Ptosis is the medical term for a drooping upper eyelid margin, where your eyelashes are located. It may appear your eyes are not fully open, or like you can see less of your iris, the colored part of your eye. You can be born with a degree of ptosis, it can be a complication of eye surgery or it can occur as a result of an injury. Most commonly, however, ptosis is simply the result of aging. When we are young, our eyelid muscles are typically strong and elastic. Over time, the levator muscle that helps lift the eyelid weakens, causing the upper eyelids to sag over your eyes. This can make it difficult to see unless you tilt your head back. It can also lead to significant visual field loss.
In order to improve the function of the eyelids, Dr. Valerie H. Chen performs ptosis repair. As our board-certified ophthalmologist and ophthalmic plastic surgeon, Dr. Chen has an in-depth knowledge of eye anatomy and cosmetic artistry to restore a full field of vision while also creating a natural appearance.
Ptosis repair can be done through an external approach (through the skin) or an internal approach (under the eyelid, avoiding an incision through the skin) to tighten the eyelid lifting muscles. One of the eyelid- lifting muscles is the levator (targeted from the external approach) and the other is Muller's muscle (targeted from the internal approach). Dr. Chen will perform an eye exam to determine how ptosis is affecting your vision and special testing to see which method will achieve the best outcome.
On the day of your procedure, you will receive local anesthesia. Your eyes may also be numbed to make the procedure as comfortable as possible. The procedure involves these steps:
Your medical history will be reviewed to ensure you are healthy enough for this procedure. Dr. Chen will also need to know all of the medications you are currently taking if any, so she can tell you which ones should be suspended prior to your procedure. Here are some general tips to promote a successful procedure:
You will be provided detailed pre-operative instructions in writing by Dr. Chen and her team prior to your procedure.
You should expect to take it easy for the first few days after procedure and avoid strenuous activities for at least 10-14 days. During this time, your eyes may be swollen and appear bruised. You will be advised to apply ice for the first week, but especially during the first 48 hours - this will help minimize swelling and discomfort. Use a warm compress after that timeframe. You may also take over-the-counter pain medications if needed.
Dr. Chen and her team will provide you with detailed post-operative instructions in writing.
Be patient and allow your eyes to heal! It may take 1-2 weeks for your eyes to fully heal, but most patients are able to return to work and non-strenuous activities within 1 week.
Patients who have ptosis repair are often amazed at how well they can see after their procedure. As a side benefit, lifting the eyelids can also make you appear more alert and even younger. It can truly be a life-changing, confidence-boosting procedure.