Oculoplasty is a surgical procedure for cosmetic or medical issues that affect vision or the eyes or skin and tissues around them.
Ophthalmologists perform oculoplastic surgery to correct excess or problematic skin issues around the eyelids, the orbit, tear ducts, other structures around the eye and sides of the face near the eyes. The procedure can also correct facial problems impacting your vision and overall body health.
What Conditions Does Oculoplasty Treat?
Surgeons can treat medical and structural problems around the eyes and face with an oculoplastic procedure. Situations that doctors can use it for include:
- Ptosis (when weak upper eyelids droop)
- Excess eyelid skin
- Eye tumor
- Eye trauma
- Entropion or ectropion (this is an option when your eyelids turn in or out, respectively)
- Chalazion (eyelid cyst)
Types of Oculoplastic Surgery
Doctors have several types of oculoplasty as surgical treatment options. Among them:
- Chalazion surgery
- Droopy eyelid surgery
- Surgery to remove bags under the eyes
- Surgery for inward/outward-turning eyelids
- Eyelid tumor surgery
This procedure removes chalazions, or eyelid cysts. The surgeon makes a tiny incision in the small lump to drain its contents. Once the inflammation resolves, the lesion on your eyelid can flatten in a few weeks.
Droopy Eyelid Surgery
Do droopy eyelids sometimes make you turn your head to see things that would normally appear within your side view? Ptosis surgery can shorten and tighten the affected eyelid muscle to restore your vision.
Surgery to Fix Bags Under the Eyes
Like droopy eyelids, under-eye puffiness can be unsightly and bothersome. It’s an age-related phenomenon that triggers loss of skin elasticity. This can create excess upper or lower eyelid skin. Your surgeon can perform an oculoplastic procedure called blepharoplasty to remove the extra tissue, improving your looks and vision.
Surgery for Inward/Outward-Turning Eyelids
Inward orientation of dropped eyelids may expose your eyes to issues such as light sensitivity, dry eyes and discomfort. Ectropion surgery corrects this problem by restoring your eyelid’s proper resting position. Entropion surgery achieves the same by repairing outward-oriented eyelids.
Eyelid Tumor Surgery
When a cancerous tumor develops on your eyelid, it can adversely impact your vision and overall physical health. A biopsy is the most appropriate solution for an eyelid tumor that hasn’t spread all over the eyelid skin. Your eye doctor may recommend Mohs’ surgery to remove a larger malignant growth in small fragments.
Candidates for Oculoplastic Surgery
Your overall health and the severity of your cosmetic or medical ocular issue are primary determinants of your eligibility for an oculoplasty. People who may need this procedure include:
- Children born with ptosis
- Adults with bothersome, age-related ptosis or sagging eyelids
- Individuals that need facial reconstructive surgery after extensive eyelid surgery
Among the factors that can boost your fitness for oculoplastic procedures:
- You don’t have a medical condition that could increase your postoperative complications risks
- You don’t use tobacco products
- You don’t have a severe eye disorder
Who Is an Oculoplastic Surgeon?
An oculoplastic surgeon is an ophthalmologist whose specialty involves surgery of facial tissues and the structures around the eye. The specialist can perform cosmetic, reconstructive, and therapeutic procedures on areas/parts like eyelids, forehead, cheeks and eye sockets.
Oculoplastic surgery costs vary by many factors, including:
- Where you live
- Your surgeon’s base fees
- The type of procedure you’re having
- Any extra postoperative costs, such as follow-up treatment and repeat surgery for recurring issues
Geography is a factor that not many consider, but generally the more expensive it is to live in a particular place the more expensive your doctor costs. Surgeons in larger cities – New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, for instance – generally charge more money.
To tack an eyelid with blepharoplasty, it may cost you upwards of $4,000. The average cost in 2020 was $4,120, according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Eyelid surgeries are effective qualify-of-life enhancers for many people. For example, removal of bags under the eyes can provide a more youthful look, boosting your self-esteem.
The surgical wound should heal in 10 to 14 days, letting you return to your normal routine.
As with most cosmetic procedures for age-related skin issues, problems like droopy eyelids can recur for some people. It’s important to comprehensively discuss your treatment options with your ophthalmologist and establish realistic expectations.
Major surgery around your eyes can cause various adverse effects. These include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Eyelid deformity
- Discomfort when closing your eyes
- Brief vision loss
- Blood clots
- Injury to eye tissue
Is oculoplastic surgery safe?
Your ophthalmologist will give you eye-numbing medication to ease your experience during surgery. Postoperative complications can occur, so make sure to ask your eye doctor about these issues before having the procedure.
How long does it take to recover from oculoplasty?
Less-invasive oculoplastic procedures have a maximum recovery period of 14 days for most patients. You can go to work after this duration.
If an after-surgery complication occurs, recovery can take longer until your doctor brings the underlying issue under control.
Does insurance cover oculoplasty?
Health plans can cover medically necessary oculoplastic procedures. If you have blepharoplasty to improve your vision, your medical policy can pay for this. Eyelid tumor removal and similar therapeutic procedures are generally covered.
To support your insurance claim, you’ll need to show your medical prescription. Eye exams and vision tests can help you here. If you have any doubts about treatment coverage, always check with your doctor and insurance provider.
Eyelid Cysts. British Oculoplastic Surgery Society.
Eyelid Surgery. (April 2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Eyelid Cancer: Treatment Options. (August 2015). American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Who is a Good Candidate for Eyelid Surgery? American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
How Much Does Eyelid Surgery Cost? American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Blepharoplasty. (June 2020). Mayo Clinic.
Last Updated July 19, 2023
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