The skin and tissue around the eyes is some of the most delicate on the body. Naturally thinner than other areas, the eyelids may show the signs of aging at a relatively early age. Sometime around mid life, many adults notice that their upper eyelids start to look heavier and looser. As the skin continues to weaken due to lack of collagen and elastin to keep it firm, the eyelids may drop further and further toward the lash line. In time, skin can obscure the field of vision. Functional blepharoplasty is an eyelid surgery that can resolve this issue.
What are some of the reasons an individual would choose eyelid surgery?
Blepharoplasty is often done to improve the appearance of the eyes. Hooded eyelids can make the face appear less friendly and more fatigued. At Wilkinson Eye Center, our primary reason for performing eyelid surgery is to improve a person’s vision. Loose, sagging skin can encroach upon the field of vision to such a degree that life looks darker. Some people have difficulty reading labels or street signs, or generally feel uncomfortable because of the laxity of their eyelids. Functional blepharoplasty improves vision, comfort, and appearance all at once.
Will eyelid surgery fix my peripheral vision?
Yes. If peripheral vision is blocked or impaired by loose eyelid tissue, surgery can correct the issue. The doctor performs a thorough examination of the eyelids as well as vision itself to ensure that the disruption to peripheral vision or central vision is indeed caused by skin and not an eye condition like glaucoma.
How long will I need to recover?
The three main aspects of eyelid surgery recovery are swelling, bruising, and incision healing. It can take 2 to 3 weeks for bruising to resolve. Swelling can take up to 8 weeks for full resolution, and the incisions heal over several months. After a short time, incisions may turn from red to pink, and they gradually fade to an imperceptible flesh-tone from there on.
In general, we look at the recovery for eyelid surgery as a 2 to 3 week process. Patients are advised to follow their post-operative instructions very carefully so that their healing can be expedited.
- In addition to taking time off work, patients should take a least a few days away from their normal household duties as well. If necessary, they should have someone cover their primary responsibilities, such as childcare or driving kids to and from school, for about one week.
- Self care can help the healing process along. Patients should take care in cleaning their eyelids after surgery, can apply ice packs to reduce bruising and swelling, and should strictly avoid smoking.
- Sleep is essential to healing. Patients may feel somewhat fatigued for a week or so after surgery. It is important not to push through, but to nap and sleep when needed.
- When going out or in high-light areas, the patient should wear dark sunglasses to protect healing skin and light-sensitive eyes.
- Strenuous activities of all kinds must be avoided. The eyes should also be given time to rest. Patients should refrain from using screens, reading, and watching television for about a week.
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What side-effects will I experience after the surgery?
Temporary side effects that are common after blepharoplasty can include:
- Blurred vision, which may be caused by the lubricating ointment applied to help healing
- Sensitivity to light
- Numb, puffy eyelids
- Watery eyes
- Swelling or bruising
- Slight pain or discomfort
How is Functional Blepharoplasty Different than Cosmetic Eyelid Surgery?
The most common form of eyelid surgery most people know is cosmetic eyelid rejuvenation. The procedure is referred to simply as blepharoplasty or, sometimes, as cosmetic blepharoplasty. Cosmetic eyelid surgery is performed by a plastic surgeon. It is done to improve the appearance of the eyes and face. This is in stark contrast to functional blepharoplasty, which is performed to correct an issue that could affect vision or health.
The goal of functional blepharoplasty is first to improve your vision. Your appearance may improve as a byproduct, but that is not the primary objective. The functional eyelid surgery procedure usually focuses on the upper eyelids. This is because excess tissue on the upper eyelid can droop into the field of vision. This sagging skin may create irritation due to friction or may make it difficult to wear contact lenses or glasses.
Does Insurance Cover Functional Blepharoplasty?
Most cases of blepharoplasty are not covered by insurance. However, that is because most blepharoplasty procedures are performed for cosmetic reasons. If you suspect that you may be a good candidate for functional blepharoplasty, schedule a consultation with us. Your medical insurance company will likely have requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for coverage for at least part of your overall treatment plan. Typically, these requirements include sufficient documentation from an eye care professional. Here at Wilkinson Eye Center, we are thorough in our intake and examination for all eye problems, including excess tissue on the upper eyelids. We are familiar with cases like yours and are meticulous in our measurements and documentation related to your examination. If needed, we are happy to submit additional information to your insurance company to prove medical necessity.
When Will I See the Results of My Blepharoplasty Procedure?
You can expect to see the results of your functional blepharoplasty procedure on the same day you have your surgery. Your eyes may look swollen and red or bruised, but the skin that had been drooping over your eyelashes will be gone. Your surgical side effects will gradually fade as inflammation resolves. This allows you to notice continued improvement day after day. While the majority of tissue recovery occurs during the first two weeks after surgery, it can take a full six weeks for the final results of your procedure to become evident. It can take a full year for your surgical scars to fully mature. However, the tiny incision scars tend to fade nicely within several weeks.
Are the Results of Functional Blepharoplasty Permanent?
One of the reasons blepharoplasty is such a popular procedure is that it achieves long-lasting results. Depending on your age at the time of your procedure, you may enjoy your functional blepharoplasty results indefinitely. You may also notice that the skin around your eyes starts to loosen slightly five to 10 years after your procedure. Even with the ongoing effects of aging, you may remain very happy with your appearance and eyelid function for many years after having functional blepharoplasty. It is unlikely that you'll need to have the surgery repeated at a later time.
How Soon Can I Return to Work?
Patients may go back to work after one to two weeks of recovery. Generally, it is possible to go back to work as one feels cosmetically comfortable. Patients should keep in mind, as well, that they will need to wear dark sunglasses in high light areas as well as outdoors. Their comfort level wearing this accessory should also be taken into consideration when planning the return to work.
How Painful is the Procedure?
The eyelids are a sensitive area. It is understandable that patients may worry that their eyelid surgery will be painful. The use of local or general anesthesia for this procedure numbs the area around the eyes, so patients do not feel any pain. The doctor may prescribe pain medication to take for a few days so that unnecessary discomfort can be avoided.
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Wilkinson Eye Center is proud to serve Clarkston, Lake Orion, Rochester, Troy, White Lake, Fenton, Waterford, Auburn Hills, Pontiac, Bloomfield Hills, Keego Harbor, West Bloomfield, Birmingham and all of Metro Detroit. Contact us at (248) 334-4931 to learn more about eyelid surgery.