corrections to both the upper and lower eyelids. Even if your condition is not caused by basic aging, there may be a surgical correction that can give you a more alert, youthful appearance that is perfect for your Miami, FL lifestyle.
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How is Blepharoplasty Performed?
The exact procedure followed for your eyelid lift will depend on the area of your eye treated and the exact condition being corrected. The general procedure is outlined here so that you have some idea of what to expect when you go in for your surgery. You can get more specific information from our medical providers when you go in for your consultation in Miami, FL or our other South Florida offices.
You can select general anesthesia or sedation through intravenous medication. Which you select will depend on how well you tolerate pain and the exact procedure to be performed on your eyes. You can discuss all of your options and the associated costs when you go in for your initial consultation.
2. Surgical Procedures
Once you have received the type of anesthesia agreed upon before the surgery, your surgeon will make incisions into your eyes. They may remove excess fat or skin through these incisions, depending on the exact problem you are treating. Once the incisions are made and all other surgical procedures are followed, the surgeon will close the incisions.
You want to select your surgeon with great care because the placement of the incisions is extremely important. An experienced surgeon who thinks the procedure through carefully can hide the incisions so that they are not noticeable once your eyes have healed. Poorly placed incisions will announce to the world that you have had surgery on your eyes. You can discuss incision placement prior to the surgery if you want to make sure your surgical team is selecting the best locations possible.
3. Optional Laser Chemical Peel
If you want to bring the skin surrounding your eyes to life, you can have a laser chemical peel after your incisions have been closed. This is used to correct discolored skin beneath the eyes but is not a mandatory part of every procedure. Your medical professional will let you know if you may benefit from additional procedures while you are having your eyelid lift.
Eyelid surgery is not a procedure that you can complete on your lunch break. You will need someone to drive you home and help you for at least a day or two after the procedure. The amount of time you spend with the medical team before going home will depend on the extent of your surgery, the procedures of your chosen provider, the type of anesthesia you receive, and how well your body responds to the procedure.
What are the Risks?
Anytime you undergo surgery you run the risk of developing an infection. Your surgeon will give you detailed instructions to care for your eyes after the surgery, and you will drastically reduce your chances of experiencing infection if you follow those directions completely. Most of those directions will be for short-term care, but you can expect to protect your eyes from direct sunlight for the rest of your life to prevent additional aging of your skin.
Other risks may include the following:
- Excessive bleeding
- Blurred vision (often temporary)
- Trouble closing eyes
- Blood clot
- Discoloration of skin
- Blindness (extreme cases)
In some cases, complications of eyelid surgery can be corrected through additional surgical interventions. You can discuss these options when you see your surgeon for follow-up appointments after your swelling and bruising starts to heal. If you select your surgeon with care and make sure they have the training and experience needed to perform eyelid lift surgeries, you can significantly reduce your chances of experiencing complications after surgery.
What Causes Drooping Upper Eyelids?
Whether your upper eyelids drooped a bit even when you were younger or this is an entirely new experience for you, it is not uncommon to see more and more drooping or sagging as you get older. There are four potential reasons for eyelid drooping, and your eyes are probably affected by at least two of these causes:
- Reduced production of collagen
- Reduced production of elastin
- Shrinking of fat pads under eyelids
- Displacement of fat pads under eyelids
The first two causes on this list occur in every human body regardless of gender, financial status or location. It doesn’t matter how clean you eat or how often you exercise. Your body is going to produce less collagen and elastin as you age, and that is going to leave your skin looser and saggier than it was when you were younger. Unless you find ways to stimulate the production of more collagen and elastin, you are going to notice sagging or drooping skin as you get older.
The last two causes on this list go together as well. Your eyes have fat pads located underneath the eyelids. This fat holds your lids up high, but with time, the pads start to move downward. Sometimes, these fat pads shrink so that you don’t have as much fat as you did when you were younger. The result is droopy eyelids that fall down so that less of your eyeball is visible.
Eyelid Lift for Droopy Upper Eyelids
Now that you understand why your upper eyelids may be drooping down, what can you really do about the problem? There are some ways to stimulate the production of more collagen and elastin in your skin, and you can use injections to lift your eyes to some extent. Yet, those options are do not offer fast results and may not be permanent. The drooping may continue to worsen as you get older.
A surgical eyelid lift will deliver faster and longer term results. Whether your problem is changes in the fat pads beneath the eyes, reduced production of collagen and elastin, or both, this surgical intervention will compensate for the problem by holding your eyelids up. When the procedure is completed by a trained professional with adequate experience, no one has to know that you have had surgery on your eyes. Your eyes will simply appear wider and more alert and youthful.
Blepharoplasty for Puffy Upper Eyelids
Drooping isn’t the only problem that you may experience with your upper eyelids. If you have to much fat stored in your upper eyelids, it may cause your upper lids to look puffy. This can give your eyes a tired, worn out look or make your upper lids droop down, reducing the amount of the eyeball that is noticeable.
