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Ay, Ay, Eye! Are Eyelid Lifts Safe?

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If you follow news about cosmetic procedures, you may have caught the buzz last week generated by the story of a woman who is suing her plastic surgeon for leaving her unable to close her eyes. Indeed, that’s a pretty scary outcome of eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty.

Electing to have a scalpel anywhere near your eyes is frightening enough to begin with. Now that this New Jersey woman can no longer blink, should you forget about that eyelid surgery you were considering?

Of course, any decision about a cosmetic procedure is entirely up to you. But in the right—read: “experienced and credentialed”—hands, blepharoplasty is usually very safe and involves a fairly easy recovery. In addition, it offers pretty good bang for the buck, as rejuvenation procedures go. That’s why the procedure ranks number three in popularity for both men and women, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, with almost 150,000 patients choosing it in 2009.

Is the Procedure Right for You?

If your upper eyelids droop to the point where you feel you always look tired, old or even angry, blepharoplasty may be a good choice for you. If the droopy skin invades your field of vision, your insurance company may even cover the surgery.

Blepharoplasty can be performed on lower lids as well. In this case, the complaint is usually chronic puffiness that can be attributed to loss of skin elasticity, and/or dark, sunken areas below the eyes.

How is Blepharoplasty Performed?

In upper eyelid surgery, the surgeon removes an ellipse of skin along natural eyelid fold lines, meaning scars will be almost completely invisible. Lower lids are usually approached from the inside, where small amounts of fat can be removed through tiny incisions. In some cases, fat is re-positioned to fill in hollows. If there is excess skin, a small amount can also be removed from the lower lids.

What is Recovery Like?

There is usually little pain associated with eyelid surgery. Most patients experience dry, scratchy eyes for a day or maybe two. You can expect bruising, due to the delicate skin in the area, and probably some puffiness. Most people find they are ready to go out in public (often with makeup) within about a week or a little longer.

What Do Real Patients Say?

To read unedited, unbiased reviews of blepharoplasty, visit www.realself.com/Eyelid-Surgery/reviews. You’ll find that about 70 percent of patients are pleased with their results, and the average cost of surgery is in the neighborhood of $4200. Not a bad return on investment.

Should You Take the Plunge?

Still can’t get the idea of not being able to blink out of your head? Know this about the patient in New Jersey—she chose to have blepharoplasty of her upper lids four times. Four times! It’s not uncommon for patients to have repeat plastic surgery, but you usually hear about it when women replace breast implants, or a patient needs revision surgery of some kind. Electing to have skin removed skin from the upper eyelids four separate times is unheard of.

If you’ve been thinking about eyelid surgery, the best thing to do is research. First, research the procedure on the Internet until you feel you know just about everything you could possibly know about it. Pay special attention to the risks involved—you can find a good discussion of them here:


Then, search for board certified plastic surgeons or facial plastic surgeons whose websites indicate that they perform many eyelid surgeries each year. Interview several, ask pointed questions, make sure you get a thorough look at possible risks, seek references, then decide.



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EmpowHER Guest

When a woman hung up on her looks and a wad of money is knocking on your door, conscience and good decision literally go out the window.


March 31, 2011 - 11:57am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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