From cosmetic procedures to functional surgery, applications are varied
Oculoplastic surgery might appear tricky to pronounce, but it’s reasonably simple to understand. Also known as eye plastic surgery, oculoplastics is an umbrella term for procedures carried out in and around the eye. They’re performed by an ophthalmologist (a medically-trained eye specialist) who has chosen to further specialize in surgical procedures.
When is oculoplastic surgery used?
There are typically two primary uses for oculoplastic surgery – cosmetic and medical.
Oculoplastic procedures have been performed for many years to fight one of the most common signs of aging, the dreaded drooping eyelid. However, they are increasingly used as less-invasive techniques for treating medical conditions such as tumors, inflammation, lacerations, or any deformity of the eye.
Isn’t it the same as plastic surgery?
Plastic surgeons have free range over the body from top to toe, but most have an area of specialty. Oculoplastic surgeons have spent many years training to specialize in the very delicate and vital area around the eye.
What are the most common oculoplastic procedures?
Oculoplastic surgery can be medically necessary or purely cosmetic, with wide-ranging treatments. The six most common procedures are:
- Ptosis surgery
Ptosis (pronounced ‘toe-sis’) is upper eyelid drooping that is often associated with aging. However, it can also affect vision – producing symptoms like blurred vision, a reduced field of vision, and watering eyes. There are different ways to perform this surgery, depending on what is causing the condition and how much of a lift is needed to treat the ptosis.
Also known as eyelid surgery or an eye lift, this procedure removes the excess skin and fat and tightens muscles around the eye. This is often a purely cosmetic procedure performed on the upper eyelid, lower eyelid, or a combination of the two.
- Eyelid cyst surgery
Cysts on the eyelid can range from mild to severe, and while some are relatively common, they can cause droopy eyelids, red watery eyes, and general discomfort. The skin on our eyelids is some of the thinnest and most sensitive in the body and can be particularly prone to sun damage and environmental toxins.
Skin cancer of the eyelid can appear as a growing nodule or ulcer-like lesion, and any suspicious areas need to be examined and sometimes biopsied before removal. Oculoplastic surgeons will remove the tumor or cyst and reconstruct the eyelid.
- Tear-duct surgery
Whether you’re suffering from dry eyes or excess tear production, problems with the lacrimal gland – the specialized, tear-producing gland – can affect the delicate balance needed to keep your eyes functioning correctly. While lubricating eye drops are sometimes all that’s necessary, in some cases, an oculoplastic surgeon needs to do work on the tear drainage system. This may involve inserting punctal plugs into your eyelid or creating a new eye drainage system.
- Ectropion or entropion repair
Ectropion refers to a rolled-out eyelid, and entropion is an eyelid that rolls in toward the eye. Both conditions can be caused by aging, scarring, or weakening of the eyelid muscles, and both can cause severe irritation to the eye. An operation is usually performed under local anesthetic and may involve removing a small section of your eyelid (where the tissue is slack).
Injectables like Botox and other dermal fillers specifically around the eye can be used by oculoplastic surgeons for purely cosmetic reasons. These can improve things like crow’s feet, worry lines in the brow, and restored volume around the eye and brow area.
Cosmetic or medical, start with a consultation
Whether you’re looking for a functional or cosmetic improvement, plenty of surgeons offer oculoplastic procedures. It’s essential to do your research and have a thorough consultation to discuss your options and desired outcomes.