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Blepharoplasty is a procedure that is performed to tighten the appearance of drooping eyelids by surgically removing excessive amounts of fat, muscle, or skin. Sagginess of the eyelids is generally the result of aging, since the eyelids tend to gradually stretch out. If the eyelids start to stretch excessively, the muscles of the eyelids may begin to loosen and cause the lids to droop. Blepharoplasty may help to restore a firmer appearance to the eyelids, but the procedure also may have serious risks.
One of the most common blepharoplasty complications is numbness affecting the eyelids. For most of the patients, this numbness is temporary and will subside within one week after the surgery. If the eyelids continue to remain numb after the initial recovery period, patients will generally be recommended to contact their doctors.
Other blepharoplasty complications tend to affect vision. A less serious risk after the surgery is blurriness or double vision. Although these effects may be bothersome, they will typically resolve on their own as the eyelids heal from the surgery and are not considered serious. In rare instances, patients may experience permanent blindness after the surgery. Blindness after blepharoplasty is most often the result of bleeding that occurs in the back of the eyes.
Since blindness tends to be the most serious of the blepharoplasty complications, doctors will generally ask for patients’ detailed medical histories prior to the procedure to see if they are at risk for the excessive bleeding that can lead to blindness after the procedure. Conditions that may worsen the complications of the procedure include diabetes, thyroid conditions, and circulatory problems. Some medications may also contribute to bleeding after the procedure. Herbal medications, such as garlic and ginseng, may also put patients at a higher risk of bleeding after the surgery. Aspirin may also increase the chances of bleeding during and after the surgery, so doctors will typically recommend patients not take any aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs prior to the procedure.
There are other precautions patients may take after surgery to decrease their chances of experiencing blepharoplasty complications. Keeping the head propped up above the chest level when sleeping or laying down can prevent fluid accumulation in the eyelids. Patients will also generally be advised by their doctors to not engage in exercise or other strenuous activities in order to prevent the risk of tearing of any stitches on the eyelids. Recovery time for the procedure tends to be one to two weeks. If patients experience any difficulty breathing, changes in vision, bleeding, or irregular heartbeat, they are recommended to seek immediate medical care.