About 208,000 eyelid surgeries were performed in the United States in 2016. While the operation’s cosmetic effect may appeal more to women (who accounted for 85 percent of the total), both genders cite visual benefits from a procedure that’s enjoyed great success over the two centuries it’s been performed. Blepharoplasty, the medical term for eyelid surgery, is designed to restore the field of vision and leave patients rejuvenated over the function and appearance of the outer body’s most delicate organs.
As skin ages, it loses its elasticity. This, coupled with the natural downward drift of tissue, may eventually result in the skin collecting at the upper and lower lids. As it disturbs the contour of the upper eyelid, the extra skin can interfere with the visual field. Fatty deposits in the eyelids may also form over time, along with a droop to the lower lids that reveals the white below the iris. The fat between the eyeball and the skull can create bulges in the lids as the membrane that holds the fat in place weakens over time.
The surgery, usually performed in an outpatient setting, involves the injection of medication to numb the area and the use of oral sedation to help the patient relax. Upper and lower blepharoplasties can be done at the same time; patients prefer this, as it results in a single recovery period. This procedure usually takes about two hours.
Postsurgical patients are then taken to a recovery room, leaving that day for recuperation at home and returning in a day or two for removal of the stitches. They’ll be asked to curb their normal routines for two or three weeks; full recovery takes about three months. Upper blepharoplasty can last five to seven years, while lower eyelid surgery rarely needs repetition. The physician may recommend a forehead lift if the lids sag again.
The eyes, of course, are part of the patient’s face and arguably the first feature others notice. They are also the body’s major sensory organ, responsible for 80 percent of the intake of information used to form impressions. In both the aesthetic and functional senses, blepharoplasty is among the most useful tools in the pursuit of the highest quality of life.