Orbital Decompression Surgery - San Francisco, CA

I have battled with Graves Disease for the past 2...

I have battled with Graves Disease for the past 2 years. It has completely destroyed my self confidence. I would not wish this disease on my worse enemy. I've noticed over the last 2 years that there really isn't a lot of testimony or bloggers on the internet detailing their experience with Graves. So I've decided to use this forum to due just that. To make a very long story short, my eyes have bulged out of my head which has caused me to experience extreme dry eye, corneal damage, and vision changes.
I am scheduled for Orbital Decompression Surgery with Dr. Robert Kersten at UCSF Medical Center. He will be creating more space for my eyes by decompressing the lateral wall and floor of my orbital socket. Additionally, he plans to perform fat removal.
I'm not sure if it was a good or bad decision to have both eyes operated on separately, but the right eye surgery is September 13th and the left will be October 2nd. I plan to update this site with pictures of my progress. I have posted pictures of my eyes prior to Graves and currently. Please share your experiences and ask me as many questions as your heart desires.
Last but certainly not least, please keep me in your prayers as I move forward with my procedure.


Thinking of you! Hope you are doing ok!
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I'm so sorry to hear that this disease is destroying your self-confidence.  Thank you so much for starting a review about your journey.  You are right, it will be incredibly valuable to the Graves community to hear your story.  Best of luck with both surgeries (thinking about you today during your first surgery)!  I look forward to following your review. 

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Cali_Mar, Best wishes with your surgery. Look forward to seeing your results. Many Blessings.
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Day 1 Post Right Eye OD Surgery

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement. I was a nervous wreck yesterday to say the least. Today I probably look opposite of what I feel...Great!! I'm in minimal pain and only taking Tylenol. My right eye is very swollen and stitched closed. I don't have the numbness that a lot of bloggers have complained of. I'm glad I didn't wake up feeling hit by a bus. This picture is a hot mess so hold your cookies :-)


May you have an amazing testimony after you "win" this battle. To God Be the GLORY!
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Yay! You did it! Of course we all looked gorgeous right after....... NOT!! I scared my family for a couple of those days when I was really purple and swollen! Yikes! haha! But, you know what, you will be so surprised how fast the healing process is, and it gets better and better each day! You won't regret it! Thanks for posting!
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i was thinking about you yesterday please keep us updated praying for you Cali_Mar

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Post op Day 11

I can see!!! Thank goodness there is no double vision (just my usual ghosting). Thank goodness I have had NO complications. All of my fears regarding this surgery have been put to rest. Now I'm dealing with being patient and letting the healing process occur :-p 11 day post op and I have minimal swelling and the bruising is getting better each day. I've finished my course of antibiotics and prednisone and require no pain meds. I do have a little soreness and numbness in the front right quarter on my head, but I guess thats normal when you just had part of your skull/orbit removed :-) No numbness anyplace else. Thank God!!!
I feel comfortable going into my next surgery for my left eye. I'm very anxious to not look like a gOoglly eyed emoticon anymore!!

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Post op day 10 photo

Day 10


I noticed another Community Member recently had orbital decompression surgery, you can connect with them by clicking on their username: Bella213

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Looking good!  One down, one to go!!

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Cali_Mar, Wow, I am tickled with delight for you....very nice results, Congratulations! Thanks for sharing, wish you many BLESSINGS!
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Day 19

Still seeing improvements. Slowly but surely seeing glimpses of my old self :-) Round 2 tomorrow. Keep me in your prayers.


You are BEAUTIFUL! What a very nice outcome. Many people don't realize the courage it takes to "go under the knife". Best wishes to you!

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Nearly there!!! The very best of luck. Can't wait to see pics.
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5 days Post Op 2nd Surgery

I am five days postop my second surgery and I must say the healing process has been much quicker. I think it's looking pretty good. Right now I just have a little bit of soreness when I look to the left and also a little double vision. I think my left eye looks a bit crossed which is causing the double vision but I still have a lot of swelling so it's probably too early to tell.


Are you required to do anything special as you are healing? I am so happy for you. Look forward to seeing your results once you are healed.
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Wow even with the swelling you can see a huge difference in your overall appearance.  Looking forward to seeing how everything settles!

