While every area of the face will develop signs of aging that can be distressing and affect the aesthetics of the face, the eye area is especially prone to age-related aesthetic issues, including under-eye bags, hooded eyes, and a perpetually tired, disinterested, or angry expression, even when the face is resting in a neutral position.
Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, has become a common and effective cosmetic procedure within the last few decades for rejuvenating the eye area and creating a more youthful, alert, and interested expression. The procedure is surprisingly versatile, which means there are many reasons patients may choose to seek eyelid surgery.
Some patients seek eyelid surgery to remove a double eyelid or improve under-eye bags and fatty deposits that cause a “puffy” appearance. Blepharoplasty can also repair damage to the eyelid caused by an injury, illness or congenital eyelid issues. Other patients just want loose, excess or sagging skin around the eyes tightened to get rid of wrinkles and improve self-confidence.
Blepharoplasty has been performed since the time of the ancient Greeks (the word “blepharoplasty” literally translates to mean “to form eyelid”). Modern eyelid surgery is a very common and safe procedure. In the United States alone, more than 100,000 patients (85 percent of whom are women) have elective eyelid surgery each year.
To start the blepharoplasty process, you will need to have an initial consultation with Dr. Alvarez to discuss your goals for eyelid surgery. During this appointment, he will take a full medical history and some pictures of the eye area. Dr. Alvarez will also make notes and typically make some marks on your photos to indicate the area(s) to be altered. Once you have agreed to his recommendations, Dr. Alvarez will give you specific instructions for self-care before and after the surgery, including any prescriptions you may need to have filled before the date of your surgery. During this appointment, you will also set the exact date of your surgery.
There are few disqualifications for a patient who wants to have eyelid surgery. However, there are a few important circumstances in which Dr. Alvarez may recommend you postpone or decide against eyelid surgery. Dr. Alvarez will take a full medical history to determine whether now is the right time for you to proceed with the surgery.
As with any surgery, candidates should be in excellent physical and mental health. It is important for patients to have realistic expectations about the results of the surgery to prevent disappointment or expectations of perfection.
Pregnant women are not advised to undergo a blepharoplasty. You must not recently had any major work to your face or neck skin as this may interfere on your post-op recovery for these procedures. You should not be taking blood thinners, suffering from a blood disease, or have any autoimmune disorder. Patients should also be able to take anesthesia without any allergic reactions.
The blepharoplasty procedure itself can necessarily vary a bit depending on whether you are having just your upper eyelids, lower eyelids, or both done.
On the day of the surgery, you will need to have someone available to drive you to and from the procedure and, ideally, stay with you the night of your procedure. Dr. Alvarez will speak with you and prep you on what to expect during the surgery process. He will also start making some marks around your eyelids to indicate the areas to be worked on.
Anesthetic will be administered at the start of the surgery via injection or general anesthesia. Dr. Alvarez will then start the eyelid surgery. The total length of surgery depends on the scope of work being done. After the procedure, you will spend some time in recovery. Dr. Alvarez may use surgical tape, sutures or adhesives to close the incision points.
Immediately after surgery, there will be swelling and bruising in the eye area. Patients may experience some mild side effects, including pain/discomfort, dry eyes, or itching near the incision sites as they heal. Any noticeable discomfort or swelling should subside within 48 hours, and pain can be controlled with prescribed medication. Patients should try to keep the head elevated as much as possible for several days to help keep swelling down.
After approximately 7-14 days, patients can gradually resume normal activities such as office work and light household chores. Heavy lifting, exercise, and other strenuous activity will need to be postponed for several more weeks. Patients will see preliminary results in about 6-8 weeks, but should not expect final results until all the swelling has gone down (typically after 6 months or so).
Choosing the Right Surgeon
When choosing a plastic surgeon, your safety and results should be your most pressing concerns. You should only choose a reputable plastic surgeon with skill and experience to help you achieve your goals. It is best to meet with a few different surgeons before you make a decision, as you will have the opportunity to find a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable. This is important, as you will be putting a lot of trust in your surgeon. Take your time and do your research before choosing your plastic surgeon.
Eyelid Surgery FAQs
How long will the procedure last?
The length of the procedure will vary depending on whether you are having just your upper, just your lower or both sets of eyelids operated on. A typical time frame for eyelid surgery is about two hours from start to finish, with additional time for surgical prep and recovery time.
Are there risks?
As with any surgical procedure, there are always certain risks. Your surgeon will cover in detail all the risks of the procedure you are having, including risks that are specific to your individual or family medical history. Choosing a skilled surgeon and caring for yourself properly throughout the process reduces your risk for complications.
The most common risks include the possibility of infection (which is present whenever an incision is made into the skin), dry eyes, scarring, bleeding, an abnormal lid color, inability to fully close lids or even vision loss (which is very rare).
How soon can I return to work?
Because your eye area is likely to be swollen and sore and you won’t be able to drive, you may want to have the procedure on a Friday to get the weekend to rest. Within one week most of the swelling will go down so you can plan to return to work as soon as your surgeon clears you to drive and you feel comfortable around other people.
Does insurance cover eyelid surgery?
Generally speaking, this varies widely by insurer. However, if your insurance does cover eyelid surgery it will likely only cover the procedure for the upper eyelids, as this can be a medical issue, rather than a cosmetic problem. Even if your insurance does not cover the procedure, be sure to ask your provider if there are other options, such as a payment plan, financing or a sliding payment scale.
Will blepharoplasty leave scars?
All surgery produces some scarring, but many of the incisions made during eyelid surgery can be placed in discreet areas, such as inside the eyelid. Because of this, scars should be nearly invisible after healing is complete. Even when incisions are placed in more visible areas, these scars typically fade extremely well over time.
Schedule your consultation with Dr. Alvarez today! Call 305-600-4146 or fill out the contact form in this page.