It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul; if that is the case, what are your eyes and eyelids saying about you? If you are like many aging Americans, your eyes are the first place to show signs of wrinkles and excessive skin. As the skin around your eyes ages, the connective tissues around the eyelid loose elasticity, start to droop and create a “puffy” look. A droopy eyelid can give your entire face a tired appearance, even if you are rested and feel fine.
The medical term for droopy eyelids due to excessive skin is dermatochlasis. This condition can affect the upper or the lower eyelid, but the upper eyelid is more common. Dermatochalasis is more than just a cosmetic concern. Depending on how severely your lid droops, you may actually have difficulty seeing. When dermatochalasis begins interfering with your vision, it is time to make an appointment with your eye doctor. Untreated dermatochalasis can create safety hazards when you are doing everyday activities like driving, operating machinery, using stairs, or using sharp utensils in the kitchen.
Difference between Dermatochalasis and Ptosis
Another eye condition that is similar to dermatochalasis is ptosis (short for blepharoptosis). While both conditions can result in a drooping eyelid, ptosis is caused by muscle weakness or paralysis instead of excessive skin. Ptosis can be present at birth or develop gradually due to aging. Ptosis can also be caused by an injury to the eyelid. The treatment for ptosis is surgical repair of the levator muscle that is responsible for opening the eye. Dermatochalasis is repaired through the removal of fat and excessive skin.
Surgery is usually the best treatment for drooping eyelids. This specialized surgical procedure for dermatochalasis is called blepharoplasty, and is usually performed by an ophthalmologist who has special training in handling these delicate areas surrounding your eyes. During this surgery, the surgeon usually tightens your levator muscles to lift the eyelids, giving you improved vision as well as appearance. If your case is severe and your levator muscles are extremely weak, your surgeon will attach your eyelid to the forehead under the eyebrow. This allows your forehead muscles to substitute for levator muscles in lifting the eyelid.
Advances in blepharoplasty now create a satisfying outcome for men and women alike. One important thing to note is that, after surgery, your eyelids may not be exactly symmetrical. However, your lids will be higher, your eyes will be more open, and you will have a younger appearance than before surgery. There is generally minimal pain with either a ptosis repair or blepharoplasty. Most surgeons will prescribe antibiotic ointment to prevent infections and frequent cold compresses for the first few days to reduce swelling. You will be asked to return a few days later for a follow-up examination and removal of stitches.
Talk to Your Eye Doctor
If droopy eyelids are hindering your vision or if you are simply looking for a rejuvenated look, speak with your eye doctor and see if you are a candidate for eyelid surgery. Insurance geneerally covers blepharoplasty if your eye doctor determines that the lid is affecting your vision. Otherwise, this is considered an elective procedure.