Eyelid Lift or Blepharoplasty
What if you could achieve ten years worth of beauty sleep in a single day? This result isn’t fantasy. It is the outcome enjoyed by patients who have an elective surgical procedure called blepharoplasty. Blepharoplasty, which is more commonly referred to as “eyelid surgery,” is a versatile and effective cosmetic technique intended to rejuvenate the eyes.
The skin around our eyes is among the most delicate of the body. As we age, skin throughout our bodies will eventually begin to develop the tell-tale signs of aging. However, these symptoms will appear more aggressively around the eyes and will affect our eyelids. We can quickly start to look much older than we are. As these changes occur, our appearance can begin to affect our mood, confidence and intimate relationships.
These symptoms, which typically appear around the eyes, include fine lines, wrinkles and folds, as well as drooping and sagging skin, resulting in eye bags. Hollows can also begin to develop around the eye, giving the eyes a sunken appearance. The sum of these issues can create a tired, dour or angry expression, which doesn’t express our real personality or emotions.
Blepharoplasty can address all of these physical issues, even completely reversing them in some cases, with lasting results. With an improved eye appearance, you can also once again enjoy complete comfort with your look and greater ease and confidence in social situations. The benefits of eyelid surgery are extensive and far-reaching.
Eyelid surgery, which we will discuss in more detail below, safely excises (or removes) the excess skin and fat that contributes to the most common and visible facial aging problems. It can permanently eliminate and restore a youthfulness expression, which can last years. The procedure is very well-understood, has been performed safely for decades, and is highly-customizable, so you can have precise, tailored results that enhance your natural appearance rather than shout “you’ve had work done.”
We’ll discuss all aspects of this transformative procedure below, so you can arrive for your in-person consultation feeling well informed and make the most of your time with Dr. Haena Kim of HK Facial Plastic Surgery. Relief for your eyes concerns is available and you can have your procedure performed expertly by Dr. Kim to reveal the look you deserve.
Why can’t I stop the effects of aging on my eyes?
You will be much better able to appreciate all the benefits that a blepharoplasty surgery can provide with a solid understanding of the issues which lead to an aged and unwanted eye appearance.
The Critical Role of Collagen and Elastin in the Appearance of Your Eye
When you’re young, your skin looks vibrant for a number of reasons. Many of the factors which contribute to your skin tone, elasticity, hydration and glow occur beneath the surface of the skin. In our early years, cellular structures, called fibroblasts, produce two critical compounds in abundance — collagen and elastin. These natural proteins help your skin in two ways. First, collagen helps your skin build and maintain the structures within the dermal layer that provide the skin with the support that keeps skin laxity at bay. Second, elastin, the other protein produced by fibroblasts, gives your skin its elasticity, helping it stretch and also quickly return its original shape, afterward.
Unfortunately, your skin will not continue to produce these compounds abundantly forever. If you are like most individuals, your body will generate the most collagen and elastin in your mid-20s, with a slow but steady decline of both substances in the years that follow. Of course, your overall health, lifestyle and genetic makeup will play a major role in determining the rate of this process and the outward appearance of your skin. Yet, even if you have inherited great genes and take very good care of yourself, you cannot delay the onset of aging symptoms indefinitely. Eventually, you will see the effects on your skin, especially in and around your eyes.
In the eye area, in particular, you will begin to see looser skin, resulting in fine lines, folds and wrinkles. Also, sagging skin can become an issue, especially in the upper eyelid area, causing this skin to droop. Fallen upper eyelids can not only make you look exhausted and fatigued but also interfere with your vision, in more extreme cases.
One reason for the dramatic effects of aging on the skin around your eyes is the relatively little subcutaneous fat in this skin tissue, coupled with the thinness of this skin. While the thinness of this skin and the absence of fat allows your eyelids to move more easily and freely over your eye, it also robs them of the support which skin in other body areas that has more fat benefits from.
The Impact of Repeated Movements on Eye Skin
Delicate eye skin is also significantly affected by repeated muscle movements much more quickly and visibly than other skin. Natural expressions produced when we smile, laugh or squint, can take a major toll on eye skin and the lines produced can become permanent and deepen. There is very little you can do to prevent this phenomenon from occurring. After all, self-expression is a major function of the eyes!
