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Blepharoplasty and Dry Eyes

Blepharoplasty is a highly effective surgical procedure which is designed to reshape the eyelids by removing excess fat and skin. It is a popular and common way of tackling the signs of aging around the eyes and improving the appearance of eye bags and droopy eyelids.

Blepharoplasty is increasing in popularity and was the third most popular surgical procedure carried out on men and women in the UK in 2020, beaten only by breast augmentation and breast reduction.

However, just like any other form of surgery, blepharoplasty, also known as eyelid reduction, eye lift or eyelid surgery, comes with the potential for complications. In the case of eyelid reduction surgery, these are usually mild.

However, one common side effect of eyelid reduction is dry eyes, which affects on average a quarter of people who have the procedure in the UK. Eyelid surgery also risks exacerbating the condition in patients who already suffer from dry eyes.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome, sometimes known as dry eye disease, is a common condition that occurs when the eyes do not make enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly. It is not usually serious, but this lack of lubrication can result in the eyes feeling sore, itchy, gritty or being more sensitive to light. Some sufferers may experience blurred vision.

People who suffer from dry eye syndrome may find that eyelid reduction surgery can exacerbate their condition and, in extreme cases, it may cause the condition to worsen permanently.

This is because the procedure involves removing excess skin, fatty tissue, and muscle, which can sometimes weaken the eyelid function. This reduces the patient’s ability to blink which means it becomes more difficult for tears to be moved around the eye effectively.

Even if you do not suffer from dry eye syndrome, it is still a potential complication following eyelid reduction surgery and this should be taking into consideration before undergoing the procedure. 

Who can get dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is particularly prevalent among the over 50s, smokers, people who drink alcohol, people who wear contact lenses, people who work with computers, those with certain medical conditions, such as blepharitis, Sjögren's syndrome or lupus, and people taking certain medications, including blood pressure drugs and some antidepressants. 

Some pre-existing health conditions may mean a person is more likely to develop dry eyes following blepharoplasty. These include thyroid problems, autoimmune disease and tear duct defects. Bulging eyelids also put a patient at a higher risk of developing dry eyes after surgery.

Women who are experiencing changes in hormone levels caused by the menopause or birth control pills may also be at an elevated risk of developing dry eyes following blepharoplasty.

If you are having the upper and lower eyelids done as part of your eyelid reduction surgery, this also increases the risk of developing dry eye syndrome.

How do you treat dry eye syndrome after blepharoplasty?

Most cases of dry eye syndrome following blepharoplasty are short-lived and resolve in the weeks following surgery. They can be managed with the use of medicated ointments, gels or drops. You can help minimise the risk of dry eyes after eyelid reduction surgery by closely following the aftercare advice issued by your surgeon.

Occasionally the ointment will cause the patient to have slightly blurred vision, so you may want to rest and take some extra time off work following your eyelid surgery to just relax at home where you’ll be comfortable for your recovery.

If the problem of dry eyes lasts for longer than three months, then further medical advice should be sought. Further surgery may be required to rectify the problem or remedies such as temporary contact lenses to moisten the eyes may also be considered. In rare cases, dry eye syndrome may be permanent.

If you are at a particularly high risk of dry eye syndrome following blepharoplasty, you may wish to consider non-surgical alternatives, such as anti-ageing injectables. Although this does not produce the same long-lasting results as eyelid surgery, it may be preferable to potentially exacerbating dry eye syndrome.

Your surgeon will go through all the potential risks associated with eyelid reduction surgery at your initial consultation to decide whether blepharoplasty is the best treatment for you.

We have invited a selection of the country's very best consultants to join us at the Cadogan Clinic so that you can be sure that whatever the nature of your treatment, you will be seeing one of the top practitioners in the country.

Book an appointment today to discuss your potential blepharoplasty with a member of our team.

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