Cosmetic eyelid surgery (Blepharoplasty) is the third most common cosmetic surgical procedure performed in the US. That’s not surprising, because for many people eyelid surgery is one of the best ways to improve your appearance. Our eyes are the windows to our souls. They also are the part of our face that people look at the most. There is a lot to talk about when it comes to eyelid surgery so we’ll start with this post. You could call this post eyelid surgery 101.
First there are some terms that you should know.
Ptosis- that is when your upper eyelids are actually droopy. In other words the part of your eyelid with the lashes sits too low when your eyes are open. That is due to a problem with the muscles or nerves that open the eye (usually the muscles)
Dermatochalasis- that is when you have extra skin & or fat around the eyes. It can be extra skin hanging over your upper eyelids or sagging skin and fat on your lower eyelids.
Fat prolapse- This is what people call bags. Usually people think of this as a lower lid problem, but some people have fat prolapse or excess fat in their upper eyelids as well.
Cosmetic eyelid surgery addresses any or all of these problems, depending on the needs of the patient.
Let me tell you what to expect when you have eyelid surgery.
1. First you will need a consultation with your cosmetic surgeon. At that time he/she will ask you what you would like to improve about your appearance. Then, after an exam, you’ll find out if eyelid surgery is a good idea for you and what will be corrected at the time of surgery.
2. At that point you can decide if you want to schedule surgery, or go home and think things over. Cosmetic surgery can be great, but it is elective. You should only go ahead if you are completely comfortable with what you have learned, and with your doctor.
3. If you decide to proceed, the surgery is performed at an accredited surgical center as an out- patient. Prior to surgery you will need to discontinue any medications that thin the blood (aspirin, motrin, Vit E, and others). Always check with your family doctor to be sure that it is safe for you to stop your blood thinning medication before proceeding with this elective surgery. Depending on your age you may also need to have some pre-operative tests (like blood work and an EKG).
4. You should not have anything to eat or drink after midnight before the day of surgery. In the morning you can take your regular medications with a sip of water (except for medications that thin the blood).
5. You’ll arrive at the surgical center about 1 hour prior to your surgery. First you’ll be examined by a nurse as well as the anesthesiologist. In case you have any last minute questions, you’ll also have a chance to talk to your doctor before the procedure
6. Surgery is usually performed under sedation (twilight sleep). The surgery usually takes between 1-2 hours but the time goes by very fast, because you will be asleep for the surgery.
7. After the surgery you will awaken in the recovery room. There will be ointment in your eyes, so your vision may be a little bit blurry. There will also be ice cold compresses on your eyes to help prevent bruising.
8. Once you are fully awake you will be able to go home (you’ll need a driver). At home you should take it very easy for 4 days. During that time you will apply medication to you eyes and use cold compresses frequently. You may need pain medication the first day. But it is rare to have any significant discomfort after the first day. Bruising happens over the first few days after surgery. You’ll probably have some bruising, but less is better. Taking it easy and using cold compresses helps reduce bruising. It is also helpful to sit with your head elevated (above your heart) when you are awake.
9. You will see your doctor over the next few days. If you have stitches they will be removed in about 6-10 days depending on the type of surgery that was performed.
10. Most patients are back to their near normal routine one week after surgery. You may not be able to put on makeup near your eyes for about 2 weeks (depending upon which procedure you have). You also need to avoid the sun until your skin returns to normal.
11. Most people start to see the results by about 2 weeks. But you’ll still look like you had surgery at that point. If you want to be “camera ready” (like for a wedding) you should plan to wait about 6 weeks to be safe.
So that is the basics. We’ll talk a lot about eyelid surgery specifics in future posts.