Cosmetic Eyelid Surgery - Cosmetic Surgery Guide

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Cosmetic surgery procedures have increased in popularity over the last couple of decades with many people choosing to have corrective surgery to enhance their appearance. Face lifts and brow lifts are well known procedures that are performed on the face but cosmetic eyelid surgery is actually the most common form of invasive surgery for the facial area. Women usually undergo the procedure, although there are a number of men that also opt for the surgery. It is also usually carried out on patients in the 5th decade of life although you can have the surgery at any stage as long as you are suitable.

Cosmetic eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty as it is known in the medical world, removes skin, fat and even muscle from the eye areas. By doing so, it removes any skin, fat and tissue that is making the eyes look tired or droopy, and therefore making the facial features appear healthier. This excess skin, muscle or fat has appeared in the area due to a number of factors that have caused the skin to lose its elasticity. Once this has happened, the fat can bulge into the eyelids and create a drooping appearance. A number of people undergo blepharoplasty in order to enhance their physical appearance as the surgery can make the eyes look fresher and more alert than before. Some people also undergo the surgery in order to improve vision, as the hanging skin of the eyelids may impede vision.

The eyelid skin is one of the finest parts of skin that covers the body; therefore a skilled surgeon is needed to ensure that the procedure is carried out correctly and successfully. Look for a board certified surgeon with plenty of experience and make sure that you understand what the procedure will actually do to your physical appearance. It is important that you understand what the results will be so that you don't have unrealistic expectations about your surgery.

The cost of cosmetic eyelid surgery is rarely carried out under the NHS so you will need to pay privately for the procedure, a price that can range from £1000 to £4000. This price will vary depending on your surgeon and the amount of work that you are undergoing. The procedure will create long-term effects around the eyes as you are physically removing the skin, tissue or fat that is causing the appearance. However, age and other factors such as smoking or lack of rest will continue to change the area so it is important that you have a good diet, do exercise and rest well.

Before undergoing eyelid surgery

Before undergoing the actual blepharoplasty, you will require a consultation with the cosmetic surgeon who will be performing your procedure. During this consultation you will have your vision examined as well as your eyelids and retina. You should also be asked questions about your medical history and any medication that you may have taken in the past or at present as these may have implications on the surgery.

The surgeon will take the time during this consultation to tell you how to prepare yourself for undergoing the surgery. This advice may be lifestyle changes such as adapting to a healthier diet or quitting smoking. This is done to aim to increase healing time. This is especially important in terms of smoking as this practice inhibits the healing process and will lengthen recovery time and make you more prone to infection. During the consultation you may be required to have tests to examine aspects such as your blood pressure and your heart rate.

On the day of your surgery, your surgeon will normally talk to you about any last minute questions you may have. They may also remind you of the risks associated with the procedure to ensure you are completely committed. You will then be required to sign a form giving your full consent to the procedure. This will legally state that you have a total understanding about the risks and benefits related to your cosmetic surgery. It will also state that you have been informed of the alterative possibilities. During this time, the surgeon may also choose to take photographs of your eyes so that the before and after photos can be compared.

The Procedure

Depending on the procedure and the surgeon, your eyelid surgery will generally last somewhere between one to three hours. The surgery may be performed with a laser or with a more traditional technique.

Upper eyelid surgery involves the surgeon making incisions along the natural creases and lines that are apparent in your eyelids as well as in crow's feet (wrinkles that appear in the corner of the eyes with age). Alternatively, during lower eyelid surgery incisions will be creates just underneath the eyelashes as well as along the small "laughter lines" that appear in the corners of the eyes. The reasoning behind the surgeon cutting along natural lines is simply to minimise the appearance on post-operative scarring.

Once the incisions have been made, your surgeon will then remove any extra muscle, skin and fat that are present. The surgeon then employs a fine thread to stitch the cut areas. Ointment is then applied to keep the area moist and then sterile tape is applied to hold the stitches in position.

After the surgery

It is important that you stay relaxed and rested until the general anaesthetic has entirely worn off. During this time, you may start to experience pain, which can be remedied with medication. Once you feel able to move and are comfortable, you will be allowed to going back to your home environment to recover so long as you have someone else to provide transport and that there will be another person with you for the 24 hours after your procedure.

When you feel up to leaving the hospital, you will be informed about how to take care of your eyes. This advice may be accompanied with the administration of eye drops to keep your eyes as clean and sterile as possible to ward off any infection. You will also be needed to book a follow up appointment so your recovery can be monitored.

The stitches in your eyelids are done with either a dissolvable or a non-dissolvable thread. The dissolvable version means that the stitches will disintegrate within ten days, whereas the non-dissolvable thread required physical removal within five days of the surgical procedure. Once the stitches are gone, you may still require paper tape to hold the incision areas together and provide the appropriate support to your eyelids.

To deal with the swelling that often appears, you can apply a cold compress. This should aid in reducing the amount of bruising and swelling. However, you should not apply any ice directly to the skin as it may cause damage. If you use ice as a compress, you should wrap it in a towel first.

There are a number of points of advice that can help speed up the recovery process including:

  • Keeping your head in a raised position for around three days after your cosmetic eyelid surgery. This can be done to aid the swelling and bruising reduction process.
  • Gently clean the eye area with plain, cool water.
  • Ensure that you use any medication or drops that the surgeon gave you exactly by the instructions given with them.
  • Avoid wearing makeup around your eyes until your surgeon or nurse says that it is ok.
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses. If you do so on a regular basis, try sticking to your glasses.
  • Until your vision is completely back to normal, you really should avoid driving.

Risks of cosmetic eyelid surgery

For the most part, cosmetic eyelid surgery is a safe procedure that is routinely performed. Despite this, there are potential side effects and complications that you should be aware of before committing yourself to undergoing the procedure.

Potential adverse effects associated with cosmetic eyelid surgery include:

  • Localised bruising, swelling and pain.
  • Either dry eyes or watery eyes. Both can last a number of weeks.
  • Heightened level of sensitivity to the natural environment, especially bright light and the wind.
  • Blurry vision, which often improves within days.
  • Scarring, although this can ease over time.

Other risks related to the cosmetic procedure are problems that are associated with the actual surgery or just after it. These are rare but may include:

  • Eyeball or muscle injury.
  • Haematoma: this is when there is some bleeding under the skin. This can vary in severity and may require an operation resolve.
  • An asymmetrical appearance of the eyes, which may require a subsequent operation.
  • Your lower eyelid may be pulled away from the eye as a result of swelling, although this is often relieved in a matter of days.
  • The new found tightness of the eyelids can hinder your ability to close your eyes, although as the skin relaxes over time, this should improve.
  • A serious complication is that bleeding may occur behind the actual eyeball. This can cause pressure to form of the optic nerve, which may result in blindness.

You should note that you are more vulnerable to suffering complications if you have issues such as heart disease or a high blood pressure. Therefore, it is vital that you disclose such information to your surgeon during your initial consultation.

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