What to Know Before Scheduling Your Eye Lift Surgery

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Forget "miracle" eye creams! Sagging, bagging, or puffy skin on the eyelids or the lower eye area can often be corrected with a relatively simple procedure known as blepharoplasty. This surgical technique literally removes excess skin and fat, or tightens lax muscles to improve the appearance around the eyes. Statistically, it is among the most popular surgical cosmetic corrective procedures performed.
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Eye Lift Results

Eye lifts are the third most common cosmetic surgery people have, right behind liposuction and breast augmentation. As mentioned above, results from an eye lift (known as blepharoplasty) can be outstanding. But as successful as this procedure can be, it is important to realize that this type of surgery does have limitations.

For the most part, blepharoplasty will only remove wrinkles that are physically cut away, it cannot change or impact "crow's feet," lift the eyebrow, or alter skin discolorations such as natural discoloration or pronounced dark circles under the eye. Most of these concerns can potentially be corrected by chemical or laser resurfacing treatments in tandem with a forehead lift and/or dermal fillers. Though blepharoplasty can be performed as a single procedure, physicians often recommend a combination of treatments to achieve the best, most dramatic results. For example, an eye lift may be accompanied by Botox for crow's feet or dermal filler to plump wrinkles.

Scarring from Eye Lifts

Incisions for blepharoplasty follow the natural contour lines in both upper and lower lids, and if the goal of creating thin surgical scars is met, these incisions are barely visible and blend into the eyelids' natural lines and folds. How you scar depends on both the skill of the surgeon and your own genetic propensity for scarring.

To eliminate some types of bagging under the eye, a technique called transconjunctival blepharoplasty is used. This removes excess fat by making the incision on the inside of the lower eyelid, leaving no visible scar.

Risks of an Eye Lift

It's important that you know that there are risks with ANY cosmetic surgery procedure, just as there are risks with non-surgical procedures. It is important to discuss these risks as well as postoperative care with your surgeon so that you can be assured of the best possible outcome (and keep your expectations realistic).

A talented surgeon can avoid some of the typical risks or complications such as creating a scar above the fold of the upper eyelid, overpulling the skin, or removing too much of the fat pad areas which creates a sunken, drawn appearance. Other risks include decreased sensation in the eyelid area, dryness, burning, stinging, or gritty sensations in the eyes, asymmetrical appearance of the eyes, whiteheads where the sutures were placed, and difficulty closing the eyes.

Eye Lift Alternatives

Although blepharoplasty can do away with drooping eyelids, some physicians may recommend performing only an endoscopic forehead lift as a less invasive alternative to lift the eye area and improve the appearance of the forehead. This can produce more desirable results, without risking complications around the eye area or causing potentially obvious scarring. Discuss this option with your physician, especially if you have other concerns such as drooping brows.

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Sources: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, April 2004, pages 1459-1468;, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,April 2004, pages 1242-1250; Annals of Plastic Surgery, March 2004, pages 234-239; Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, May-June 2004, pages 150-154; and Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, January 2004, pages 1-9.

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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