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Getting a lift: What to expect from blepharoplasty

Jeanne’s droopy eyelids and puffy undereyes made her look sad and tired and even interfered with her peripheral vision. After years of toying with the idea, Jeanne decided it was time for an eye lift, also known as a blepharoplasty. She selected a board-certified plastic surgeon and scheduled an appointment.

At her evaluation, Jeanne’s doctor explained that he would remove the extra skin and fat from her upper and lower lids. He made sure Jeanne understood that the improvement would be subtle. She would appear refreshed, but blepharoplasty would not erase crow’s-feet or other eye wrinkles.

Her surgeon also explained that the procedure was not risk free. Among the potential complications? Excessive bleeding, a reaction to anesthesia, tear-duct problems, infection and abnormal scarring.

On the day of surgery, which was performed on an outpatient basis, Jeanne was given a local anesthetic and a sedative, so she was awake but relaxed during the procedure. To make scars inconspicuous, her doctor made small incisions in the natural creases of the eyelids and just below the lower lash line. Then he removed the excess tissue, pulled the skin tight and sealed the incisions using very fine sutures. Although Jeanne didn’t feel any pain, she could feel some tugging and pulling.

After the operation, cold compresses were applied to ease pain, and an antibiotic cream protected against infection. A few days later Jeanne’s stitches were removed, but it would take about three weeks for the redness, swelling and bruising to subside and for the healing to become apparent. The skin around her eyes looked pink for several months. To avoid discoloration and scarring, her doctor advised her to avoid sun exposure.

Today, Jeanne is happy with the outcome. But blepharoplasty, like any other elective surgery, should be carefully considered. Your best bet: Find a board-certified physician with whom you feel comfortable and discuss the pros and cons. Head, neck and ear specialists and ophthalmologists also may be qualified to perform the procedure.