Cosmetic Eye Surgery
Surgery to the eye area refers to upper eyelid surgery or lower eyelid surgery (also known as blepharoplasty). The procedures can be done alone or together. Upper eyelid surgery is done to reduce puffiness caused by excess fat, tighten sagging skin and, in come cases, improve vision if the upper lids have become hooded over the eyes. Lower eyelid surgery corrects bags and fine wrinkles under the eyes.
Blepharoplasty is one of the top five cosmetic surgical procedures for both men and women, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The best candidates for cosmetic eyelid surgery are in good health, do not smoke and have no serious eye or other health conditions.
Schedule a consultation with a qualified cosmetic eye surgeon, and be prepared to give him or her a full medical history. He or she will listen to your concerns and make recommendations based on your skin tone, age and desired results.
Prior to eyelid surgery, the cosmetic surgeon might recommend a field vision test to see if blepharoplasty would be cosmetic or functional. If the procedure would improve the patient's vision, his or her health insurance might pay for a portion of the procedure.
Use our Surgeon Locator to find a cosmetic eyelid surgeon in your area.
The procedure, whether done on the upper or lower lids or both, is typically performed under local anesthesia, and the patient is either fully awake or in a sedative-induced light sleep. The procedure can be done in the physician's office or in an outpatient surgical facility.
Upper eyelid surgery is performed with a small incision that is skillfully tucked along the crease of the eyelid. The incision extends from the inner corner of the lid above the tear duct to the outer corner of the lid where the "laugh lines" start. Fat and excess skin is removed, and the surgeon closes the incision with sutures.
Lower eyelid surgery incisions can be made below the lash line, in a natural crease or from the inside of the lower lid. The blepharoplasty surgeon and patient will discuss the best technique at the initial consultation, and the physician will likely review it with the patient the day of the surgery. The surgeon removes excess tissue, fat and muscle and, if necessary repositions the fat to help reduce bags and dark shadows under the eyes.
Risks and Benefits of Cosmetic Eyelid Surgery
All surgical cosmetic procedures come with inherent risks; however, these are rare with blepharoplasty. Following the surgeon's advice before and after the procedure will minimize a patient's risk for infection or other complications. Smokers are usually advised to quit smoking before their procedures, because cigarette smoking has been shown to interfere with healing.
After Eyelid Surgery
Patients sleep upright to minimize pain and swelling in the first few days after surgery. They might be advised to use cool compresses. Some swelling, redness and bruising might be present, and these disappear over the next two weeks. The physician might prescribe a light pain medication and eye drops to help with swelling. Patients who have had blepharoplasty sometimes experience blurry vision, light sensitivity and excessive tearing for a few days after surgery. They are able to resume normal activities about 10 days after eyelid surgery.
The results of eyelid surgery are permanent; however, the skin continues to age. Talk to a cosmetic surgeon about lifestyle changes you can make to slow the effects of aging, such as staying out of the sun, avoiding cigarette smoke, getting a good balance of rest and exercise and limiting alcohol consumption.
Nonsurgical Eye Lift
Noninvasive approaches to correcting the effects of aging around the eyes come in various techniques and with varying results. Many creams and cosmetics claim to remove years from the face and restore it the youthfulness we had in our 20s. These over-the-counter treatments tend to exaggerate the very temporary effects, if any, of their potions.
There are nonsurgical techniques that have lasting effects, such as Thermage®, a technique that uses radiofrequencies to break down fat cells and stimulate collagen production. Thermage is designed to be a permanent solution, although it does not stop the aging process. This method would suit a patient who presents with puffiness around the eyes. Results from Thermage are not as dramatic as they are from blepharoplasty.
Dermal fillers can be used to a similar effect as eyelid surgery. This is a nonsurgical and minimally invasive technique that involves injecting a filler such as Restylane®. Instead of removing tissue, as blepharoplasty does, the filler lifts tissue to smooth the skin and eliminate shadows that create dark circles around the eyes. This is a safe and cost-effective method for slowing the effects of aging. It is not a permanent treatment, and touch ups are needed every few months.