Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty)

Cosmetic eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, can correct drooping upper lids and puffy bags below the eyes – features that make you look older or more tired than you feel. In some cases, it can even improve vision that is impaired by sagging lids.

Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, typically takes one hour and is usually performed under general anaesthetic. Blepharoplasty involves removing excess fat muscle and skin from the eyelid. This treatment is a good option for patients wishing for a more youthful, fresher appearance.

Eyelid surgery can be performed in conjunction with a facelift or brow lift.

This procedure will not remove crow’s feet or other wrinkles, eliminate dark circles under the eyes or lift sagging eyebrows.

Swelling, bruising, and sensitivity to light may occur post-surgery, but will resolve within 10 days to two weeks.

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Anatomy and Description of Blepharoplasty

What is Blepharoplasty?

Blepharoplasty refers to eyelid surgery.

It is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and underlying fat from the upper eyelids, lower eyelids or both.

Blepharoplasty surgery is customised for every patient, depending on his or her particular needs. It can be performed alone involving upper, lower or both eyelids, or in conjunction with other surgical procedures of the brow or face.

Blepharoplasty can diminish excess skin and bagginess in the eyelid region but cannot stop the process of aging.

Blepharoplasty will not remove “crow’s feet” or other wrinkles, eliminate dark circles under the eyes, or lift sagging eyebrows or upper cheeks.

Upper eyelid surgery can help improve vision in older patients who have hooding of skin over the upper eyelids.

Eyelid surgery can add an upper eyelid crease to the Asian eyelid but it will not erase the racial or ethnic heritage.

Surgical Incisions

Incisions in the upper eyelids

An incision is made in the natural skin fold of the upper eyelid. The skin fold of the upper eyelid helps to conceal the scar.

Excess skin and protruding fat are removed. The incision may be closed with a suture that dissolves or a skin suture that will have to be removed after a few days.

Incisions in the lower eyelids

There is a choice of two incisions in the lower eyelids. The incision used will depend on the individual surgeon and the underlying eyelid problem.

Your surgeon may either choose an external or internal incision and/or laser resurfacing.

External incision

An external (sub-ciliary) incision is made in the skin just beneath the lower eyelashes and follows the natural curve of the eye. Fat and excess skin is removed and the incision is closed with sutures.

An external approach to lower blepharoplasty allows the surgeon to remove excess skin of the lower eyelid if required.

Internal incision (transconjunctival)

A trans-conjunctival incision is made on the inside of the eyelid, to remove excess fatty deposits. This incision leaves no external scar. The muscle of the eyelid is not disturbed and the risk of lower eyelid retraction may be reduced.

If there is some skin laxity then laser resurfacing of the lower eyelid may be recommended by your surgeon.

Laser resurfacing

At Cairns Plastic Surgery we use a FRAXEL laser which can be used to rejuvenate the lower eyelid by removing fine lines and tightening the skin.

Laser resurfacing will not remove large amounts of excess skin or bags in the lower lids. Laser resurfacing is commonly combined with the trans-conjunctival approach to the lower eyelid to tighten the skin of the lower eyelid.

The surgery

The surgery is performed either as a day procedure, or can be an overnight stay in hospital. Surgery takes between 1 – 2 hours under a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic with sedation.

Ice packs are usually applied after the procedure to assist with the swelling, bruising and discomfort. Vision is blurred initially due to the eye ointment that is used to protect the cornea.

Recovery time varies. It may take up to 2 weeks or longer for bruising to subside. Make-up can be applied to conceal any residual bruising.

The eyes may feel tight, dry, watery and even sensitive to light for 4 weeks or more. During recovery, sunglasses may assist in avoiding the sun and glare, and to help disguise the surgery.

Alternative Treatments

Alternative forms of management include not treating the skin laxness and bagginess in the eyelids by surgery.

Occasionally upper eyelid excess is directly related to brow droop and improvement of upper eyelid skin excess and laxity may be accomplished by a browlift or a forehead lift when indicated. Other forms of eyelid surgery may be needed if there are disorders affecting the function of the eyelid such as drooping eyelids from muscle problems (eyelid ptosis) or looseness between the eyelid and eyeball (ectropion).

Minor skin wrinkling may be improved through chemical skin peels, laser resurfacing and Botox injections.

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Risks of Surgery

All surgery is associated with some risk

It is important that you understand that there are risks involved with any surgery. Whilst the majority of individuals undergoing surgery do not experience any complications, a minority do and there cannot be any guarantees in surgery.

With every type of surgery the best possible outcome is sought. The importance of having a highly qualified surgeon and professional surgical team and facility cannot be overestimated.

Risk to benefit

The choice to undergo a surgical procedure should be based on the comparison of the risk to the potential benefit to you.

Make sure that you take time to read and understand how each potential complication can impact on your life and try to make the risk to benefit comparison specifically for yourself.

Informed consent process

Before any surgery, your surgeon should explain to you the risks of the procedure and the possible complications. The informed surgical consent web site will help you to understand the risks that your surgeon has already discussed. It may also bring up other issues that will require a second surgical consultation to clarify. You should not feel that you are being an inconvenience by seeking another consultation and clarification of any questions that you may have.

You should take the opportunity to read this informed surgical consent website carefully and at your own pace. The questionnaire at the end will help to clarify your understanding. There is also opportunity to make note of specific concerns and issues that may be relevant to you so that you can discuss these concerns with your surgeon.

Impact of complications

The risks of surgery involve possible inconvenience if a complication occurs. It may result in an extension of your recovery period and in some cases may need further surgery. Infrequently, complications may have a permanent effect on your final result.

Financial risks

Financial risks are involved with any surgery. Private health insurance is strongly recommended. If you do not have private health insurance then a complication or further surgery will add to the overall cost of your surgery.

Risks related to general health

Your general health will impact on the possible risks of surgery. Many of the risks associated with surgery can be predicted, however, your general health plays a vital role to the outcome of your surgery.

Age carries a greater risk with any surgery. Being overweight carries a greater surgical risk. Other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart and lung disease may also increase your surgical risk.

Smoking greatly increases all risks and complications of surgery.

What else?

Finally other factors, that may not be obvious, can influence the outcome of your surgery and the risks are beyond anyone’s control.

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