Early symptoms can be controlled in a variety of ways, however. For example, the most frequently prescribed treatment for mild aging symptoms in the eyes is Botox. But for some, this treatment is not enough, and even if it successfully controls your symptoms, you will need to continue the treatment indefinitely. This is not an ideal solution for many patients.
More Factors That Can Impact Your Eyes’ Appearance
Other factors also contribute to aging in and around the eyes. Some of the biggest influences on the condition of your eye skin include:
- Your genes
- How much sleep you get each night
- How much time you spend in the sun
- Squinting or otherwise straining your eyes
- Allergies, hay fever or sinus conditions
- Thyroid and renal disorders can also affect your eye health, especially if left untreated
Not only does the skin experience this constant stress, but also eye muscles can become weakened and elongated over time, causing additional aesthetic and vision problems. Levator muscles, which will have lengthened due to use and the force of gravity, will simply not be able to lift the eyelids as high as they once did, leaving you with a perpetually sleepy appearance. Fat in this area can also adversely change your look. While fat is often responsible for producing a look that is more youthful, it can shift, creating hollows, and also become more prominent, leading to bulges.
How can eyelid surgery help me restore a beautiful eye appearance?
With so many problems affecting your eye skin and appearance, it is easy to think these issues can be insurmountable. However, blepharoplasty can substantially improve most if not all of the concerns mentioned above — and with safe, long-lasting and very attractive results.
Techniques Used in Blepharoplasty
Eyelid surgery is an extremely versatile surgery that Dr. Kim can customize to each patient’s individual needs and desired outcome. The surgery can be performed to improve the upper eyelid, lower eyelid or both areas, for maximum results. For patients who need or want even more rejuvenation, Dr. Kim can pair your eyelid surgery with complementary procedures, such as a brow lift, for the most comprehensive improvements to the eye area.
Each type of blepharoplasty can be customized even further. For example, if a simple excision of skin will get you your results, you do not need to have fat excision included in your course of treatment. Similarly, fat excision can be performed alone if eye bags are your primary concern. Shortening of the levator muscle can be performed alone, as well. However, invariably, patients will benefit from some excision of skin along with muscle tightening, for best results.
Attractive results are a primary goal of all blepharoplasties. To ensure you have the most satisfying result possible, Dr. Kim will advantageously place your incisions in the naturally-occurring folds of the skin, so that they are concealed and not a factor in your results. While all surgeries involve a great deal of preparation and planning, blepharoplasty is performed as an outpatient procedure and has a relatively short recovery.
Your Eyelid Surgery Options
You will have three primary options to consider when planning a course of treatment to improve your eye area.
Upper Eyelid Surgery
Sagging and drooping upper eyelid skin, while completely natural, can lead to several unwanted problems. Upper eyelid surgery corrects those issues. Excess skin can age you, change your appearance and impair your vision and any one of these problems is sufficient reason to have an upper eyelid surgery. This procedure improves only the upper eyelid, which results in a relatively quick procedure.
During the surgery, Dr. Kim will remove a conservative amount of excess eyelid skin from the upper eyelid, smoothing this feature and leaving behind a very attractive eye contour, often with improved vision. Any hooding you may have struggled with before the treatment will be eliminated. Afterward, you will also retain your natural eyelid crease, which will help conceal the scarring that is the unavoidable consequence of any surgery.
Lower Eyelid Surgery
Sagging skin can also affect the lower eyelid but can be remedied with lower eyelid surgery. Drooping eyelid skin can not only make you look tired but also reveal the white of the eye, in extreme cases, creating an unwanted look and constant discomfort, including dry eyes. This condition can also lead to and exacerbate puffiness beneath the eye, where excess skin, fat and water are increasingly retained. Skillful excision of skin and fat by Dr. Kim can alleviate all of these concerns, returning the lower eyelid to the smooth, toned condition which you previously enjoyed.
