Oculoplastic surgery refers to a wide variety of surgical procedures that treat the eyelids, tear ducts and the face. An oculoplastic surgeon performs reconstructive surgery as well. Specialists can perform procedures to restore obstructed vision, improve appearance or both. Because an oculoplastic surgeon has advanced surgical training in ophthalmology and the aesthetic training of a plastic surgeon, the results can be improved eyesight and a rejuvenated appearance.
Two Conditions that Require Oculoplastics
Some conditions, like droopy eyelids, can gradually interfere with your eyesight. Not only do droopy eyelids make you look sad or tired, but they can actually limit your visual field. There are two eye conditions that can cause your eyelids to droop and reduce your vision: dermatochalasis and ptosis.
Dermatochalasis is an eye condition characterized by excessive skin on the eyelid. It is usually associated with older age when skin loses elasticity, but younger individuals can be affected by dermatochalasis as well. A mild to moderate case of dermatochalasis can make you just look tired or sad, but an advanced case can actually impair your vision, especially peripheral vision. Dermatochalasis is very noticeable because of the folded, baggy skin on the eyelids that make your eyes appear puffy or swollen.
Ptosis is a condition where the levator muscle in the eyelid is not working effectively and the lid margin droops down into your field of vision. Ptosis can occur at birth (congenital ptosis) or develop due to the aging process or injury. This eye condition may cause you to raise your head back to try to see under the drooping lid or raise your eyebrows repeatedly to try to lift the eyelids.
Eyelid Revision Procedures
Most cases of dermatochalasis and ptosis are corrected with surgery by an ophthalmologist, but the procedures will be different.
Dermatachalasis is corrected by blepharoplasty, an eyelid revision procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the eyelid to improve vision and rejuvenate the appearance of the eye. Cosmetic blepharoplasty can correct sagging upper eyelids and eliminate unwanted puffiness. Functional blepharoplasty can improve vision that is impaired by excess skin that is drooping into the visual field. Whether your primary reason for surgery is for function or appearance, blepharoplasty restores a more youthful look to your face and opens up the eye by removal of excess tissue.
Ptosis surgery often involves tightening the levator muscles to lift your eyelids and improve your vision as well as your appearance. In very severe cases, your surgeon may connect the eyelid to the forehead to allow your forehead muscles to lift the eyebrow and eyelid. One possible side effect is that your eyelids may not be exactly symmetrical even though the lids are higher than before surgery.
Most eyelid surgeries are performed under local anesthesia and require around an hour to perform. To minimize scarring, your oculoplastic surgeon will make small incisions along the natural fold of your eyelid and close the incision with small stitches. Most people can return to work within a week and experience only mild discomfort.