Dry Eyes and Eyelid Surgery

November 27, 2014

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), eyelid surgery remained one of the top five surgical procedures performed in 2013. The procedure was ranked as the third most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in 2013, with 204,000 procedures performed. This was up by 4 percent from the previous year.

Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) is designed to lift sagging upper eyelids, and minimize the appearance of sunken eyes, dark circles, and bags under the eyes. The end result is a fresher, more alert look to the eye area. However, Drs. Marcus Crawford and Steven Bailey caution that patients who are prone to dry eyes should take extra care if considering any sort of cosmetic eyelid procedure.

Eyelid Surgery Procedure

In an upper eyelid procedure, small incisions are made along the natural crease of the upper eyelid. The skin and underling tissue are then gently lifted up and tightened, before being sutured back into place. Excess fat on the eyelids that lends a droopy appearance can also be removed. For a lower eyelid procedure, an incision is made along the lower lash line. Excess fat, which gives the appearance of bags or dark circles under the eyes, is removed.

Recovery from Eyelid Surgery

Initial recovery from an eyelid surgical procedure can take anywhere from two to three weeks. The most common side effects include bruising and swelling around the eyes, as well as dry or irritated eyes. Cold compresses, ice packs, and taking the herb Arnica montana will help reduce the duration and amount of bruising and swelling.

Dry eyes are another common side effect of eyelid surgery. This can result in itchy, red, irritated eyes and insufficient tear production. Prescription or over the counter eye lubricants, drops, and ointments can help alleviate the problem. In severe cases, small silicone plugs can be inserted into the tear ducts on the bottom inside corners of the eyes. This can be done as a quick outpatient procedure, and the plugs will stay in for two to three weeks before dissolving on their own. The use of contact lenses to help protect the eye and keep it lubricated can be another option in severe cases.

What Does the Research Say?

According to a summary of an article published in the January 2013 issue of JAMA Facial and Plastic Surgery, patients who experience dry eyes following cosmetic eyelid surgery often do not report this to their surgeons. Although 27 percent of patients reported dry eyes following the procedure, the lead researcher did note that the condition is generally not serious. The researcher did speculate that an eyelid procedure can temporarily interfere with the eyelid’s natural ability to lubricate the eye with blinking, thus temporarily leading to dry eyes. However, patients who already have dry eyes may not be the best candidates for eyelid surgery.

Drs. Crawford and Bailey recommend that patients who experience dry eyes following eyelid surgery tell them this at the earliest possible follow up appointment. Contact Crawford Plastic Surgery to schedule an appointment with us.


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