Eyelid surgery, blepharoplasty, is an operation that corrects sagging or drooping eyelids as well as bags and bulges around the eyes. These conditions develop as a result of laxity of the eyelid skin and protrusion of fat around the eyes. It is not limited to older patients, as many individuals inherit a predisposition toward development of fat pouches at an early age. Excess skin is treated by excision or occasionally by laser resurfacing. If excess fat is present, it can be removed simultaneously. Surgical correction is appropriate for all age groups.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN THE OPERATION?
Blepharoplasty is performed under general anesthesia and takes 2-3 hours. The operation involves cutting out an ellipse of skin taking with it the underlying fat. Once the ellipse of skin has been removed, the skin above the excision and the skin below are stitched together. The result is a small scar. The scar for upper eyelids is hidden in the crease of the eye and the scar for lower eyelids is concealed in the lash line. For some this procedure will last several years and for others it may be permanent. Before the operation, depending on your age and fitness, you may have to undergo some simple health checks such as blood tests and EKG.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
There are general risks associated with a general anesthetic such as aspiration of stomach content into the lungs which can cause serious illness or death. Therefore, to help prevent this it is mandatory that you do not eat or drink anything (usually 8 hours) preceding your surgery. Other risks include DVTs, (clots in the veins of the legs) which can break off and travel to the lungs, this is known as an embolus and although very rare, can be life threatening; especially in smokers. You will be encouraged to get up and walk around as soon as possible to reduce these risks. You can expect some temporary blurred or double vision. You may also have swelling at the corners of the eyelids accompanied by dry eyes. You may notice a formation of whiteheads on or near the suture line. As with any surgery, there is always the possibility of slight asymmetry in healing or scarring. Bleeding under the skin leads to bruising but excessive bleeding that collects under the skin is known as a hematoma. In some cases, this requires a second operation to remove the hematoma. You may notice some difficulty in closing your eyes completely which, very rarely, may be permanent. You may also notice the skin of the lower lids being pulled down during healing; this usually resolves but may require further surgery.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE OPERATION?
After the operation you will need someone to drive you home and look after you for the first 24 hours after surgery. You may experience some pain which should be alleviated by the pain medications. You will experience some temporary discomfort such as; a feeling of tightness in the eyelid area, swelling and bruising. You may also experience temporary eye dryness, burning, itching of eyes or even excessive tearing and/or light sensitivity that can last for several weeks.
WHEN CAN NORMAL ACTIVITIES BE RESUMED?
You may begin reading after about 2-3 days and can expect to return to work at approximately 5-10 days. Use of contact lens may be resumed after two weeks (upon re-evaluation by the physician). More strenuous activities may be resumed after three weeks. Bruising and swelling should be gone after several weeks.
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