The skin around the eyes and eyelids is very delicate and can show signs of aging much sooner than skin in other areas of the face. Blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery, can help you correct drooping upper eyelids, under-eye bags and other eyelid imperfections that exhibit visible signs of facial aging.
During a consultation, one of our surgeons can evaluate the appearance of your eyes and recommend a customized surgical approach that will address your areas of concern for a more youthful, refreshed look. The ultimate goal of eyelid surgery is always to achieve natural-looking results that enhance your appearance rather than change it.
What is eyelid surgery?
Blepharoplasty can target the upper eyelids, lower eyelids or both. While there are typically different concerns in each region that can warrant the desire for aesthetic enhancement, eyelid surgery is generally performed with the goal of rejuvenating the eyes and having a more rested appearance.
An eyelid lift can address several signs of visible aging on both the upper and lower eyelids. Eyelid surgery can include:
- Conservative removal of excess skin
- Removal and/or recontouring of fat deposits
- Tightening of the skin and/or muscles
Facial plastic surgeons, plastic surgeons and ophthalmologists can all perform eyelid surgery. For those who are choosing eyelid surgery for aesthetic reasons, rather than functional purposes, other facial plastic surgery procedures like a facelift or brow lift can be combined to achieve more dramatic results.
Who can have eyelid surgery?
The best candidates for blepharoplasty generally notice wrinkles, loose skin, under-eye bags or other signs of aging in the region surrounding the eyes. In many cases, individuals who benefit from eyelid surgery experience upper eyelid “hooding,” which occurs when the skin of the eyelids hangs on the upper lash line or droops into your line of sight. Upper blepharoplasty can get rid of this excess skin and restore a smooth, firm eye contour – along with improve vision.
Eyelid surgery may not be right for you if you have thyroid problems, dry eye, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, detached retina or glaucoma. Prior to the procedure, your plastic surgeon will evaluate your medical history and may advise you to see an eye doctor for an evaluation, as well.
How does eyelid surgery work?
The technique used for your eyelid surgery will depend on the cosmetic improvements you want to achieve. Your plastic surgeon will explain your surgical plan before the procedure so that you understand exactly what will happen.
For upper eyelid surgery, your surgeon will hide the incision within the natural crease. Excess skin can then be trimmed away to create a smoother contour. For the lower lids, the incision is made either on the inside of the eyelid or along the lower lash line. This incision allows for the removal of under-eye bags, adjustments to musculature and tightening of the skin. An eyelid lift is an outpatient procedure, which means you can return home on the same day of surgery.
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Benefits and risks of eyelid surgery
The cosmetic benefits of eyelid surgery can have a significant affect on your overall facial appearance. With a few small surgical revisions to your eyelids, you can look like a more refreshed and youthful version of yourself. The blepharoplasty procedure can offer:
- A brighter, more energized appearance
- Incision scars hidden in the natural eyelid crease or along the lash line
- Restoration of your natural upper eyelid contour
- Smoother contour above and below the eyes
Complications during or after blepharoplasty are generally rare as long as patients enlist a qualified surgeon to perform their procedure. Nevertheless, eyelid surgery involves the risks that typically exist with all surgical procedures, such as the possibility of infection, poor reactions to the anesthesia, bleeding and skin discoloration. Your surgeon will thoroughly explain the risks of surgery during your consultation and answer any questions you may have.
What happens during eyelid surgery?
Eyelid surgery takes 1-3 hours to perform and is often done with a local anesthetic. Your plastic surgeon will make incisions following the natural lines of your eyelids. Your surgeon will then separate the skin from the underlying tissues and fat, removing any excess and repositioning some of it. When finished, your surgeon will close the incisions with very small sutures.
There are a few different approaches your plastic surgeon may use to perform eyelid surgery:
In the lower eyelids, protruding fat and skin laxity can lead to puffy eyes and under-eye bags that contribute to a tired look. To restore a more energetic and refreshed aesthetic, lower blepharoplasty is recommended to remove and reposition excess fat while tightening the skin and supportive musculature. This can reduce under-eye bags as well as dark circles for a brighter, more rested appearance.
