Over time, our skin stretches, sags, creases, and folds. While it’s a natural effect of aging, it can be a medical problem when it happens to our eyelids. That’s because sagging upper eyelids can severely limit peripheral vision.
Fortunately, there’s help in the form of eyelid surgery. Also known by the medical term "blepharoplasty," eyelid surgery is an outpatient procedure that removes excess tissue and lifts the skin. At Atlantic Eye Center, it’s a procedure done without a knife.
“We use radio frequency to excise the excessive skin, not a scalpel,” explained Dr. Michael Caruso, ophthalmic physician and surgeon at Atlantic Eye Center. “That’s an important distinction because there is little to no bleeding.”
The Causes of Sagging Upper Eyelids
There are several causes of sagging upper eyelids. There may be a genetic predisposition in your family. Sometimes, lifestyle and your environment can cause the problem. For example, people who have worked outside for many years may experience drooping eyelids.
Age is another contributing factor. Over the years, the movements that we make with our eyes - blinking, squinting, and facial expressions - take their toll.
Facial aging starts with “crow’s feet,” wrinkles on the side of the eyes. Then, the wrinkles start to extend across the lower eyelid and into the upper eyelid.
The skin there becomes lax, and the muscles weaken. Eventually, the eyes have a hooded appearance. The lower lids also sag, creating “permanent” bags, causing the person to appear tired.
At first, you may not notice that sagging upper eyelids interfere with your vision. It is a gradual process that happens over time.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Most patients request their lids to be corrected because their eyes look closed and tired. They also are losing their superior visual fields. This is described as hooding.
They may mention that the skin on the upper lid presses on their lashes.
Dr. Caruso will conduct a visual field test “with and without tape.” It’s a map of the peripheral vision using a machine that measures the visual field.
Patients are tested twice, and during the second exam, the lids are taped up, simulating post-surgical results. Dr. Caruso also takes ocular photos of the eyes individually and together.
If the medical diagnosis for sagging upper eyelids is made, the office contacts the patient’s insurance to get clearance for eyelid surgery. Insurance will cover the operation, as long as the problem is interfering with a patient’s vision.
The actual surgical procedure is not lengthy and takes about 20 minutes. Patients are sedated and require transportation home. A certain degree of swelling is normal.
Patients are given an antibiotic ointment and instructions for applying an icepack. They are back to work and their normal activities within a couple of days.
White dissolvable sutures are used minimizing any scarring. There is a post-op appointment five to seven days following the procedure. A second post-op appointment is done to evaluate final results. There is no pain post-op.
When Eyelid Surgery Is Not Recommended
Not everyone is a candidate for eyelid surgery, however. Good health is a prerequisite.
Atlantic Eye Center is located at 207 Stone Harbor Blvd., Court House, NJ 08210. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit www.DoctorMichaelCaruso.com or call (609) 465-1616. You can also find them on Facebook.