Plastic surgery is a term with which most people are familiar. This term may bring to mind cosmetic procedures such as a facelift or tummy tuck. Oculoplastic surgery is similar enough to the broader term that it may create misconceptions or confusion. As a board-certified, fellowship-trained oculoplastic surgeon, Dr. Murrell has helped many people regain confidence and comfort through precise procedures and treatments. Here, we discuss the particulars of this medical specialty and what it may mean for you.
What Is Oculoplastic Surgery?
Oculoplastic surgery is the term used to categorize procedures that correct some aspect of the eye, including the eye socket, eyelids, tear ducts, and more.
Procedures performed by an oculoplastic surgeon may be either reconstructive or cosmetic in nature. Each treatment that is conducted is done in a way that improves appearance, vision, comfort, and the overall health of the eye.
Benefits of Going to An Oculoplastic Surgeon
An oculoplastic surgeon is first a board-certified ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has received extended training beyond medical school to diagnose and treat eye diseases and conditions such as cataracts and more. In addition to ophthalmology training, an oculoplastic surgeon has also undergone specific experiences in which the eyes and structures around the eyes are diagnosed and treated. Dr. Murrell completed an oculoplastic fellowship under an esteemed medical specialist who has contributed to medical textbooks in the area of oculoplastics.
A general plastic surgeon is a specialist who has been trained in the broad range of all plastic surgery procedures. In contrast, an oculoplastic surgeon has been trained specifically in the eye and peri-orbital area. The narrower focus of the oculoplastic surgeon compared to a general surgeon or general plastic surgeon provides patients with the highest degree of familiarity with ocular anatomy possible.
Candidates for Oculoplastic Surgery
Many people undergo oculoplastic surgery for cosmetic or reconstructive purposes. Ideal candidates are in good physical health and do not smoke. When seeking oculoplastic surgery for cosmetic reasons, it is beneficial to have realistic expectations of what is possible through eyelid surgery.
What Surgeries Do Oculoplastic Surgeons Perform?
There are several surgical procedures that an oculoplastic surgeon has the unique training to perform. These include:
Blepharoplasty is a commonly performed eyelid surgery that rejuvenates the appearance of the eyes.
Usually performed on an outpatient basis, this procedure may be conducted on the upper or lower eyelids or both. During the procedure, fat tissue and skin are manipulated as needed, tightened, and secured to smooth the appearance of the eyelids.
Most blepharoplasties are performed for cosmetic reasons. However, there are sometimes functional reasons to undergo this procedure. If the skin on the upper eyelid is falling into the field of vision or pushing the eyelid closed to the point of affecting vision, blepharoplasty may be medically necessary.
Eyelid surgeries may also be performed to address structural problems. Ptosis repair is a common procedure in which the muscle that opens the upper eyelid is corrected. Ptosis is a condition in which the muscle does not allow the eye to open as fully as it should. This problem cannot be adequately corrected with blepharoplasty, which is one reason why ptosis should be diagnosed and treated by an oculoplastic surgeon. Additional eyelid procedures include ectropion and entropion repair, eyelid tumors, and reconstruction after eyelid trauma.
Tear Duct Surgery
Tear duct surgery is referred to as dacryocystorhinostomy. This procedure is performed when one or both eyes are not draining tears normally. This can lead to excessive, disruptive tearing. Dacryocystorhinostomy surgery creates a new tear drain opening directly from the blocked duct so tear film can properly drain into the nasal passageway.
Other Oculoplastic Surgeries
During testing Dr. Murrell is looking for signs of eyelid problems such as the following:
- Ptosis of the upper eyelid (droopy lids)
- Ectropion of the lower lid (lid pulling down and/or out)
- Entropion of the lower lid (lid turning inward)
- Eyelid Lesion of the upper and/or lower eyelids
- Eyelid Tumors on the upper and/or lower eyelids
- Reconstructive Surgery on upper and/or lower lids
- Orbital Surgery (including tumor biopsy and tumor removal)
- Blepharospasm and Hemifacial Spasm
Results of Oculoplastic Surgery
Most patients who undergo oculoplastic surgery are happy or very happy with their results. Once the eyelids have been properly corrected, results last indefinitely. Ongoing aging does affect the eyes, but blepharoplasty typically only needs to be performed once to keep the eyes looking younger.
Potential Risks of Oculoplastic Surgery
There are risks with any cosmetic or functional facial procedure. Primarily, there is the risk that a patient may not be happy with the results. Dr. Murrell spends time discussing with each patient what is and is not possible with their desired or necessary procedure. In this way, realistic expectations for the cosmetic outcome are clearly set.
Surgical procedures also carry a risk of medical complications. An experienced oculoplastic surgeon has developed techniques that significantly reduce the risk of scarring, ptosis, asymmetry, overcorrection, and other problems. Good post-operative care can greatly reduce the risk of infection.
Recovering after Oculoplastic Surgery
Eyelid surgery can cause temporary swelling and dry-eye symptoms. Patients are encouraged to rest as much as necessary during the first several days after surgery. While it is possible to return to work and normal, light activity a week to 10 days after eyelid surgery, it can take a few months for mild, residual swelling to subside.