When It Comes to Looks, the Eyes Have It
Eye-opening surgical options
By Elizabeth Anthony
Most of us have heard the old adages “a look is worth a thousand words” and “the eyes are the window to the soul.” What is it about the eyes that make them so powerful? Ancient Egyptians knew the strength they held, ringing theirs in sultry kohl for a feline-like appearance. And Helen of Troy, “the face that launched a thousand ships,” must surely have had a compelling gaze. Picture her gazing out over the Aegean Sea, eyes sad and luminous, hoping that the fleet of Greek ships, bound to take her home, would never arrive. Personally, I can attest to their allure. Falling in love for the first time at 19, I remember thinking of nothing but his eyes for days!
The eyes… poets write about them, painters paint them and lovers look into them. When putting on make-up, we accent them to our best advantage. Yet no one need tell us how powerful are the eyes. We just know. We should. We spend our time looking out of ours and into others every single day!
So what happens when gravity begins taking its toll, making our eyes and the surrounding area less than appealing? Or what if we are just genetically predisposed to issues like hooded brow? Thankfully, through advancements in modern technology, we now have a distinct advantage — namely, cosmetic surgery. Surgical options can help to create a more aesthetically-pleasing eye, giving us the ability to view the world beautifully from our best vantage point.
What is Eyelid Surgery?
Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, is a commonly performed procedure for improving the appearance of upper, lower or both eyelids. Designed to remove excess skin, reduce the fat of the eye area and, in some cases, tighten muscle, it helps to create a more youthful overall appearance. Although primarily a cosmetic procedure, an eye lift can also improve sight in older patients whose sagging upper eyelids obstruct their vision.
You will, of course, continue to age, but the results are usually very long-lasting. Upper eyelid surgery typically lasts anywhere from 5 to 7 years to a lifetime and lower eyelid surgery most often lasts a lifetime. If lids begin to sag again, the procedure that will most likely be needed is a forehead lift.
Eyelid surgery is often performed along with facelifts and/or forehead lifts and is usually performed under general anesthesia, but sometimes under local anesthesia with sedation. Most often performed at a surgical center, blepharoplasty is usually done on an outpatient basis. Typically taking one to three hours, the time will vary depending upon other procedures your doctor may be performing.
What Conditions Can be Treated With Eyelid Surgery?
There are several treatable conditions which may be improved using eyelid surgery procedures including:
• Removal of fatty deposits in the upper eyelids which cause a puffy look
• Removal of sagging skin that disturbs eye contour, sometimes impairing vision, of the upper eyelid.
• Removal of fine wrinkles and excess skin of the lower eyelid.
• Removal of “bags” under the eyes
• Correction of droopy lower eyelids which results in the white of the eye showing below the iris, or colored portion.
Am I a Good Candidate for Eyelid Surgery?
Best candidates are those with realistic expectations and in good physical and mental health. Although typically performed on persons 35 years and up, if baggy lower eyelids or hooded brows are hereditary, you may decide to have surgery even younger.
According to WebMD, “Eyelid surgery can enhance your appearance and help build your confidence. However, it may not result in your ideal look or cause people to treat you any differently. An eye lift will not alter your facial structure. It is important to know your face well before you decide to have surgery. Think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.”
What is the Consultation Like?
Your personal consultation provides an opportunity to interact with your surgeon. This is the time to ask and answer questions. You will be thoroughly evaluated and assessed, including an examination of your face and pictures will be taken for your medical records.
Be prepared to discuss:
• Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
• Expectations and desired outcome
• Available options
• All medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs that you are currently taking or using
• Previous surgical history
How Should I Prepare for Eyelid Surgery?
You will need to have someone drive you home after your surgery. You should also have someone stay with you the night of the procedure.
Have on hand:
• Ice cubes
• Ice packs
• Small gauze pads
• OTC painkillers – most likely Tylenol
How is Eyelid Surgery Performed?
If all four eyelids are being done, your surgeon will most likely work on the upper lids first. After making incisions along the natural lines of your eyelids, the surgeon will separate skin from underlying tissue and remove excess fat, skin, and muscle. Incisions are then closed with small sutures to remain for three to six days.
The lower lids may or may not require sutures depending upon the technique used.
Surgery on the lower eyelids is performed using one of these techniques:
• The transconjunctival technique — by making an incision inside the eyelid. No incision is visible following surgery. Through the incision, fat may be removed to correct baggy lower eyelids.
• The transcutaneous technique – by making an incision along the eyelash margin. Through the incision, excess skin, loose muscle, and fat can be removed. The incision line fades after a short time.
What is Recovery From Eyelid Surgery Like?
After eyelid surgery, you will be instructed to place ice compresses on your eyes for one to three days. You may expect excessive tearing temporarily, especially if you are outside in the wind.
Pain is usually mild and many patients require no prescription pain medication.
Bruising and swelling is to be expected for between three to 14 days. Following skin removal only, you may expect symptoms to last for three to five days. Following skin and fat removal involving tendon tightening, you may expect symptoms to last for seven to 14 days. Constant head elevation and frequent application of ice will help to reduce swelling.
You should be able to return to work within one to three days. Exercise may be resumed in two weeks and you will see full results in two to six weeks. Remember to protect your investment by using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher for the next six months.
What Should I Consider If Planning Eyelid Surgery?
The most important aspect of planning your eyelid surgery is choosing the surgeon. He or she should be well-trained and board accredited. Good patient/doctor rapport is also essential. Be sure to gain a clear understanding of all pre- and post-operational instructions and follow all instructions carefully.
Keep in mind that an insurance carrier will cover this surgery only if the eyelids are drooping to a degree that impairs your vision. Otherwise, it is considered cosmetic. While there are many variables, costs range between $2,000 to $8,000 on average, depending on whether surgery is being performed on top, bottom or both eyelids.
When it comes to looks, the eyes definitely have it. Now you know how to get it. For further information on this and other procedures, contact a reputable cosmetic surgeon.