If your eyes are the windows to your soul, what does it say about you if they’re droopy, hooded, or sagging? And since many people notice another person’s eyes first, do you really want yours to broadcast fatigue, anger, or aloofness? That’s what happens when you develop droopy eyelids, whether you want it to or not. But there’s a procedure that can lift your lids and restore a youthful appearance — it’s called blepharoplasty.
At PNW Plastic Surgery in Portland, Oregon, board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Leo Urbinelli offers blepharoplasty for his patients with drooping lids, reducing the sag and uplifting their appearance. Here’s what you need to know.
Ptosis, the medical term for eyelid drooping, is often a consequence of aging. In your youth, your body produces a large amount of collagen and elastin, structural proteins that provide your skin with strength and flexibility. Production of these proteins, however, naturally begins to decrease around age 25; production can also be affected by your environment, such as exposure to cigarette smoke and the sun’s UV rays.
While the loss of these critical proteins leads to fine lines and wrinkles on the face, it’s particularly hard on the skin around your eyes, which is very thin and shows the loss more acutely. Take this together with the constant downward pull of gravity, and it’s inevitable the skin on both your upper and lower eyelids starts to droop as you get older.
Drooping can cause the upper eyelid skin to hang over the eyelashes, obstructing your vision. It also makes the lower eyelid skin bulge and wrinkle, creating tired-looking bags that have nothing to do with how tired you actually are.
Not only are your eyes protected by the skin around them, but you have fat deposits that cushion your eyeball from the facial bones. Unfortunately, the tissue around this fat also loses strength with age, allowing the fat to move forward into both the upper and lower lids and causing them to puff up.
Blepharoplasty is one of the top five cosmetic surgical procedures, according to the American Academy of Plastic Surgeons. In 2018, 206,000 people chose this surgery to correct the effects of aging on their eyelids.
Blepharoplasties are not always just cosmetic enhancements. If your eyelids droop so much that your peripheral vision is impaired, you may need the upper lids lifted to improve your sight. Dr. Urbinelli makes the decision whether to perform a blepharoplasty for medical reasons based, in part, on a visual field test, which determines the amount of your peripheral vision.
You can choose to have eyelid surgery on either the upper or lower lids, or both together. If you’re having both done, Dr. Urbinelli works on the upper eyelids first. After giving you a local anaesthetic in addition to some sedation, so you won’t be in pain, he makes a small cut in the eyelid crease, where the scar won’t be seen. Next, he removes excess skin, fat, and muscle. He may also move some tissues to other points around the eye to enhance your appearance before he sews the incision closed.
Dr. Urbinelli can also perform fat grafting to improve your upper eyelid appearance if you currently have a “hollowed-out” look.
If you’re having a lower lid blepharoplasty, Dr. Urbinelli makes the incision along the lower lash line, which also hides the scar. He can also perform the procedure using an incision on the inside of the eyelid for the same reason. Both give him access to the fat and extra skin that contribute to the puffy, dark undereye circles or deep tear troughs. Then, he tightens the weakened underlying muscles and, once again, may reposition some of the remaining fatty tissue to restore your eye’s youthful appearance.
We give you comprehensive aftercare instructions, but basically, you can go home the same day, and you can expect some swelling, irritation, dryness, and bruising in the next few days. Use cold compresses for swelling and over-the-counter pain relievers for discomfort. Most patients return to their normal activities within a few days, but full recovery can take up to three weeks.
If you’re bothered by drooping eyelids and want to restore your youthful appearance, eyelid surgery might be just the thing for you. Call PNW Plastic Surgery at 503-208-2348 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Urbinelli, or book online with us today. We also offer telehealth visits.