Eyelid surgery (technically called blepharoplasty) is a procedure to remove fat—usually along with excess skin and muscle from the upper and lower eyelids. Eyelid surgery can correct drooping upper lids and puffy bags below your eyes—features that make you look older and more tired than you feel, and may even interfere with your vision.
However, it won’t remove crow’s feet or other wrinkles, eliminate dark circles under your eyes, or lift sagging eyebrows. Blepharoplasty can be done alone, or in conjunction with other facial surgery procedures such as ThreadLift, FAMI or fillers.
The best candidates for eyelid surgery are men and women who are physically healthy, psychologically stable, and realistic in their expectations. Most are 35 or older, but if droopy, baggy eyelids run in your family, you may decide to have eyelid surgery at a younger age.
A few medical conditions make blepharoplasty more risky. They include thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism and Graves’ disease, dry eye or lack of sufficient tears, high blood pressure or other circulatory disorders, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. A detached retina or glaucoma is also reason for caution; check with your ophthalmologist before you have surgery.
Be sure to inform Dr. Byrd if you have any allergies, if you’re taking any vitamins, medications (prescription or over-the-counter), or other drugs, and if you smoke. You should also provide any relevant information from your ophthalmologist or the record of your most recent eye exam. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to bring them along.
You and Dr. Byrd should carefully discuss your goals and expectations for this surgery. You’ll need to discuss whether to do all four eyelids or just the upper or lower ones, whether skin as well as fat will be removed, and whether any additional procedures are appropriate.
Dr. Byrd performs all Blepharoplasty procedures at our facilities on an outpatient basis; rarely does it require an inpatient stay. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia–which numbs the area around your eyes–along with oral or intravenous sedatives. You’ll be awake during the surgery, but relaxed and insensitive to pain. (However, you may feel some tugging or occasional discomfort.) Blepharoplasty usually takes one to three hours, depending on the extent of the surgery.
After the procedure is finished, the surgeon will probably lubricate your eyes with ointment and may apply a bandage. Your eyelids may feel tight and sore as the anesthesia wears off, but you can control any discomfort with the pain medication prescribed by Dr. Byrd.
You will need to keep your head elevated for several days and use cold compresses to reduce swelling and bruising. (Bruising varies from person to person; it reaches its peak during the first week, and generally lasts anywhere from two weeks to a month.) You’ll be shown how to clean your eyes, which may be gummy for a week or so. Eye drops can also help, since your eyelids may feel dry at first and your eyes may burn or itch. For the first few weeks you may also experience excessive tearing, sensitivity to light, and temporary changes in your eyesight, such as blurring or double vision.
You should be able to read or watch television after two or three days. However, you won’t be able to wear contact lenses for about two weeks, and even then they may feel uncomfortable for a while.
Most people feel ready to go out in public (and back to work) in a week to 10 days. By then, depending on your rate of healing, you’ll probably be able to wear makeup to hide the bruising that remains. You may be sensitive to sunlight, wind, and other irritants for several weeks, so you should wear sunglasses and a special sunblock made for eyelids when you go out.
It’s a good idea to keep your activities to a minimum for three to five days, and to avoid more strenuous activities for about three weeks. It’s especially important to avoid activities that raise your blood pressure, including bending, lifting, and rigorous sports. You should avoid alcohol, since it causes fluid retention.
Healing is a gradual process, and your scars may remain slightly pink for six months or more after surgery. Eventually though, they’ll fade to a thin, nearly invisible white line. On the other hand, the positive results of your eyelid surgery—the more alert and youthful look—will last for years. For many people, these results are permanent.