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What Is Reconstructive Eyelid Surgery?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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Reconstructive eyelid surgery is any surgical procedure which aims to correct deformities or injuries found on or around the eyelid. These may be birth defects, or the surgery may be done on someone who has sustained a serious injury to the eye. Other conditions, mostly affecting the elderly, can also affect the eyes and require reconstructive eyelid surgery. Cancer of the eye where tumors are present may also necessitate surgery.

There are a wide range of conditions which may lead to reconstructive eyelid surgery being necessary. Sometimes an infant will be born with deformities to the face or eyes requiring surgery so that proper function of the eye is possible. Without a functioning eyelid, the eyeball is prone to injury or infection. Eyesight can be affected, so in many cases a congenital abnormality present at birth will be repaired soon after the child is born.

Most other defects occur as a person ages. There are conditions which cause the eyelid to grow away from the eye, to grow inward toward the eye, or to droop over the eye. All of these issues can lead to vision problems and infection if left untreated. Reconstructive eyelid surgery can fix these abnormalities in most cases and prevent any related issues. It is important for any anyone noticing changes in the appearance of the eyelids or in their vision to contact their doctor right away for an evaluation.

Many forms of reconstructive eyelid surgery are quick and can be performed in a doctor's office using local anesthesia. Those who wait too long for surgery may need more invasive treatments to return the eyelids to normal function. Whether or not a patient has to have surgery on an inpatient basis will depend on the exact condition and the severity.

Another situation where reconstructive eyelid surgery might be necessary is cancer of the eye. In some cases, cancerous cells may spread to the eyelid or the cancer may occur as a primary tumor on the inside of the lid. In these cases, the tumors will need to be removed along with surrounding tissue to ensure that the cancer is gone. In most cases, this is a minor surgery and just the cancerous portions are removed with the remaining eyelid left intact. If more invasive surgery is needed, follow-up procedures may be performed by a plastic surgeon to help return the eyelid to a more normal-looking appearance.

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