An oculoplastic surgeon, oculofacial surgeon, or eye plastic surgeon is a specialized ophthalmologist with extensive post-residency training in eyelid surgery. The post-residency training combines the microsurgery of ophthalmology with cosmetic, reconstructive principles of plastic surgery. Oculoplastic surgeons can complete surgeries on the eyelid (blepharoplasty), eyebrows, periorbital tissues, cheeks, and tear (lacrimal) systems.
Oculoplastic Surgeons’ Treatments & Procedures
Oculoplastic surgeons perform two primary procedures: eyelid surgery and facial plastic surgery. Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) involves removing excess skin that causes drooping eyelids. Facial plastic surgery is a reconstructive procedure that targets facial features. Popular surgeries in an oculoplastic surgeon’s office include facial, orbital, and eyelid surgeries.
Facial surgeries include brow lifts, including direct, indirect, and endoscopic lifts. Other procedures include facelift, midface lift, cheek lift, skin resurfacing, and injections for facial wrinkles and blepharospasm. Orbital surgeries target orbital reconstruction for facial trauma. The procedures may also help resolve Grave’s thyroid disease, orbital fractures, and tumors. Eyelid surgeries include upper and lower eyelid blepharoplasty and ptosis (droopy eyelid) repair.
What Do Oculoplastic Surgeons Treat?
Oculoplastic surgeons can also help you manage dry eyes and evaluate eyelid laxity, lagophthalmos, and malposition. Experienced ophthalmologists can handle cosmetic eyelid surgery, but their work revolves around functional surgeries. Oculoplastic surgeons improve the functionality and appearance of your eyes and surrounding facial structures. Here’s an overview of conditions that oculoplastic surgeons can treat:
- Ptosis: Oculoplastic surgeons can help you correct drooping upper eyelids caused by aging or genetics. Ophthalmological clinics also treat eyebrow ptosis/drooping.
- Entropion: The condition occurs when your upper/lower eyelids turn inward, causing your eyelashes and eyelid skin to rub against the eye.
- Ectropion: An ectropion condition occurs when the lower eyelid sags or turns out, exposing the eyeball to dust and other irritants.
- Eyelid Reconstruction: You may need eyelid reconstruction to correct the damage caused by skin cancer.
- Obstructed Tear Ducts: Oculoplastic surgeons can resolve tear production problems and tear duct blockage caused by injury, illness, and congenital disabilities.
- Tumors & Injuries: Experienced eyelid surgeons can remove benign and malignant tumors of the eye and reverse trauma caused by injuries.
- Aging Signs: Cosmetic oculoplastic surgeons can help you get rid of fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, and other signs of aging.
When To Visit an Oculoplastic Surgeon
People visit oculoplastic surgeons for various eye conditions. The surgeons can perform functional surgeries, which seek to improve eye function. An example is a droopy eyelid that blocks your vision. The procedure is both functional and cosmetic because it improves your appearance. If you have an eye condition that prevents you from seeing properly, a skilled surgeon can address the problem. Here are two main reasons to visit an oculoplastic surgeon:
a) When You Need Cosmetic Eyelid Surgeries
Cosmetic eyelid surgeries seek to improve your appearance. Upper or lower eyelid blepharoplasty is the most popular cosmetic eyelid surgery. Other cosmetic surgeries include eyebrow lifts, eyelid reconstruction, and ptosis surgery. If you have droopy eyelids or suffered trauma, cosmetic surgeries can correct the damage to restore a natural-looking appearance. Cosmetic procedures can also restore appearance after tumor removal.
b) When You Need Functional Eyelid Surgeries
Oculoplastic surgeons generally handle cosmetic procedures, but their work also improves eyelid functionality. They can help you address any eye condition that affects your vision and normal functions like blinking and tear production. Popular functional surgeries include orbital implants (enucleation and evisceration) and lacrimal system draining. Functional surgeries aim to correct problems that affect how you use your eyes and eyelids.
Preparing for Oculoplastic Surgery
You should discuss your particular needs with your GP before receiving oculoplastic surgery. If your practitioner approves, your first visit will involve examining your eyes/eyelids and discussing your needs. The surgeon will also provide a list of dos and don’ts.
You should avoid particular medications like NSAIDs and warfarin (blood thinners) and some health supplements. Follow all recommendations your surgeon provides. Oculoplastic surgery can leave you sore for a few hours, so you should make travel arrangements. Let someone pick you up from the clinic after the procedure and stay with you for the first few hours.
About Blepharoplasty and Other Eyelid Surgeries
An oculoplastic surgeon specializes in performing eyelid surgeries. Excess eyelid skin and sagging eyebrows can make you appear dull, tired, and distressed. Everyone undergoes the natural aging process that causes sagging eyelids. Some people are genetically predisposed to drooping eyelids, so they may develop excess skin in their early years.
While primarily a cosmetic problem, excess eyelid skin and fat can interfere with your peripheral vision. The changing structures may also result in overall eye health problems. Blepharoplasty is the procedure most oculoplastic surgeons perform to correct droopy eyelids and brows. The surgery is minimally invasive and involves removing the excess skin and fat tissues.
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