If you’re having to tilt your head back or frequently raise your eyebrows so you can see, chances are you’re suffering from eyelid drooping. Many patients I see don’t realize there are surgical options to fix eyelid drooping and they are pleased with the results after they’ve had surgery.
Why Eyelids Droop
First, eyelid drooping is common. Drooping can be caused by pathological reasons (for example, a stroke – this type of drooping is called ptosis), aging or sun exposure. As we age, the elasticity in our skin is reduced and our tendons and muscles can stretch. Excess skin and fat of the upper lid or weakness of the muscles that open the eye can cause blockage of the visual fields. If you’re experiencing age-related eyelid drooping, chances are the muscle responsible for lifting the eyelid has stretched and is no longer doing its job. This is called acquired ptosis. Not only do my patients feel self-conscious, but drooping eyelids can begin to obstruct vision.
Eyelid Surgery Can Help
The good news is that the surgery to correct ptosis is common and relatively easy. Called blepharoplasty, eyelid surgery improves the appearance of the upper eyelids, lower eyelids or both. Excess skin and fat are a product of aging. Removing the excess skin and fat can create a more youthful, rejuvenated appearance to the surrounding area of your eyes, which makes you look more alert and, best of all, it can correct obstructed vision. In addition, blepharoplasty can:
- Remove excess fatty deposits that appear as puffiness in the upper eyelids.
- Remove excess skin and fine wrinkles of the lower eyelid.
- Remove bags under the eyes.
- Correct droopiness of the lower eyelids.
A blepharoplasty alone isn’t always the only procedure we recommend to correct ptosis. Loose skin and stretching of the ligaments that hold up the forehead and brow can exacerbate the visual blockage caused by the upper lid changes. This is why we sometimes recommend a brow/ forehead lift to be performed when we correct the upper lid problems.
What You Should Expect from Surgery
First, schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon. The surgeon will be able to tell you which surgery would be best for you and whether you’re a good candidate. Typically, people considered to be good candidates are:
- Healthy individuals without any medical conditions that could impair healing
- People with realistic goals
- People without serious eye conditions
Your surgeon will walk you through what you can expect from surgery. Usually, eyelid and brow surgery are outpatient procedures. They do not require an overnight stay. Once home, your surgeon will likely give you a lubricating ointment and instruct you to use cold compresses to alleviate any swelling. Recovery time varies per patient, but typically lasts a few weeks. During that time, you will receive instructions about medications to aid in healing and help reduce the chances of infection. You will likely be told to stay out of the sun. Bruising, swelling, irritation and dry eyes are all common side effects of the surgery during the initial recovery period.
If your eyelids are drooping or you’d like to feel rejuvenated, contact a plastic surgeon to see which options are best for you.
Dr. Jamal Bullocks is a board-certified Plastic Surgery specialist whose clinical interests include reconstructive breast surgery, cosmetic surgery for men and women and body contouring after weight loss.