Blepharoplasty is surgical modification of the eyelid. Excess tissue such as skin and fat are removed or repositioned, and surrounding muscles and tendons may be reinforced. It can be both a functional and cosmetic surgery.
Blepharoplasty is often done as an elective surgery for cosmetic reasons. Lower eyelid blepharoplasty is almost always done for cosmetic reasons, to improve puffy lower eyelid "bags" and reduce the wrinkling of skin. Asian blepharoplasty or double eyelid surgery is a special type of blepharoplasty that creates a crease in the upper eyelid. This "supratarsal fold" is common in many races but absent in about half of Asians. Surgery can artificially create this crease and make a 'single-lidded' patient appear 'double-lidded'. It is the most popular form of cosmetic surgery among those of east and southeast Asian background.
Blepharoplasty is sometimes needed for functional reasons. When an advanced amount of upper eyelid skin is present, the skin may protrude over the eyelashes and causes a loss of peripheral vision. The outer and upper parts of the visual field are most commonly affected and the condition may cause difficulty with activities such as driving or reading. In this circumstance, upper eyelid blepharoplasty is performed to improve peripheral vision.
Blepharoplasty is usually performed through external incisions made along the natural skin lines of the eyelids, such as the creases of the upper lids and below the lashes of the lower lids. Incisions may be made from the inside surface of the lower eyelid (transconjunctival blepharoplasty); this allows removal of lower eyelid fat without an externally-visible scar, but does not allow excess skin to be removed. External skin resurfacing with a chemical peel or carbon dioxide laser may be performed simultaneously. This allows for a faster recovery process.
The operation typically takes one to three hours to complete. Initial swelling and bruising resolve in one to two weeks but at least several months are needed until the final result becomes stable. Blepharoplasty's effects are best appreciated by comparing before and after photos of surgical patients.
The anatomy of the eyelids, skin quality, age, and the adjacent tissue all affect the cosmetic and functional outcomes. Factors which are known to cause complications include:
dry eyes - which may become exacerbated by disrupting the natural tear film
laxity (looseness) of the lower lid margin (edge) - which predisposes to lower lid malposition
prominence of the eye in relation to the malar (cheek) complex - which predisposes to lower lid malposition