By Miss Vickie Lee, Oculoplastic Surgeon
Today every area of the body has its own experts and the eyelids are no exception. This is a very delicate and complex area that requires a special set of skills.
Oculoplastic or ophthalmic plastic surgeons are ophthalmologists (specially trained eye doctors) who have reached a high level of proficiency in dealing with eyelids. They start with many years of training as an eye surgeon. They then undergo advanced training, specialising in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the delicate and complex anatomy and function of the eyelids and the surrounding structures. This includes the tear duct system and the orbit (the bony cavity around the eye).
Can other surgeons do eyelid surgery?
There are a number of different surgeons who may perform cosmetic eyelid surgery, including Plastic surgeons, ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) surgeons and Maxillofacial surgeons. However only oculoplastic surgeons are have undergone many years of ophthalmic training to manage the complications that involve the eye itself.
An Oculoplastic surgeon would aim to achieve the correct balance between a good aesthetic outcome and safeguarding the vision and comfort of your eyes.
What can go wrong with eyelid surgery?
The eyelids are complex delicate and mobile structures. The eyelid skin is the thinnest in the body , The muscles in the eyelid open and close to allow clear vision and maintain ocular comfort and protection. The eyelids also form an integral part of facial expression.
Even minor complications from eyelid surgery can cause blurred vision; watery or dry gritty eyes; incomplete eyelid closure; corneal abrasions (scratches to the surface of the eye); bruising or bleeding behind the eye; wound infection; a sunken appearance when too much tissue has been removed; asymmetry and scarring.
Many of these complications can also affect the vision in the eyes. It is the oculoplastic surgeon’s first priority to avoid these complications and to treat them appropriately if they occur.
What types of surgery can an oculoplastic surgeon perform?
An important part of the oculoplastic surgeon’s function is to undertake a thorough assessment of what can be achieved – and to manage the patient’s expectations.
The surgeon can recontour and lift the eyelids (ptosis correction and blepharoplasty), correct malpositioned eyelids (in ectropion/entropion), removed benign or malignant eyelid lesions, assess and treat watering and irritable eyes, and deal with the effects of thyroid eye disease.
In cases where the eye has been lost, an oculoplastic surgeon can improve the appearance of the eye socket so that the artificial eye looks more natural.