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What is Blepharoplasty?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2018
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Blepharoplasty is cosmetic surgery performed on the upper and lower eyelids to reduce sagging and bags under the eyes. Another surgery, sometimes called Asian blepharoplasty, cosmetically provides a crease in the upper eyelids. This surgery was more desirable in the past, to give a "Caucasian" look to the Asian eye. Though still performed frequently, it is not as popular now because many do not feel the need to change their essential appearance even though living in diverse cultures.

Blepharoplasty is most frequently performed on men and women over age 35. As eyes age, the delicate tissue around the eyes begins to stretch and can produce sagging in the eyelid and bagginess below the eye. The surgeon reduces this look by incising at the crease of the upper eyelid and along the line of the lower lid, removing fat or excess tissue from these areas, possibly trimming a bit of muscle, and then closing the incision with tiny stitches. The main objective of the surgery is to give a younger, "fresher" look to the eyes.

The surgery itself takes anywhere from one to three hours and is generally performed with only local anesthesia, so the patient is conscious. Some physicians prefer to use short acting sedatives to perform blepharoplasty, while others use general anesthesia. Recovery time is quicker when the least amount of anesthesia is used.

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Decision on what kinds of anesthesia to use is generally made in reference to the patient's wishes. One may not want to be conscious while having this kind of operation performed on the eye. If the patient is having other cosmetic procedures done at the same time, such as an eye or brow lift, this may be a deciding factor in what types of anesthesia are chosen.

Blepharoplasty is considered outpatient surgery. Most patients go home the same day with prescribed pain medication. The first few days after a blepharoplasty, patients may feel, along with localized pain, a burning sensation in the eyes, runny eyes, sensitivity to light, and itchiness. Physicians may prescribe eye drops to help with these effects. Swelling and bruising are expected, but can be reduced by applying ice over the eyes.

In about two to three days, patients will probably be able to read or watch television. Swelling will gradually dissipate after stitches are removed two weeks after surgery. Most patients can resume normal work and activities in about ten days. Rigorous activity should be avoided for at least three weeks. Sun and wind exposure can be painful initially, so doctors recommend using both sunscreen and sunglasses when outdoors.

Scars from the surgery gradually fade and are usually barely noticeable about six months after a blepharoplasty. Satisfaction with the surgery largely depends on expectations. Patients are screened for psychological soundness, as with any plastic surgery, to make sure they understand both the surgery and the results they can expect.

Though blepharoplasty addresses "older" looking areas around the eyes, it does not change the appearance of wrinkles. Patients who are seeking cosmetic surgery to address all the effects of aging will probably want to consider several other surgeries, such as face or brow lifts, to fully achieve a younger look.

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