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Why Eyelid Surgery may be Medically Necessary

One of the most common forms of facial plastic surgery is blepharoplasty or eyelift. This procedure is performed for both cosmetic and medical purposes. It can help correct vision issues many people suffer from as well as give people a boost to their self-confidence.

What is Blepharoplasty?

In the simplest terms, blepharoplasty is an eyelid lift. When many people hear about the procedure they most oftentimes see it as a strictly cosmetic procedure but it can also be performed medically as well. Functional blepharoplasty is a procedure that can help correct vision loss that is affected by sagging skin as well as ptosis, a rare condition that causes the drooping of an eyelid. 

Ptosis occurs when the levator palpebrae superioris, the medical term for the muscle that elevates the eyelid, is weak. It can affect one or both of the upper eyelids. When the condition is present at a child’s birth it is known as congenital ptosis. This weakness can be due to a variety of different things. The most common cause in children occurs when the muscle doesn’t develop well. 

Childhood ptosis can cause many problems including:

  • Astigmatism - A drooping eyelid can add pressure to the front of a child’s eye causing the shape of the eye to develop into a cone shape. This distortion of the eye is treatable but may require glasses or surgery.

  • Amblyopia - Known more commonly as “lazy eye”, can result in reduced vision in the affected eye. It is caused by the weight of the affected eyelid weighing down the eye, weakening the muscles. 

  • Chin Up Position - In severe cases of ptosis, the child could adopt a position where they hold their chin upwards so they can see from beneath their drooping eyelid and use both of their eyes at once. This may lead to the child developing neck problems in the future or, in more serious cases, could delay their developmental skills. 

Blepharoplasty can also help to correct sagging eyelids that are caused by aging. Your skin goes through so many changes as you age, especially around your eyes. As the delicate skin around your eyes begins to lose elasticity it will start to stretch and sag. The muscles in this area begin to break down and weaken and can cause the skin to bulge out. This can leave you feeling like your eyelids are too heavy or droopy or that your under-eye region is too puffy. The drooping lids can affect your peripheral, or side, vision. A lack of peripheral vision causes what is known as tunnel vision. This can affect your daily life as well as your ability to drive. 

The procedure can also correct other medical conditions. It can help with irritation caused by excess folds of the eyelid skin rubbing together. It can also help with forehead discomfort that is caused by overused muscles that are strained from lifting the sagging skin around someone’s eyelids.

What Happens During Functional Blepharoplasty 

If your drooping eyelids are causing significant functional issues for you and it’s beginning to affect your daily life, you should see a doctor. Your insurance company may cover the cost of the procedure if the blepharoplasty is medically necessary. Before getting approval from your insurance company, you may be required to see an ophthalmologist. They will be able to perform a vision field test that will determine if your drooping eyelids are affecting your vision.

Depending on the severity of the drooping lids, surgery can be performed on one or both of your eyelids. Plastic surgeons who specialize in facial reconstruction and eye surgery can perform medically necessary blepharoplasty on patients.

During the procedure, the surgeon will cut along the fold of your upper eyelid to remove the excess skin, fat pads, or muscle that is causing your lid to droop. When working on the lower eyelid, the surgeon will make an incision along the natural crease of your eye or just below your lashes. Here they will remove or redistribute any excess skin, fat pads, or muscle.

Talk to an Eyelid Surgeon Expert

Dr. Myron Tanenbaum’s Miami-based plastic surgery practice is focused on providing patients with the highest quality care. For the past 25 years, the practice’s primary focus is on the discipline of ophthalmic, reconstructive, and cosmetic surgery. Dr. Tannenbaum, an ophthalmic expert, personally performs all of the eyelid surgeries and has been rated as one of the top ophthalmologists in the United States.