Eyelid Surgery: Before Your Surgery

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What is eyelid surgery?

There are two types of eyelid surgery. You may have one or both types of surgery. These surgeries can be done on one or both of your eyes.

Surgery for ptosis lifts droopy upper eyelids. Ptosis (say "TOH-sus") is the name for eyelids that droop. The eyelid muscles or tendons do not work as they should. This can affect your vision and your appearance. It can be caused by aging, nerve or muscle problems, eye surgery, or an injury. You can be born with this problem, or you can get it later in life.

The doctor makes a small cut in the crease of your upper eyelid. The cut is called an incision. The doctor then lifts the eyelid by tightening the muscle that raises your eyelid. In rare cases, the muscle is too weak to tighten. In that case, the doctor will connect your forehead muscles to your eyelid muscles. After fixing the problem, the doctor closes the incision. Minor cases may not need a cut in the skin.

Blepharoplasty (say "BLEF-uh-roh-plass-tee") is surgery to remove baggy, extra tissue on your upper or lower eyelids. In most cases, this extra tissue forms as you age. It may affect your vision. But more often, it affects how you look. This surgery is usually considered cosmetic, or plastic, surgery when it is done to improve your appearance. But this surgery is considered reconstructive surgery when it's done to improve your field of vision.

The doctor makes small incisions in the creases of your upper eyelids and just below the lashes of your lower eyelids. The doctor removes extra tissue through the incisions. The doctor then closes the incisions.

During either surgery, you will get medicine so you will not feel pain. You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you into a light sleep.

Eyelid surgery takes about 1 to 2 hours. You will probably go home on the same day as your surgery. After surgery, you will have tiny scars. These scars will fade over time.

Most people feel ready to go out in public and back to work in about 7 to 10 days. After either surgery, you may be able to see better. You may like how the surgery affects your appearance.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking can delay recovery. Stop smoking for at least a month before surgery. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when to bathe or shower before your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery will take about 1 to 2 hours.
  • You may have a bandage over your eye. If you had surgery for ptosis, your lower lid may be taped to your forehead. This protects your eye from the bandage. You may also have an ice pack over your eye to prevent swelling.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.