What Is Ptosis and Eyelid Correction?
Droopy eyelids can do more than just affect your appearance — they can also impact your vision. This condition, medically known as ptosis (pronounced ‘TOE-sis’), is characterised by the sagging or falling of the upper eyelid. It can occur in anyone, but it is a common concern amongst Asian individuals who may find that it further narrows the eye's appearance and field of vision.
Whether you've been living with ptosis for a while or recently noticed changes in your eyelids, the team at Asian Plastic Surgery can help. With a comprehensive understanding of both the functional and aesthetic implications of ptosis, and a commitment to delivering personalised care, our surgeons are here to guide you on your journey to improved vision and a new look.
What Is Ptosis?
Ptosis is derived from the Greek word for "falling", and it refers to drooping of the upper eyelid. This drooping can be slight and barely noticeable, or severe to the point that it covers a significant portion of the pupil. Depending on its severity and the age at which it develops, ptosis can interfere with normal vision.
There are two broad categories of ptosis, as well as several subcategories.
This type is present at birth or occurs within the first year of life, resulting from a developmental issue with the levator muscle, the primary muscle responsible for lifting the eyelid.
This type refers to drooping of the eyelid that develops later on, any time after one year of life. The most common type of acquired ptosis is aponeurotic ptosis, which occurs when the levator muscle becomes weakened and overstretched, causing the eyelid to fall. This usually occurs due to ageing.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Ptosis?
The symptoms of ptosis are generally quite evident. These include:
- A noticeable lowering of the upper eyelid, affecting one or both eyes
- Straining of facial muscles due to the effort of lifting the eyelids
- Eye strain and/or headaches
- Decreased visual field if the drooping is severe
- Frequent tilting of the head backward to see better
At Asian Plastic Surgery, we aim to address both the functional and aesthetic concerns associated with ptosis to produce a comprehensive result for our patients.
Are Droopy Eyelids a Medical Condition?
While many people initially notice ptosis due to its cosmetic implications, the effects of droopy eyelids can extend beyond appearances. In moderate to severe cases, ptosis can obstruct your field of vision, making daily activities such as reading or driving challenging. The continuous effort to lift the drooping eyelids can lead to discomfort, headaches, chronic muscle tension and eye strain.
How Does Ptosis Affect the Asian Population?
While ptosis affects individuals of all ethnicities, it has some specific implications for people of Asian descent. The key factor here is the distinct anatomy of the Asian eyelid, which often lacks a defined upper eyelid crease and has more fat and skin. This unique structure can sometimes make ptosis less noticeable initially, but the condition may cause more functional impairment due to the already narrow visual field.
When it comes to treatment, surgical correction of ptosis in Asian patients requires a deep understanding of Asian eyelid anatomy and aesthetics. An overly high eyelid or deep crease post-surgery, which might be desirable in a Western aesthetic context, can result in an unnatural appearance for an Asian patient.
How Is Droopy Eyelid Surgery Performed?
Our surgeons utilise a range of techniques for ptosis correction, carefully selecting a suitable approach based on the individual patient's needs and circumstances. Each of the following operations is an outpatient procedure and takes approximately one hour.
This is the traditional and most common method for ptosis repair. The surgeon makes an incision in the natural crease of the eyelid, allowing direct access to the levator muscle. The muscle is then tightened to elevate the eyelid, and the incision is closed with fine sutures.
This technique is less invasive. In this procedure, the surgeon turns the eyelid inside out and shortens either the levator muscle or Mueller’s muscle to elevate the eyelid. There is no visible scar because the incision is made on the inside of the eyelid.
This procedure is typically reserved for severe ptosis or cases where the levator muscle function is very poor. It involves creating a connection between the eyelid and the frontalis muscle (the muscle in the forehead that raises the eyebrows), allowing the forehead muscle to assist in lifting the eyelid.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Eyelid Lift Surgery?
Recovery from droopy eyelid surgery is generally well-tolerated by patients, but it is important to note that each individual’s experience may vary.
In the initial days following surgery, you may experience swelling and bruising around your eyes. This is normal and should gradually subside over the first one to two weeks. Temporary discomfort, itching, dryness or tearing may also occur.
For the first week after surgery, you should avoid activities that could increase blood pressure in your face, such as bending over, lifting heavy objects or strenuous exercise. You may need to take one to two weeks off work to ensure proper healing. If your job requires significant physical exertion or exposure to dust and other potential irritants, a longer period off work may be advisable.
While most of the swelling will resolve within two weeks, minor swelling can persist for several weeks. Stitches, if used, are usually removed within seven to 10 days.
What Are the Drawbacks of Ptosis Surgery?
We believe it's crucial for our patients to make informed decisions, which includes understanding potential drawbacks. These are some complications that could occur with ptosis surgery: asymmetry, overcorrection or undercorrection, dry eyes, infection, bleeding, unfavourable scarring, changes in vision.
At Asian Plastic Surgery, we strive to minimise the risks associated with ptosis repair through meticulous surgical technique, personalised care and stringent safety protocols. We encourage you to discuss any concerns during your consultation so we can provide detailed information tailored to your individual circumstances.
Is Droopy Eyelid Surgery Covered by Medicare?
If ptosis is causing functional issues such as impaired vision or frequent headaches, the procedure may be considered medically necessary. In these cases, Medicare or your private health fund may help cover the cost of surgery. Relevant MBS item numbers include 45617, 45623, 45624 and 45625.
If you're seeking an eyelid lift (or blepharoplasty) purely for cosmetic reasons – that is, to enhance your appearance rather than alleviate physical symptoms – then it will not be eligible for coverage. Cosmetic procedures are typically paid out-of-pocket.
When Are Results Expected and How Long Can They Last?
Many patients notice a difference in their eyelid position immediately after surgery. The final result will be apparent once all swelling has completely resolved, a process that can take two to three months.
In general, the improvements from droopy eyelid surgery are long-lasting. However, no surgery can halt the natural ageing process. Over time, you may notice gradual changes in your eyelids due to age-related laxity of tissues. The procedure’s longevity depends on various factors such as your age, health, lifestyle and the degree of ptosis you have prior to the surgery.
Your Next Steps With Asian Plastic Surgery
If you're experiencing the functional or aesthetic concerns associated with droopy eyelids, please know that you're not alone — and that solutions are available. The experienced surgeons at Asian Plastic Surgery are here to guide you through every step of the surgical process, from initial consultation to operation to follow-up care.
We look forward to welcoming you in our beautiful Sydney clinic. Reach out to schedule a consultation or call us on 02 8962 9388.