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Blepharoplasty: is it Worth It?

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 8 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Blepharoplasty Cosmetic Surgery Eyes

When considering any cosmetic surgery - to decide whether it is worth it, you need to consider the risks of the operation as well as the financial cost. Your expectations are also important. Going into a cosmetic surgery procedure with unrealistic expectations will only end in disappointment. Having a blepharoplasty may improve the appearance of your eyes and the overall look of your face, but it won’t change your personality or job prospects.

What Does Blepharoplasty Involve?

Blepharoplasty is cosmetic surgery on the eyelids and around the eyes. It aims to reduce the signs of ageing by solving problems such as hooded upper eyelids, wrinkles and crow’s feet around the eyes, and the baggy, saggy look that many people develop as they get older. Bags under the eyes and dark circles can be improved after a blepharoplasty.

The surgery itself is not a minor procedure. It is always done under a general anaesthetic and it can take as long as three hours. The timing depends on what you have done and also on the skill of the surgeon. It is possible to have work on your upper or lower eyelids only, or on both during the same operation.

Upper Eyelid Blepharoplasty

Incisions are made following your natural contours and lines so that the scarring that will inevitably occur will be minimal and will be as unnoticeable as possible. The surgeon uses fine instruments to cut away excess skin tissue and fat but leaving the muscles that support the eyelid and that allow eyelid function intact. Very fine stitches are used to close the wound and when you wake up your eyelids will be taped closed to stop you moving your eyelid as you blink.

Lower Eyelid Blepharoplasty

The objective with this cosmetic surgery is the same – fat and loose skin removal – but the cuts that the surgeon makes are often inside the eyelid, below the eyeball, so that there is no visible scarring. All of the work is done from the inside. Dissolvable stitches are usually used so that these simply disappear as the tissue heals, and do not need to be removed.

The Financial Cost of Blepharoplasty

The cost varies from surgeon to surgeon and between clinics and also depends on whether you have an upper eyelid procedure or lower eyelid procedure done independently. The costs in the private healthcare sector in the UK range from £1700 for a partial blepharoplasty to nearly £5000 for a complete blepharoplasty. This price will include the operation, an initial consultation, all the aftercare and usually a night or two in hospital.

After Eyelid Surgery

After you have had eyelid surgery your eyes will feel very sore and the tissue around the eyes will be swollen and perhaps bruised. You must not take aspirin for pain relief, as this increases the chances of internal bleeding that could affect the result – paracetamol or ibuprofen are fine. Recovering from the anaesthetic takes a couple of days and you will need to rest for several days. With care – not wearing makeup, contact lenses and keeping the tape on to support your eyelids – most people get back to normal in about 10 days, although the redness around the eyes can take several weeks to disappear.

What are the Risks?

As with any operation done with a general anaesthetic there is a small risk that you will develop complications due to the anaesthetic itself and need emergency treatment or resuscitation. Things can also go wrong with the surgery or during the recovery or healing process. Your eyes can feel sore in the short term but some people find that the itching, dryness, watery eyes or light sensitivity lasts for quite a time – in some cases, a couple of months. Some people have more scarring than others and it is possible for the operation to make your eyesight blurred.

Worse still, you can experience bleeding under the skin and if this is really severe, you may need another operation to stop it. Sometimes the eye muscles themselves are damaged, particularly with lower eyelid procedures, and this will stop you moving your eye properly. Bleeding can also happen at the back of the eye, leading to blindness. These severe complications are rare – but they have to be considered and you will accept the possibility that they can happen when you consent to have the surgery.

Is Blepharoplasty Worth It?

This is very much personal opinion. Some people would rather look older than go through major eye surgery while others think that the risks and high financial cost is well worth it.

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