In general, the skin around the eyes — particularly the skin in the eyelids — is thinner than elsewhere in the body. And, as you get older, skin loses moisture, volume, and elasticity as the middle support layers produce less collagen and elastin. When you combine these factors with excess skin and gravity, this can result in sagging eyelids, which can create a permanent tired expression.
To many people, this sounds like a cosmetic issue. And while it’s true that eyelid surgery — medically known as blepharoplasty — can restore an alert and awake appearance, in some cases, it’s medically necessary to perform this procedure, because drooping eyelids can interfere with vision.
If drooping eyelids are hindering your ability to see well, facial plastic surgeon Alexis Furze, MD, can help. As a blepharoplasty specialist, Dr. Furze deals with both the aesthetic and functional aspects of eyelid surgery, maintaining the integrity of your eyesight while improving the overall appearance of your eyes.
The scope of eyelid surgery
Eyelid surgery can be done on the upper eyelids, lower eyelids, or both. Upper lid blepharoplasty deals with drooping. This happens primarily because of changing skin conditions, but eye muscles can also detach, increasing the severity of the droop. Your eyebrows can sometimes contribute to eyelid drooping as well.
Lower lid blepharoplasty addresses bagginess under the eyes. This type of eyelid issue doesn’t contribute to eyesight issues and therefore is exclusively a cosmetic procedure. Surgery to address cosmetic issues typically isn’t covered under most health insurance plans. However, if upper eyelid drooping affects eyesight function, there’s a better chance that health insurance will cover the procedure.
When eyelids interfere with vision
The effects of drooping eyelids can vary between people. One common functional issue starts when the upper eyelids push down on the eyelashes. This can encroach on the upper part of your vision.
If excessive skin drooping affects the outer sides of your eyes, your peripheral vision can be compromised. You may lose awareness of activity and motion on the extreme right and left sides of your body.
Drooping of the upper eyelids is called ptosis, while excess skin at the side of the eyes is called dermatochalasis. There are a variety of treatments available that can help you see better.
Types of eyelid surgery
When dermatochalasis causes visual blockages, blepharoplasty surgery typically combines the removal of excess skin with the reshaping of fat. Dr. Furze usually makes incisions along the creases of the eyelids to hide any resulting scars.
When vision problems originate with ptosis, the most common surgery is called levator advancement, in which Dr. Furze tightens the connection between the eyelids and the muscles that raise the lids.
Other types of eyelid surgeries include:
- Mullerectomy, in which the eyelid muscles are shortened
- Frontalis sling method, which helps those whose eyelid muscles have impaired function
- Silicone prosthesis procedure, which connects the upper eyelids with muscles near the eyebrow for improved lift
When you see Dr. Furze, he’ll give you a thorough evaluation, and, if needed, he can discuss the type of surgery that may be able to help you. To learn more, call 949-389-6673 to book an appointment with the practice of Alexis Furze, MD, today. His practice is in Newport Beach, California.