If you make corrections to your sleep schedule and try to reduce the amount of stress in your life but continue to notice this puffy, tired look to your upper eyelids, you may be suffering from this condition. A blepharoplasty procedure can remove some of that excess fat and give your upper lids a lift if needed. This will correct the problem and allow your eyes to open wider and appear less worn out or fatigued.
Eyelid Lift Surgery for Sagging or Folded Skin
When the skin surrounding your eyes becomes too loose, it naturally starts to sag. This can create folds in the skin which push your eyelids down. In some cases, this can become so severe that your vision is impaired due to interference from the drooping folds of skin. In that case, surgical intervention is the fastest way to correct the problem so that your vision is no longer compromised.
Blepharoplasty will lift the eyes, and your surgeon may also recommend removal of excess skin if necessary to correct your condition. The goal is to overcome the sagging, loose skin so that it no longer pushes your eyelids downward.
Enliven Your Lower Eyes with Blepharoplasty
While this procedure is commonly used to correct problems with the upper eyelids, you can also use it to correct issues with your lower eyelids and the area of skin directly underneath your eyes. Even when an eyelid lift is used for the upper eyelids, patients commonly notice that the skin surrounding their eyes appears healthier and more youthful as well.
There are multiple problems that you may correct with a lower-eye blepharoplasty:
- Excess skin
- Bags or dark circles
- Drooping lower lids
The procedure can be used to remove excess fat or skin if needed or it can lift up the lower lids so that the whites of the eyeballs are not exposed underneath the iris. As bags or dark circles are corrected and the lids are held in their proper place, you will notice a more youthful, alert appearance to your eye region in general.
Recovering from Eyelid Surgery
Since blepharoplasty is a surgical procedure, you can expect some downtime once it is completed. The exact length of your recovery will depend on the extent of your surgery and how your body reacts to the wounds. Most patients recover within a few weeks, but your eyes may take more or less time depending on the specifics of your procedure.
Immediately after the procedure, you may experience swelling, pain and redness. You will need to follow your surgeon’s care instructions carefully to limit your risk of developing an infection and complicating your recovery.
You may need to treat your eyes with ointment to keep the skin hydrated and healthy during recovery. Compresses may also be used to keep the swelling down so that you are more comfortable and are less prone to infection. Depending on the extent of your surgery, your provider may also cover your wounds with gauze to protect against infection and injury.
Within a few days of the surgery, your recovery may involve more pain and swelling in addition to dry eyes and irritation. As the healing process continues, you can expect to see some bruising around your eyes as well. This will go away with time, and you will eventually see the open, alert eyes that you have been dreaming of experiencing again. It can take some time for the swelling to completely go away, so give it time before you decide whether you are happy with your final results.
Once you are able to remove the gauze from your eyes and the swelling is reduced enough that you can see, you may want to start taking trips outside of the house. You will need to wear dark sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunlight. A large-brimmed hat may also help protect your eyes until they are fully healed. This will also prevent others from seeing the bruising and swelling if you need to leave the house before you are fully healed.
Are You a Suitable Eyelid Lift Candidate?
Most surgeons will only complete eyelid surgery on adults who do not have medical conditions that may lead to complications. Some of the medical conditions that may make you an unsuitable candidate for the procedure include:
- Thyroid disorders
- Detached retina
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Circulatory diseases
Don’t assume that there is nothing you can do about the drooping, sagging or puffiness surrounding your eyes if you have one or more of these conditions. Just note that you need to make your surgical provider aware of these medical issues when you go in for your consultation. They will assess your eyes and consider your medical history and current medical condition to determine whether you are eligible for surgery.
Don’t be surprised if your provider also asks why you want to have eyelid surgery. Responsible surgeons want to make sure that you have healthy motivations and realistic expectations of the outcome of the surgery before you commit to blepharoplasty surgery. Surgeons do this for all types of surgical procedures so that they can select their patients carefully, just as you should select your surgeon carefully.
Is Blepharoplasty Permanent?
In some cases, the results obtained from blepharoplasty surgery can be permanent. It depends on the reason for your problem and the exact nature of your eyelid surgery. You can expect your results to last for years, but your body will continue to change as you get older. It is possible for the reduced production of collagen and elastin to lead to additional eyelid drooping as you get older. It is also possible for signs of aging beneath the eyes to reappear after a number of years.
You cannot stop your body from aging no matter how much surgery you go through. What you can expect is at least a few years of wide-eyed beauty and perhaps another chance to correct any future aging through other surgical and non-surgical procedures. Your surgical provider can give you more specific expectations for the length of results depending on your medical condition and the type of eyelid surgery that’s applicable to your body.