Combination Eyelid Surgery
Some patients will require more comprehensive treatment. In these situations, Dr. Kim will recommend they have both procedures for maximum results. Since both upper and lower blepharoplasties are relatively quick procedures, having both will not make your surgery time very much lengthier. Also, having a single surgery will pose less risk than having two consecutive surgeries, although the risk from each surgery is already minimal.
Lastly, having a combined surgery ensures you will have your final results quickly and experience the most improvement possible, with minimal inconvenience. If you are unsure whether or not you require treatment of both eyelid areas, Dr. Kim can suggest a course of treatment based on your in-person examination and her extensive experience treating patients, who may have had similar symptoms to you.
What should I look for when choosing a surgeon for my eyelid surgery?
You will have to make many critical choices when planning your blepharoplasty treatment. Perhaps the most vital selection you make is who will perform your surgery. To help you identify an experienced and qualified surgeon for your treatment, consider the following qualifications for each board-certified plastic surgeon your meet during your selection process.
- How many eyelid surgeries — upper, lower or combined — have you performed this month or this year? Were you the primary surgeon or the surgeon in charge?
- Are you board certified by either the American Board of Otolaryngology in Head and Neck Surgery, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, or both?
- Have you experienced complications during an eyelid surgery, and if so, how did you resolve those issues? The ability to deal with the unexpected is critical to having a sound surgical outcome.
- Can you offer me referrals to past patients who can speak to their experience with you as their eyelid surgeon?
- Can you share with me before and after photos of some of your recent past patients?
An experienced, reputable and qualified board-certified plastic surgeon who will be performing your eyelid surgery should be able to answer all of these questions in the affirmative, as Dr. Haena Kim can. They should also welcome any question you have and provide detailed answers that address your concerns, as Dr. Kim does.
Am I a good candidate for eyelid surgery?
Eyelid surgery is perfect for Walnut Creek patients of any ethnicity who are seeking to reduce the appearance of aging around their eyes. Because the skin on your eyelids is thinner and more delicate than skin anywhere else on your body, it is more susceptible to damage. As you age, not only does the thin skin of your eyelids begin to stretch and lose elasticity, but the muscles that support your eyelids also start to weaken. Most often, candidates are patients whose vision becomes limited due to drooping skin of the upper eyelids. These patients are often told they “look tired” or “look angry” even when they are not, and may have other eye issues, including:
- Dark circles or bags under your eyes
- Excess skin or wrinkles on your eyelids
- Excess skin on the upper lids that droops and interferes with your vision
The best candidates for eyelid surgery are men and women who do not suffer from any pre-existing eye conditions. Patients with an overactive thyroid gland may not qualify for eyelid surgery due to the increased risk of swelling and other problems which may occur around the eyes.
What can I expect during my blepharoplasty consultation?
The first step of the consultation process will be to determine the causes of your symptoms. If natural aging is behind unwanted facial features, a cosmetic procedure will be the best way to address them. However, if you have an underlying medical condition which is producing these problems, you may need medical treatment for these conditions first, ensuring the issue is under control, prior to having cosmetic surgery. Otherwise, ongoing medical problems may compromise the results that your surgery will provide.
After addressing this issue, Dr. Kim will then carefully examine the skin around your eyes and eyelids to determine how much augmentation and rejuvenation will be needed to give you your desired results. Preserving and enhancing your unique anatomical features is always a goal of treatment. The doctor will explain your surgical options to you in detail, describing the entire treatment plan and covering preparation, surgery and recovery. Recovery will be a critical topic during your consultation and pre-operative appointments, since you will be responsible for this aspect of care after your surgery, with Dr. Kim’s support.
You should feel comfortable asking Dr. Kim any question you have at this time. The more informed you are about your procedure, the more at ease you will be beforehand and the more satisfied you will be with your outcome. While you will have ample time during your initial consultation to learn more about your procedure and establish peace of mind, do not hesitate to schedule a follow-up consultation if you have more questions or other concerns. Ultimately, you should feel completely confident in your choice to have surgery and Dr. Kim will do everything she can to help you make the most informed decision possible.
What will happen on the day of my procedure?
