The famous philosopher and poet Henry David Thoreau once said – ‘The eye is the jewel of the body’.
Having a set of big, well-shaped eyes is an asset that doesn’t last long. With age, the skin of the eyelids loses elasticity, the muscles supporting the eyes weaken, fats get deposited above and under the eyes which eventually leads to saggy, wrinkled and droopy upper eyelids and baggy undereye.
Blepharoplasty (Eyelift or eyelid surgery) is a procedure which repairs the eyelids by removing excess fat, muscle and skin. This surgery can be done on either or both upper and lower eyelids. Though, it is usually done for cosmetic reasons but can also be done in old people whose upper eyelids sag too much and get in the way of vision. Blepharoplasty can help you to get rid of such problems and make your eyes look young and prominent.
Eyelid surgery can be opted for people who have loose and saggy upper and/or lower eyelid, fat deposits under the eye that make the eye look puffy, undereye bags, or wrinkles in the lower eyelids. To undergo this surgery, a patient should fulfil these criteria:
- Should have good health
- Should not smoke
- Should not have any eye diseases
Patients who want to undergo this surgery must not have thyroid problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.
PREPARATION BEFORE PROCEDURE
Before any surgery, one needs to go for a presurgical consultation. Your surgeon would assess your medical history and do an eye examination. The eye examination would include visual acuity peripheral vision testing and tear gland function.
Before the surgery, the surgeon would measure parts of eyelids and take photos of the eye from different angles. These photos would help your surgeon to plan the surgery and evaluate the effects post-surgery.
In addition, you would be asked to:
- Stop taking drugs that increase the risk of bleeding, such as warfarin, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium.
- Stop smoking weeks before surgery as smoking delays the healing process.
- Have a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Blepharoplasty is an outpatient procedure. Make sure you have someone drive you home on the day of surgery.
After surgery, you may need to take some measures to help your eye heal faster. Keep these things ready at home: ice packs, gauze drops, and artificial tear drops (suggested by the doctor).
Blepharoplasty is a two-hour procedure. Before the surgery, your surgeon would inject a local anaesthesia around the eye that would numb the entire area around the eye. You would be given sedatives either orally or through the veins.
If the surgery is planned for all four eyelids, the upper eyelids would be worked upon first. The surgeon would cut along the crease of the upper eyelid. Next, he would remove excess skin, fat and muscle and then would close the incision with stitches.
During lower eyelid surgery, an incision is made just under the eyelashes. Excess fat, skin and if needed, muscle, is removed and the incision is closed. In another type of lower eyelid procedure, the incision is made inside the lower eyelid and the extra tissue is removed. After any of these procedures, the surgeon may suggest laser resurfacing. The surgeon may also choose to remove fine undereye wrinkles using CO2 or erbium laser after the procedure.
During recovery, you would be given some cold compresses and lubricating ointments to apply on the eye. The eye may have the stitches for as long as a week. You may experience some symptoms such as mild pain, swelling, double vision or blurred vision. Your eyelids would look normal within a week or two. However, the healing would take nearly a month. Make sure that you follow all post-op instructions to prevent any strain on the healing incisions.
It may be possible that the effect of the surgery is not as desired; in this case, you can opt for re-surgery. The effects of upper eyelid surgery usually last for 5-7 years. Lower eyelid repair usually does not require re-surgery. If the eyelids become saggy again, you may be asked to opt for a forehead lift rather than another eyelid surgery.
Following these instructions given by your doctors helps you to heal faster:
- Avoid rubbing your eyes.
- Gently clean your eyes regularly and use eye ointments and drops as prescribed.
- Apply cold compresses over the eye for 10 minutes every hour on the day of surgery and 5-6 times the following day.
- Avoid any strenuous activity like weightlifting, swimming and aerobics for at least a week.
- Do not use contact lenses for about 2 weeks of surgery.
- Use sunglasses and sun creams to protect your eye and the surrounding skin from the sun.
FACTORS AFFECTING COST
The cost of blepharoplasty depends upon various factors such as
- the type of surgery
- the expertise of the surgeon
- the hospital
- the city where you get the surgery done
Ptosis is a condition in which the upper eyelid tend to droop and partly cover the eye. This occurs when the levator muscle (the muscle that raises the eyelid) becomes too weak and stretched. The surgical approach for this condition is very different and cannot be treated using standard blepharoplasty.
As for any invasive procedure, blepharoplasty also has some risks, such as:
- Bleeding from the incision
- Ectropion (lower eyelid turns outwards)
- Dryness of eyes
- Skin changes and numbness of the eyelashes
Blepharoplasty is usually a cosmetic surgery and such surgeries are generally not covered under standard (basic) health insurance plan. For confirmation, you can talk to your insurance agency.
An eyelift procedure would not eliminate problems such as dark circles and wrinkles around the eyes. If you need to get rid of these problems, talk to your doctor. Other procedures like fillers, laser resurfacing can be done along with eye lift to treat them.
Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of these problems:
- Chest pain and shortness of breath
- Severe eye pain
- Bleeding or pus at the incisional site
- Problems in vision