WHAT IS OPHTHALMIC PLASTIC SURGERY?
Ophthalmic plastic surgery, or oculoplastics, is a subspecialty of ophthalmology that deals with disorders of the eyelids, orbits (bones around the eyes), eyeball and lacrimal (tear) system. It can also correct defects such as ptosis (droopy eyes) and dry eyes. These surgeries are typically performed as outpatient procedures with local anesthesia. Complications are rare.
BENEFITS OF OPHTHALMIC PLASTIC SURGERY
Plastic surgery of the eyelids and brow can help patients see more clearly, as well as look younger and rejuvenated. By removing excess tissue and tightening the skin, cosmetic and functional eyelid surgery and browlifts can not only increase the visual field but also “turn back time” by reducing the appearance of wrinkles, lines and sagging skin that make you look angry or tired.
What procedures encompass Ophthalmic Surgery?
Ophthalmic plastic surgery procedures treat conditions ranging from drooping eyelids and orbital fractures to blocked tear ducts and more. While some ophthalmic plastic surgery procedures are medically necessary, many people choose to have surgery purely for cosmetic improvement. Examples of ophthalmic plastic surgery include:
- Eyelid ptosis surgery.
- Cosmetic surgery of the upper and lower eyelids (blepharoplasty).
- Brow lift surgery.
- Lower eyelid repositioning surgery to correct ectropion or entropion.
- Reconstruction after skin cancer surgery.
- Orbital tumor surgery.
- Orbital fracture repair.
Is Ophthalmic Surgery painful?
No. All procedures are performed with either local anesthesia or general anesthesia, both of which block pain signals. For a few days after ophthalmic surgery, a patient may rely on prescription pain medication to manage soreness and tenderness. Within a few days, most patients can manage comfort with an over-the-counter pain reliever.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF OPHTHALMIC PLASTIC SURGERY?
Ophthalmic surgery is considered safe in most cases. Dr. Stefano conducts a thorough consultation and medical history with each patient who visits us to discuss eye and eyelid procedures. General risks of surgery include excessive swelling, bruising, bleeding, and infection. These risks can be managed successfully by following all post-treatment care instructions for keeping the area clean and dry.
IS OPHTHALMIC PLASTIC SURGERY SAFE?
Despite their small incisions and relatively easy recoveries, ophthalmic plastic surgery is still just that, surgery. It involves the risks inherent in any surgery: excessive bleeding, poor wound healing, reaction to anesthesia, infection, and the like. These are rare, especially when considering Dr. Stefano’s board certification and extensive experience. For people with problems requiring surgery, the benefits far outweigh any minimal risks.
WHO WOULD BE AN IDEAL CANDIDATE FOR OPHTHALMIC PLASTIC SURGERY?
These surgeries performed by Dr. Stefano are wide-ranging in scope. That makes for a wide range of great candidates. These are the conditions that ophthalmic surgery can correct:
- Droopy upper eyelids (ptosis)
- Eyelids turned inward (entropion) or outward (ectropion)
- Eye problems due to thyroid disease
- Skin cancers and other growths in or around the eyes
- Weakness around the eyes or eyelids caused by Bell’s palsy
- Tear duct problems
- Injuries to the eye or eye area
- Sagging eyelids that may or may not impact vision (blepharoplasty)
EYELID SURGERY (BLEPHAROPLASTY)
Blepharoplasty can rejuvenate puffy, sagging or tired-looking eyes by removing excess fat, skin and muscle from the upper and lower eyelids. It may be performed for cosmetic reasons or to improve sight by lifting droopy eyelids out of the patient’s field of vision. The procedure is usually performed in an office with local anesthesia in as little as 45 minutes.
How long is recovery from an Ophthalmic surgery procedure?
The most common ophthalmic plastic surgery procedures are performed to improve cosmetic appearance. Examples include eyelid rejuvenation with blepharoplasty and brow lift surgery. While every patient is unique, we typically advise our patients to expect a recovery period of one to two weeks. Taking this amount of time off work enables patients to return to their normal routine without obvious bruising and swelling. Dr. Stefano prepares each patient for recovery based on the procedure they are scheduled to have.
ARE THERE TIPS FOR EASIER RECOVERY AFTER OPHTHALMIC PLASTIC SURGERY?
- As mentioned above, probably the single most important facet of recovery is to make good use of the cold compress we supply. This will minimize pain, swelling, and subsequent bruising.
- You’ll need to sleep with your head propped up above the level of your heart for about one week. This also helps to minimize swelling and bruising.
- You need to avoid any activities that elevate blood pressure on your face. Try not to bend down or lift anything with any weight. Exercising will need to wait for at least one week.
- You’ll need to be careful about washing your eyes until your stitches are removed usually after one week. We will give you instructions on how to handle this aspect of your recovery.
- You will likely have some increased tearing, some sensitivity to light and wind, and possibly blurry vision for the first week or two, but this is normal.
IS OPHTHALMIC PLASTIC SURGERY PAINFUL?
In most cases, recovery from these surgeries is not overly painful. The procedures don’t involve long incisions, so they are easily manageable. Typically, patients only require over-the-counter pain medication, although Dr. Stefano may prescribe prescription pain medication in certain instances.
One important way to help minimize both pain and swelling in the diligent use of the cold compress we provide. This keeps your bruising to a minimum and it limits any pain.
What long term outcome can I expect after my surgery?
Ophthalmic surgeries can achieve beautiful long-term results. While surgery does not stop the tissue around the eyes from aging, patients are typically happy with their appearance for many years after their procedure.
IS OPHTHALMIC PLASTIC SURGERY COVERED BY INSURANCE?
As mentioned above, the range of these surgeries is quite expensive. When wondering if a procedure will be covered by your health insurance, you typically need to weigh the cosmetic versus function question. If eyelid surgery, blepharoplasty, is strictly to rejuvenate your eyes, for example, it will be deemed elective by most insurance companies and they will not cover the procedure. However, if your sagging eyelids have begun to impact your field of vision, then the procedure would be deemed medically necessary for your vision, and it would be covered by insurance.
Most of these surgeries, such as correcting entropion or ectropion, are necessary for the patient’s situation and are covered by their health plans. We work with your insurance provider to obtain the highest level of coverage.
HOW MUCH DOES OPHTHALMIC PLASTIC SURGERY COST?
The surgeries performed by Dr. Stefano can be as simple as clearing the tear ducts. Or they can be quite involved, such as removing skin cancer from the eyelid and grafting. Because of the variety, there isn’t any way to predict what an individual patient would need to pay for these surgeries. Plus, with the exception of purely cosmetic blepharoplasty, most of these surgeries are covered by health insurance.
Once Dr. Stefano sees you during your consultation, he can give you a good idea of what the potential costs and possible reimbursement will be.