In order to excise the necessary amounts of skin and fat safely from your eyelids and reposition your fat, if necessary, you will need to have either sedation or general anesthesia at the onset of your surgery. Dr. Kim will recommend the best option for you based on the extent of your treatment but either option will keep you comfortable and ensure your safety.
Blepharoplasty is performed as an outpatient procedure and you will not be able to drive yourself home afterward. Before you can have your surgery, you will need to arrange for transportation to and from the surgical center, for your safety. This and all other requirements for surgery will be addressed during your consultation and pre-operative appointments.
Once you have been prepared for surgery, Dr. Kim will then cleanse the surgical areas and mark the skin where she will place your incisions, taking great care to ensure that scarring will be hidden by the natural folds of the skin. After verifying the placement of your incisions, Dr. Kim will begin the process of excision, fat repositioning and muscle tightening that your results will require.
In the case of a lower eyelid surgery, Dr. Kim will place your incisions in your lower lash line to conceal them adequately. Dr. Kim will usually perform your upper eyelid surgery first followed by your lower eyelid surgery if this is needed. In rare cases, however, she may reverse this order. Your surgeon will close your incisions, after all necessary augmentation has been completed, with sutures.
Your entire surgical procedure will take between one and three hours to perform. The exact timeframe will depend on whether or not you are having both the upper and lower eyelids treated. You will be asked to remain in the surgical center for a few hours after your surgery, for monitoring by Dr. Kim, before you will be cleared to go home. Complications are very rare, so this measure is strictly precautionary.
What can I expect during recovery from eyelid surgery?
Recovery after eyelid surgery usually takes one to two weeks, after which time patients may return to work and any other non-strenuous activities. Mild discomfort, swelling, and bruising are common the first week or two after surgery, and most patients feel confident returning to their public and social lives in a week or so. Dr. Kim speeds up her patient’s recovery time and reduces bruising or swelling by recommending oral vitamin C, topical arnica and ice during the recovery process. Detailed postoperative and aftercare instructions will be provided to each patient prior to surgery.
What results can I expect from eyelid surgery?
Your final results will appear within two to three weeks after surgery and these results are considered long-lasting. Your results will include substantial improvement to all of the symptoms for which you sought treatment. You will enjoy smoother eyelid skin, a more open eye area and minimized hooding, puffiness and eye bags.
Most importantly, you can enjoy a more youthful appearance which preserves and enhances your natural features. You will not look overdone but refreshed. Your eyes will continue to age naturally, however. In the future, you can expect that some sagging will again occur over time. These changes will be very gradual, however, and will not affect your ability to enjoy the dramatic improvements to your look now.
Visit Dr. Haena Kim for eyelid results that draw attention to you — not your procedure
If you notice that your eyelids are sagging or that you have chronic undereye bags, making you look older or adversely affecting the function of your eyes, an eyelid lift may be the solution for you. Call HK Facial Plastic Surgery today at (925) 891-4135 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kim.
Frequently Asked Questions
All surgeries have risks and this includes eyelid surgery. Risks explicitly associated with eyelid surgery include bleeding, swelling, temporarily blurred vision, dry eyes, slight asymmetry and ectropion, where the lower eyelids turn out slightly. While these complications are possible during eyelid surgery, they are very uncommon, especially when you select a highly trained and qualified board-certified plastic surgeon to perform your surgery.
Yes, scarring is a natural result of any surgery, including eyelid surgery. However, Dr. Kim will make all efforts to conceal your scars within the natural folds of the skin to ensure you enjoy very attractive results after surgery. In addition, all scar tissue will naturally fade over time, further enhancing your results. Due to the fine nature of the incisions, it is not uncommon for scar tissue to be almost imperceptible in time.
It is perfectly natural to worry about pain after surgery in this very delicate area of the body. However, you will not feel any pain during your procedure, since you will have adequate amounts of sedation or anesthesia prior to surgery. After surgery, you will experience some tenderness but you will be able to manage that effectively with prescribed pain medications. As a result, discomfort will be mild. Swelling, which contributes to sensitivity in this area, can also be easily managed during your recovery.