Cosmetic Eye Surgery FAQ
What is cosmetic eye surgery?
Cosmetic eye surgery is any of a number of surgical procedures designed to improve the appearance of your eyes, primarily to reduce signs of aging. In most cases, the surgery is performed on the eyelids and/or surrounding tissues, not the eyes.
Other terms for cosmetic eye surgery include blepharoplasty, cosmetic eyelid surgery, eyelid plastic surgery and cosmetic Asian eyelid surgery. Blepharoplasty is the most frequently performed cosmetic eye surgery.
How popular is cosmetic eyelid surgery?
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 161,389 cosmetic eyelid surgery procedures were performed in the United States in 2013, making blepharoplasty the third most popular elective cosmetic procedure, behind liposuction (363,912) and breast augmentation (313,327), and ahead of abdominoplasty (160,077) and rhinoplasty (147,996).
For people 51 and older, blepharoplasty was one of the top three procedures for that age group, the other two being liposuction and facelift.
Men had 17.5 percent of the blepharoplasty procedures in 2013.
How long does a blepharoplasty last?
For most people, blepharoplasty is a long-lasting procedure.
Unlike facelifts, which can lose their effectiveness over time due to the effects of gravity, cosmetic eyelid surgery corrects problems caused more by the influence of heredity and other factors on the eyelids than the effects of gravity. The improvement in eyelid appearance from blepharoplasty generally can last as long as 10 years.
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How much does blepharoplasty cost?
In 2013 the national average for blepharoplasty surgeon fees in the United States was $2,726 (vs. $2,724 in 2012, $2,630 in 2011 and $2,912 in 2010), according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. These are surgeon fees only and don't include surgical facility fees, anesthesia, tests, prescriptions, surgical garments, etc.
Your costs can be higher or lower, depending on many factors, including whether you have surgery performed on both the upper and lower eyelids, on only the upper lids or only the lower lids.
Blepharoplasty cost also can vary significantly based on the expertise and location of the cosmetic eye surgeon you choose.
What is cosmetic Asian eyelid surgery?
Cosmetic Asian eyelid surgery (also called "double eyelid" surgery) is a procedure that creates a crease in the upper eyelid of a person of Asian descent (if they are born without one or with a minimal crease) and a larger opening between the upper and lower eyelids to make his or her eyes more visible.
A significant percentage of Asians are born with a "single eyelid" type that lacks a crease or fold to separate the portion of the lid covering the eye and the portion attached to the brow. These upper eyelid creases are typical of the eyes of Caucasians, Blacks, Hispanics and other ethnic groups. Some Asians who have this "single eyelid" type consider it undesirable and choose to undergo cosmetic Asian eyelid surgery to create a creased, "double eyelid" that they feel is more attractive.
The upper lid crease produces or gives the impression of a larger eyelid opening, potentially making the eyes more expressive. The procedure also makes it easier for some Asian women to apply mascara and eye makeup.
The Asian eyelid procedure involves removing a small amount of skin and some tissue under the skin of the eyelid, including a small amount of fat. The incision line is hidden in the newly created eyelid crease. In some cases, surgery is performed on both the upper and lower lids.
Because of the technical demands of creating a natural-appearing Asian eyelid crease, it's wise to seek the services of a cosmetic eye surgeon or plastic surgeon who specializes in this type of procedure if you are considering it.
What are other cosmetic eye surgery options?
Besides blepharoplasty and cosmetic Asian eyelid surgery, other cosmetic eye procedures include removal of fat pads under the eyelids to reduce "puffy eyes," surgical correction of a drooping eyelid and removal of skin tags and other growths from the eyelids.
Removal of pinguecula and pterygium from the sclera (white surface of the eye) also can be considered cosmetic eye surgery. There is even a cosmetic eye surgery designed to make the sclera of the eye whiter, for a bright, youthful look. I-Brite is the brand name one surgeon uses for this eye whitening surgery.
What questions should I ask before cosmetic eye surgery?
Before consenting to cosmetic eye surgery, ask your surgeon these questions during your pre-operative consultation:
- What are the possible risks of the procedure? Though blepharoplasty has fewer risks than many other cosmetic procedures, find out what they are, how often complications occur and how your surgeon will handle complications if they do occur.
- How long does it take for cosmetic eye surgery recovery? There will be some eyelid swelling and bruising after blepharoplasty. Ask your surgeon how long this will last (usually two to three weeks). Also, ask about post-operative restrictions on activities, typical time periods for resuming work and social activities, and when you can resume wearing eye makeup.
- How much will the cosmetic eye surgery cost? Though the average cost mentioned above is helpful, ask for a specific price quote that includes all surgical fees and follow-up care.
- What is the doctor's policy about revisions? Though blepharoplasty revisions are infrequent, ask your surgeon if you are responsible for any additional costs if a revision is necessary.
- How much experience does the doctor have performing the procedure? Cosmetic eye surgery requires specialized training and is not performed by every eye surgeon or plastic surgeon. Ask what training the doctor has completed and how often he or she performs blepharoplasty and other cosmetic eye surgery.
Does insurance cover the cost of blepharoplasty?
Not usually. But if droopy eyelids are affecting your ability to see, then health insurance may cover some or all blepharoplasty costs. Your optometrist, ophthalmologist or cosmetic eye surgeon can perform visual field testing to determine if your drooping eyelids are causing vision problems that would make blepharoplasty a medically necessary procedure, not just a cosmetic one.
Can I have blepharoplasty after LASIK surgery?
Yes. LASIK surgery is not a contraindication to having blepharoplasty or other cosmetic eye surgery. Consult with your LASIK surgeon to determine how long you should wait after your vision correction surgery before undergoing blepharoplasty (generally at least six months).
Some patients experience dry eyes after LASIK. Since blepharoplasty may temporarily reduce your ability to blink fully for a period after surgery, use artificial tears liberally after blepharoplasty, especially if you have a post-LASIK dry eye condition.
About the Author: Gary Heiting, OD, is senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 25 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear industry. His special interests include contact lenses, nutrition and preventive vision care. Connect with Dr. Heiting via Google+.
Statistics are from the Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank Statistics for 2013, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery website.
[Page updated May 2014]