The eyes are one of the most defining aspects of the face—if not the most defining aspect—and often reveal our deepest emotions. Unfortunately, our facial appearance often doesn’t reflect our inner vitality, especially as the years unfold and we advance in age. Wrinkles, under eye bags, crepey skin, and fine lines that form around the eye area can make men and women appear tired, haggard, and older than they actually are. Double board-certified cosmetic surgeon Dr. Timothy Greco routinely performs surgery to address signs of aging, as well as other facial plastic surgery procedures, at his Philadelphia-area practice. He explains that eyelid surgery, the medical term for which is blepharoplasty, is a popular choice for patients looking to restore the natural beauty of the eyes.
Skin that is close to the eye area is particularly thin and fragile. The word “crepey” is used to describe something that resembles the crinkled surface of thin crepe paper. This isn’t a quality most people would want to associate with their skin, yet intrinsic aging often leads to the fragile, non-elastic tissues that contribute to a wrinkled appearance. This is because older skin produces less collagen and elastin, the proteins used to maintain its strength and elastic quality. To make matters worse, the layer of fat beneath the skin becomes thinner over time, even as we simultaneously lose a significant amount of moisture. Women often go through hormonal changes that further dry out the skin, starting roughly in their 50s.
However, aging isn’t the only factor to blame for the unattractive creases, drooping skin, and other problems that can impact the eye area. Genetics also play a strong role. While smoking can cause skin quality to deteriorate due to the harmful effects of nicotine, excess sun exposure, too, breaks down connective tissues in the skin, emphasizing signs of aging. Furthermore, sleep deprivation or disruption gives the eyelids a puffy appearance, as it causes fluid to accumulate.
Patients who want to ensure their eye area stays as youthful-looking as possible will want to pay attention to dietary factors as well: A high intake of salt increases water retention, adding to a bloated look, while eating large amounts of sugar is said to accelerate the aging process of the skin.
Eye wrinkles may seem to appear overnight, or can gradually worsen as years go by. This is because eyelids’ support structures lose their ability to successfully hold up skin and fat in the area over time, causing fluid and fat to sink downward with gravity.
Plastic surgeons who perform blepharoplasty surgery make strategic incisions along the natural fold of the upper eyelid, on the lash line of the lower eyelid, or on the inside of the lower lid. Skin and fat may be repositioned or removed as necessary. At the same time, muscles and tendons may be adjusted for a tighter look. Removable sutures, surgical glue, or tape are used to close the incisions.
Blepharoplasty may be performed for functional reasons—such as to improve the field of vision or fix deformities—but it is also a cosmetic option for creating a more youthful facial appearance. The idea is to smooth and tighten the upper and lower eyelid area and surrounding skin, while also ensuring that the resulting small scars are not noticeable. There is a demand for eyelid surgery among both men and women, although studies show that women more frequently choose the surgery.
In preparation for eyelid surgery, your surgeon will begin by examining your overall medical history and current state of your health, as well determining your overall goals and expectations from the procedure. Following your physician’s instructions will help to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible on the day of the surgery.
To find out more about eyelid surgery and other types of facial plastic surgery from Philadelphia-based Timothy M. Greco, MD, PC, send a message online or call (610) 664-8830.