As we age, it’s normal for the tissues around our eyes to accumulate fat, the skin around the eyelids to stretch, and the muscles supporting the area to weaken. With time, the saggy skin on the upper and lower eyelids can affect your appearance and your vision. For aging people who are beginning to witness these changes, ophthalmic plastic surgery is often an effective solution. But this treatment isn’t limited to cosmetic procedures. It’s also prescribed for people with eye conditions such as ptosis (“toe-siss”) a condition which causes the eyelid not to be open enough or to fail to stay open, and for patients requiring eyelid reconstructive surgery after cancer surgery or trauma. Certain deficiencies in muscle tone or deformation of the eyelids may cause excessive tearing or the opposite, dry eye. Reparative surgeries for these conditions are also in the domain of the ophthalmic plastic surgeon.
What Is Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery?
Ophthalmic plastic surgery is a specialized field of ophthalmology that deals with correcting abnormalities and deformities of the eye socket, eyelids, lacrimal (tearing) system, and the adjacent areas of the face. An ophthalmic plastic surgeon is an eye surgeon who has completed additional training in plastic surgery. Due to the unique complexity of this surgical discipline, the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery admits to membership only those ophthalmologists certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology who have successfully completed a fellowship in this field.
Besides cosmetic procedures for enhancing the appearance of the eyelid and upper face, ophthalmic plastic surgery is used to address bulging of the eyes in overactive thyroid eye disease, autoimmune diseases, and spastic eyelid diseases such as hemifacial spasm and blepharospasm. Botox injection is one option to relax uncontrollable spasmodic muscle activity around the eyes.
Common Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery Procedures
Depending on your eye condition and whether you are offered a cosmetic or reconstructive surgical treatment, your doctor will help you select the right procedure to achieve the health, appearance, and comfort you seek. Here are some of the most common ophthalmic plastic surgery procedures:
- Blepharoplasty – This is a surgical refinement of the eyelids to improve facial aesthetics and vision. Upper blepharoplasty is performed on the upper eyelids to remove excess skin that can obstruct vision. Similarly, lower blepharoplasty may remove excess fat in the lower lids and strengthen weak musculature. Both upper and lower blepharoplasty may, in some cases, not be covered under your health insurance. Your surgeon will inform you if this is the case.
- Eyelid Reconstruction – This option helps treat eye conditions such as droopy eyelids or ptosis, as well as out-turning and in-turning eyelids (ectropion/entropion). Reconstruction is often needed after removal of both cancerous and benign lesions around the eyes.
- Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) – This is a procedure that corrects the existing, or creates a new, channel for drainage of tears from the eye to the nasal cavity. This helps avoid excessive tearing in cases of obstruction within the naso-lacrimal drainage system (NLDS).
- Moh’s Reconstruction – If a cancerous lesion involves the eyelids and surrounding tissue, removal may require extensive loss of tissue and function. The ophthalmic plastic surgeon is uniquely qualified to repair these defects using flaps, grafts, mobilization, and closures to preserve function and maximize cosmetic outcomes.
Get Help With Your Eye Health Today
Your eye health plays a crucial role in your overall comfort and well-being. If ophthalmic plastic surgery is right for you, you expect to receive high-quality and specialized eye care from a qualified and experienced ophthalmic plastic surgeon.
At Pomerance Eye Center, PC, we are proud to have Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeon Mark R. Melson, M.D. on our staff. His credentials are cited elsewhere on this site (Meet the Doctors). If you have an issue you think he might help, we urge you to schedule an appointment with him.