As we age, our eyelids do not grow any more skin. Instead, the delicate skin around the eyes becomes looser, creating an overhang of skin that clutters the eyelid fold and can often lead to an obstruction of vision. Whilst the cause of heavy eyelid skin can not be treated, blepharoplasty (or eyelid surgery) offers an excellent solution to the symptoms caused by this excess skin. So, what does the surgery entail? What is the recovery time? And what results can you realistically expect? Here we answer the most frequently asked questions surrounding eyelid surgery to help you understand if the procedure may be right for you.
What is blepharoplasty surgery?
Blepharoplasty is a surgical procedure, performed to re-contour the eyelid and remove loose skin from the eye area. The term ‘blepharoplasty’ is used to describe surgery to the upper and/or lower eyelid, both of which can be adversely affected by the ageing process and subject to the gradual accumulation of loose skin.
Where the upper eye area is of greatest concern, upper blepharoplasty surgery may be performed to remove a strip of skin and redundant muscle from the upper eyelid. If necessary, this piece of muscle can be re-contoured. Upper blepharoplasty surgery is most frequently under a local anaesthetic and is generally completed within 2 hours. Following upper eyelid surgery, patients can expect to see a visibly refreshed eye area with heaviness around the eyelid relieved.
Lower eyelids, by comparison, are a much more complex structure. Because lower eyelids work continually against gravity, their internal strength reduces with age, leading to a lack of natural support. The skin in the eye area is delicate and loses its elasticity over time. Lower eyelid surgery can effectively address the symptoms of sagging lower lids. An incision is usually placed just below the eyelash line to help hide a fine scar in a natural line. The skin is then carefully lifted and any fat is re-contoured to improve the smoothness of the lower lid.
Recovering from blepharoplasty surgery
After surgery it is imperative that you rest to allow the area to settle. You should take it as easy as possible for the first 2 days post-surgery. Try not to bend over or strain and avoid exercise altogether for these first few days. This ensures that your blood pressure remains stable, reducing the chances of bleeding and subsequent swelling and bruising. As a general rule of thumb, avoid doing anything that would make your face redden during this initial stage of healing. This may range from avoiding hot baths to ensuring you do not exert yourself through lifting, for example. Patients generally experience minimum discomfort after this procedure and healing usually progresses quickly.
After surgery the area will bruise a little reaching a maximum after 48 hours, gradually settling over subsequent weeks. The very fine stitch is easily removed after a week, at which point the eyelids will appear swollen and crepey for a few days. We advise you start gently massaging the incision line with a light eye cream to help soften the scar and speed up the healing process 10 days after surgery. This should be applied with the ring finger, gently working outwards from the nose towards the ear. It is perfectly normal to experience some mild swelling and sometimes, red bumps on each corner of the eye nearest the nose, that will again settle as the weeks pass. Normally, you will need a week off work and will need to avoid vigorous exercise for around six weeks whilst deeper level healing takes place.
After recovering from blepharoplasty surgery, it is important to remember that while any excess skin is permanently removed, the ageing process still progresses. Blepharoplasty surgery does not stop the ageing clock, but rather resets it.
Dos and don’ts when recovering from blepharoplasty surgery
Taking the following steps in the initial days post-surgery will aid the recovery process and ensure optimum results from your procedure:
- Keep physical activity to a minimum and to rest as much as possible. The less you do, the less you will bruise
- Shower if you wish and feel free to wash your hair, but keep your steristrips as dry as possible
- Keep your head up to reduce swelling and sleep with extra pillows to raise your head
- Take Paracetamol as required
Things to avoid whilst recovering from blepharoplasty surgery:
- Avoid bending down, hot baths, heavy lifting and anything else that would naturally cause your face to redden to ensure bruising is minimised
- Do not touch or rub the delicate eye area
- Do not wear contact lenses
Are there any risks associated with blepharoplasty surgery?
All surgical procedures are associated with risks and blepharoplasty is no exception. Your Surgeon will explain these in detail during initial consultation, enabling you to reach an informed decision on whether you wish to proceed. Eyelid surgery is generally very safe and serious complications are uncommon, however patients should be aware of the following complications prior to undergoing the procedure:
- Anaesthesia risks including allergic reaction
- Healing problems
- Loss of blood supply to skin
- Change of the colour of skin
- Bleeding, swelling and bruising
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical assistance:
- Vision problems
- Severe eye pain
- Unusual heart rate
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Blepharoplasty surgery at Coppergate Clinic
To find out more about blepharoplasty and your suitability for surgery, why not book a consultation by getting in touch with our friendly front of house team today.