Transconjunctival eyelid surgery is a form of lower eyelid surgery that uses an incision on the inside the lower eyelid. This technique is meant to correct the appearance of eye bags, which are caused by fatty deposits below the eyes. During transconjunctival eyelid surgery, the under-eye bags are removed and repositioned through a tiny internal incision to reveal a smoother, younger-looking eye contour. For the right candidates, the transconjunctival approach can be beneficial as the healing process is often relatively quick and the surgery should not leave any visible scars.
Over time, the skin above the eyes becomes lax and can cause sagging in the upper eyelids. This can create an aged appearance, as well as potentially obstruct vision. Upper eyelid surgery is designed to eliminate the excess skin, restoring a younger-looking aesthetic in the upper face.
After surgery, swelling and bruising around the eyes is common for the first few days. During this time, it is important to ice your eyes and keep your head elevated to promote proper healing. Typically, you can return to work after about 1 week. Our surgeons advise patients to refrain from strenuous activities and exercise for the first few weeks following surgery.
After about 1-2 months, the full results of your procedure will be visible. This estimation can fluctuate, depending on the extent of your eyelid procedure and whether it was performed in conjunction with other surgeries. Many patients report looking younger after their surgery and say they would recommend an eyelid lift to anyone seeking to regain a more youthful appearance. Patients often say that friends and colleagues do not notice they had surgery, instead remarking that they look well-rested, happy and refreshed.
Eyelid surgery FAQ
The results of an eyelid lift are designed to be long-term, with most people enjoying their refreshed appearance for at least 7-10 years. How long your results last will depend on the rate of your unique aging process, as well as whether you pursued upper and/or lower blepharoplasty. Certain measures, such as wearing sun protection and refraining from smoking, can help minimize future skin laxity and prolong your results.
Blepharoplasty may broaden your field of sight if your vision is obstructed by overhanging upper eyelid skin. For some people, eyelid surgery helps them see better. However, eyelid surgery does not make your actual vision any clearer.
While there are many nonsurgical treatments that can refresh the upper face, there is unfortunately no minimally invasive solution to address excess skin around the eyes with the same quality of results as blepharoplasty. BOTOX® Cosmetic can be used to temporarily smooth crow’s feet and other expression lines, and dermal fillers can sometimes hide under-eye bags. But the concerns corrected by an eyelid lift – such as puffy and baggy eyelids, excess skin and upper eyelid hooding – cannot be corrected without surgery.
Blepharoplasty is a cosmetic procedure performed for aesthetic purposes while ptosis repair is designed to treat a medical condition. While the indications for both treatments may look similar, eyelid surgery and ptosis repair are different procedures intended to correct very distinct concerns.
- Blepharoplasty aims to eliminate signs of aging, such as loose, excess skin. Some blepharoplasty patients may similarly achieve a widened scope of vision, but the reason for this is due to the removal of sagging eyelid skin.
- Ptosis is a condition in which certain muscles of the eyes become weakened and fail to fully lift the upper eyelids. This often results in a sleepy appearance, with most people unable to completely open their eyes. Ptosis repair is a procedure typically performed by ophthalmologists to tighten the upper eyelid muscle and restore the ability to properly open the upper lid.
Taking steps, such as nourishing the body with antioxidant- and vitamin-rich foods, keeping the head slightly elevated during sleep, and applying ice packs according to instructions from your surgeon, can encourage swelling to subside as quickly as possible. While some inflammation may linger for a few weeks, most swelling typically diminishes within the first week.
Individuals who normally wear contacts should instead use glasses to see for at least 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. This minimizes the risk of your incisions being touched or re-opened. The amount of time it takes for incisions to heal varies depending on whether you had upper or lower blepharoplasty, but your surgeon will advise you on when you can continue wearing contacts.
Since eye makeup tends to attract bacteria, patients should wait around 2-3 weeks before resuming their makeup routines. It’s important to keep your incisions as clean as possible during the recovery process. Our plastic surgeons will let you know when it’s safe to begin applying makeup again.