It’s a fact of life: over time we begin to sag. The upper eyelids are one place where we tend to thin and lose elasticity. As a result, the eyelids can look droopy, even sleepy. Droopy eyelids, unfortunately, can accentuate the appearance of aging.
While droopy eyelids are often a harmless sign of aging, not everyone is happy with this outcome. Plastic surgery can often be of benefit.
“Drooping eyelids are commonly associated with aging, but if you are concerned about your appearance, cosmetic surgery will help,” says Salvatore Pacella, MD, division head of plastic surgery at Scripps Clinic.
Sometimes, a droopy eyelid can sag so much that it covers your pupil and affects your sight. You may need surgery to maintain your vision in such cases. This condition is called ptosis and can easily be fixed with specialized surgery.
A droopy eyelid occurs when one or both upper eyelids sag or drop lower than normal. Your doctor can help determine whether it is the result of an underlying condition or related to aging or family history.
“If drooping eyelids are the result of aging or something you were born with, your doctor may not recommend anything be done since the condition is not likely to threaten your health,” Dr. Pacella says “However, if you want to reduce the drooping, and improve your appearance, plastic surgery is an option.”
Ptosis may be present from birth or you can develop it later in life. It may also be the result of an injury.
While maily common in older adults, it can happen in people of all ages. In children, ptosis can lead to vision problems if it interferes with vision. The affected eye may become weaker. This may cause amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (wandering eye).
Non-surgical treatments can help make your eyes look more youthful. Injections of Botox and dermal fillers can tighten the skin of the eyelids. A board-certified plastic surgeon or oculoplastic surgeon can help you choose the right treatment.
Eyelid surgery or blepharoplasty may be performed for functional, reconstructive or cosmetic purposes.
An upper eyelid lift or upper blepharoplasty involves removing excess skin, and sometimes excess muscle and fat, from the upper eyelids. “When it is for cosmetic reasons, the goal is to provide a more open look to the eyes and youthful appearance,” Dr. Pacella says.
While a cosmetic blepharoplasty is an elective procedure, a functional blepharoplasty may be covered by insurance. This would apply to cases where the eyelids sag so much that it blocks your vision.
Eyelid surgery is among the least expensive plastic surgery procedures, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Last year, more than 200,000 men and women had eyelid surgery.
“Recovery is relatively simple,” says Dr. Pacella, who has spoken internationally about cosmetic eyelid surgery. He recently toured Australia and Canada, teaching eyelid surgery techniques to other surgeons.
“The results of cosmetic surgery of the eyelid can be spectacular,” he adds. “The eyes are the window to the soul. They are the first thing anyone notices about you.”