Blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery as it's commonly known, is performed to correct droopy upper and/or lower eyelids and under-eye bags. The surgery may be performed for functional or medical reasons. Functional blepharoplasty corrects problems related to upper eyelids that sag or droop enough to cause problems such as a reduced field of vision, trouble wearing glasses or contact lenses, or irritation resulting from excess eyelid skin folds rubbing against each other.
However, blepheroplasty may be performed for purely cosmetic reasons as well. As a person ages, skin and muscles around the eyes sag, and fat pockets become more prominent, giving one an old and tired appearance. The procedure easily freshens up one's appearance and is thus resorted to by aging individuals.
During the surgery, excess skin, fat, and sometimes muscle are removed, modifying the configurations of the eyelids. The operation aims to ensure the best aesthetic and functional results.
Potential complications associated with blepharoplasty
Like all surgeries, eyelid surgery can result in some complications, although serious ones are rare. Following the doctor's pre-surgery instructions to avoid complications is therefore a must. Also important is knowing what to expect for the surgery and afterward, so that one can undertake the necessary preparations.
A common complication associated with blepharoplasty that one should be ready for is blurred vision. Fortunately, the condition is usually temporary.
Blurred or double vision
Having blurred vision post-surgery is usually due to the lubricating drops and ointments administered to your eye or eyes as well as the secretions from your wounds, together with a reduction in your blinking rate.
You will thus be advised to get a lot of rest and avoid activities that will strain your eyes until your vision improves. These activities will include driving and working on your computer, among others.
To monitor blurred vision, check how each eye is performing by looking at objects with one eye while completely covering the other. If you have prescription glasses, use them while checking your vision the same way, one eye at a time. The blurred vision you experience as a result of blepharoplasty is expected to wear off with time. However, if it worsens, check with your surgeon immediately.
Common complications that could arise during or after surgery include:
1. Swelling and bruising around the eye that was operated on
2. Redness or itching (moderating itching is common)
3. Some discomforting pain
4. Reactions to the stitches
Rare but unwanted complications include:
2. Dry eyes
4. Not being able to fully close the eye
5. Ill-positioned eyelids
Should you experience any of the above, see your doctor at once.
The recovery process after surgery
The operation is usually carried out on an outpatient basis, which means you can come in for the surgery and leave on the same day. However, the surgeon will decide on the appropriate option depending on how the patient feels after the surgery. Together with the doctor, you will determine the best environment in which you will recover after the surgery.
Generally, after the surgery, the anesthesia administered will make you feel drowsy and the operated area will be sore for some time. However, when the anesthesia wears off, the drowsiness will disappear, and by that time, much of the pain will have been reduced. By the morning following the surgery, you will be feeling much better. Note, however, that the amount and duration of pain experienced still differs from patient to patient. For some, the doctor will need to recommend prescription drugs for pain.
If your doctor sees it fit for you to be discharged on the same day, make sure that you have someone to take you home. This is because you will not be able to drive as your vision will not be that good. While in the car, elevate your head using a pillow and do not rub your face against the pillow.
When you get home, make sure you get some rest and lie down with your head elevated. Be careful not to rub your eyelids as the stitched wounds, not having healed yet, can easily be pulled apart. If you find it difficult to remember not to rub your eyes, you might want to use a plastic protective eye shield.
What are the tips for a quick recovery after blepharoplasty?
1. You should avoid driving for 24 hours after surgery.
2. Strenuous activities should be avoided.
3. Avoid rubbing, touching, or anything that may put tension on the incision areas.
4. Make-up around the incision area should be completely avoided.
5. Ensure that the wound is clean to avoid infections.
Tips for a quick recovery:
- Make sure that your head is always raised
Raising your head will minimise swelling, which in turn speeds up the healing process. You will be using two to three pillows to support your head while resting, or a foam wedge with a good incline.
- Use ice compresses
Use thin plastic bags and put crushed ice in them. Gently place the cold compress on the areas operated on. This will help reduce the swelling and the soreness associated with the decreasing effect of the anesthesia. Note, however, that ice compresses should be applied only during the first few days after the surgery. After the fourth of fifth day, they become ineffective.
- Use artificial tears
These should be applied as often as possible to minimize discomfort, dryness, and the urge to rub your eyes. You may begin using artificial tears one hour after surgery depending on the instructions given by the doctor. Lubrication through artificial tears also help prevent eye infections and scarring. However, an eye irritation or problems closing your eyes will not be relieved by artificial tears. For these, you should call your doctor who will prescribe you the proper medications.
- Avoid things that put stress on your eyes
During the first week after the procedure, avoid activities that strain your eyes, for example, watching TV, doing sports, or wearing contact lenses.
- Get yourself an eye cover
Before going out of your house, make sure that you have your eye cover on (if only one eye was operated on) to protect the eye from dirt. You can also wear dark sunglasses to protect your eyes from bright sunlight as they will be sensitive after the surgery.
- Wash your eyes every day as directed
The doctor will recommend that you always wash your eyes daily. You should adhere to the instructions on how to wash them and maintain the schedule for washing. This will prevent bacteria and other contaminants from infecting the eye.
- Healthy diet
Eating healthy will ensure a quick recovery. Your diet should be rich in vitamin C and vitamin E, as these promote healing, especially of the skin.
If you were taking certain medications before the surgery, you will likely be allowed to resume taking them after the surgery. However, if there is bruising or bleeding after the surgery, your doctor might not allow you to resume certain medications just yet.
- Give the eye time to heal
You should be in a stress-free environment, since stress slows down the recovery process. Stress will affect the operated-on eyelids and wear them down causing eye irritations or dryness. Therefore, make sure that you are in a comfortable environment and give your eye or eyes time to heal.
Other general things to take note of
You may be allowed to take showers after surgery, but you will have to avoid caffeine-related products until after the first day or two, avoid contact lenses, avoid swimming for two to three weeks until the incisions fully close, and limit your salt intake to prevent water retention.
You should contact your doctor right away if bleeding occurs, when pain or swelling becomes unbearable, or when an incision becomes opened.