Your eyes say a lot about you. When you’re sad, they can tear up. When you are happy or laugh, they crinkle. If you’re tired, the eyes get heavy, and when you’re ill, they might turn red from irritation. Your eyes can also change as you get older, and those changes might start to tell a story about you that isn’t true.
For example, some people develop ptosis, or a drooping upper eyelid, as they get older. Acquired ptosis can occur for several reasons, but no matter what the reason, the results are usually upsetting. The droopy lid can make you look as though you’re about to fall asleep. Or, the lid might droop down so much that your vision is partially or even completely blocked. Treating ptosis can help restore your sense of self-confidence, improve your appearance, and even improve your eyesight.
Causes of Ptosis
There are two major types of ptosis — congenital and acquired. A person with congenital ptosis is born with an eyelid or eyelids that droop. Often, the eyelid is droopy because the muscle that controls it didn’t develop fully. Typically, this type of ptosis is treated early on, to prevent further problems from occurring, such as astigmatism. Kids with ptosis will often raise their eyebrows in an attempt to see out of the affected eyes or tip up their chins trying to see better. If the condition isn’t treated, it can lead to long-term problems with the facial and neck muscles, too.
Acquired ptosis, which often occurs in adulthood, can happen for a number of reasons. Several conditions that affect neurological function, such as Horner syndrome, can contribute to ptosis. Injury or damage to the muscles in the eyelid can also cause a droopy lid. Finally, ptosis can also just be a part of the aging process for some people. In some cases, a person might be more likely to develop it if his or her parents also had ptosis.
Dealing With Ptosis
If you have ptosis, what you do about it depends on how severe it is. Some people notice a little droop as they get older. But because they can still see out of the affected eye and don’t notice much change to their facial appearance, they decide to leave it alone.
But other patients want to tackle their ptosis, especially if it is causing them a number of problems, from blocked vision to an appearance that makes them look tired or older than they would want.
An eyelid lift, or blepharoplasty, is usually your best option if you have acquired ptosis that is due to aging. During the surgery, an incision is made along the crease of the upper eyelid. The surgeon will then remove extra skin and muscle, as well as extra fat, if needed. The location of the incisions means that any scarring is minimal and may not be very noticeable.
Deciding to Have Eyelid Surgery
Eyelid surgery isn’t for everyone. Even if your ptosis is advanced enough that seeing is difficult, if you have other eye problems as well, you might need to focus on correcting those before the doctor will perform the procedure. For example, upper blepharoplasty is usually not recommended for people who have dry eyes, since it can make dryness a lot worse. If you have glaucoma, the surgery may also not be appropriate for you.
Your surgeon will evaluate your eyes and discuss your expectations with you during a consultation before surgery. The consultation is not only an opportunity for your surgeon to get to know your eyes, it’s an opportunity for you to get to know the surgeon and to find out as much as you can about what to expect during and after the procedure. Ask to see any pictures of past patients to get a sense of what the surgery can do for you and to understand what it has done for past patients.
You’ll also want to learn more about the basics of the recovery period during your consultation. While your eyes heal, a few activities will most likely be off limits, such as reading for long periods of time, watching a lot of TV, and heading to the gym. Your surgeon will give you a sense of the recovery time frame, including when you can start your favorite activities once again.
A board certified facial plastic surgeon in Virginia Beach, Dr. Kyle Choe is happy to discuss blepharoplasty with you at great length. Ptosis doesn’t have to disrupt your vision or your life. To learn more about your options for correcting it, call (757) 389-5850 today.