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Wow, so happy for you! It's great that the healing is going quickly and that you have NO complications! Now you can just relax and let it heal, and each day is better than the last! I am only a month (plus a few days) out from my eyelid surgery, and I am VERY pleased. Every day brings a bit of progress! Congratulations!
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10 days post op left OD

So I think I'm healing pretty well. The scar is still a little pink and I have dark circles around my eyes but a WHAT A DIFFERENCE!! The only thing I'm dealing with is double vision and a little soreness. I'm hoping the double vision will improve. If not, I could be looking at a 3rd surgery. I have zero regrets :-)


You look wonderful! Congratulations!
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Ohhhhh my goodness!! Look at YOU! You look fantastic! You are healing so fast! I could not be happier for you! Just seeing your new photo update made me smile so much!! Amazing!
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The only thing special I was asked to do was ice for about three days then heat as needed. I bought a scar serum to help minimize the appearance but that's about it. I can't wait to see the final result. It looks better each day :-)

My time off is over

So I've been on leave for both procedures. Total time off has been about 38 days. I finally go back on Monday. There are things about my vision that still are not 100% (ie double vision and a little asymmetry. My Dr and I will be re-addressing those issues in 2 weeks. I am so so happy with the outcome though. I have 2 more weeks before I can hit the gym again. I have been dying to get a run in!

Things that I learned:
1. Be patient and let the healing process take place. Doing too much too fast only extends rehabilitation time.
2. I had 2.5 weeks off after each procedure. 2 weeks would've been sufficient, 1 week would've been pushing it.
3. You absolutely need help after the procedure for atleast 3 days. My husband took great care of me and made sure to keep me on schedule with my drugs.
4. The surgery was not painful for me. The worse pain I experienced was maybe a 4/10 right after the procedure. I took OTC Tylenol most days. I took Oxycodone for the first week just at night.
5. Sleeping with my head elevated helped tons with the swelling. I iced every 30 minutes for the first 4 days then switched to heat as needed. I used frozen peas in sandwich bags for ice. I rotated about 4 bags.
My right eye was more of a complicated case so the healing was longer. But using this schedule, most of the swelling was down after 1 week in my left eye.

Well those are all the tips I can think of right now. If I remember anything else I'll update the blog. Thanks for all of your kind words and encouragement. You have no idea how much that means to me. I feel like I can go out of the house and have people stare at me wondering why my eyes are the way they are....were :-) It is a big adjustment when you're accustomed to looking one way and then everything changes. I just Thank God there is a procedure that can reverse most of the damage.
If I can be of help to anyone suffering from Graves please email me at cookma0@msn.com. I've attached my latest progression shot.


Im so happy for you I dont knw what its like to be in your shoes however i knw what it is like to feel so bad about appearance. You are beautiful and wish you well. I am in hopes for eye lid tightening im so tired of people asking me am I tired.
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Thank you so much for posting this. It has been very helpful and you certainly look gorgeous now.
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Thank you so much!

7 months post OD

Hello everyone,
It's been a minute since I've given an update on my progress. Last post I shared that there could be a chance for a second surgery to address mild double vision and maybe even a third for some asymmetry. Well Dr Kersten suggested we wait about 6 months to see how things have healed and revisit at that point. 7 months out and my vision is about 90%. I was told that I now have astigmatism so a visit to an optometrist could be worth my while. I only have double visit when looking to my far left and there is only mild asymmetry of my eyes. Overall none of my complaints are serious enough to warrant anymore surgeries!!! I'm so happy with my outcome! There are some things I will probably have to deal with forever due to thyroid eye disease. When I think of how annoying some of those things are, I have to stop and remember the condition I came from to put things back into perspective. A little light sensitivity and mild swelling in the mornings are nothing compared to what I endured before surgery.
I posted my 7 month progress shot. I have received many emails requesting information about the procedure and my journey. The primary question I get is about cost and insurance coverage. My procedure was covered 100% by the US Air Force (I'm active duty). According to the statements I did receive after the procedure, the approximate total cost for both eyes when getting them done separately @ UCSF was $75-80k. I'm sure that cost could decrease if both eyes are done at the same time.
Please continue to email and share your journey. It's always comforting to know you're not experiencing this along. Graves with moderate to severe thyroid eye disease isn't a condition that a lot of people can relate to. I'm always here to support.


Holy moly!! Cali, you look fricken UNBELIEVABLE!! Seriously, you look like a Victoria's Secret model! In the before photo you look a lot like me- really huge eyes; the only thing is, I don't have Graves Disease, I inherited ginormous eyes from my father and I've copped it ever since. I've never felt feminine or beautiful but seeing your photos and reading your story has given me the courage and determination to undergo the same procedure. Thank you so much for sharing and giving others hope.
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Hi Nuala! Thank you so much for your kind words. Deciding to have an orbital decompression was a hard decision for me because of fear and the feeling of guilt for feeling I was being a bit vain. I prayed about it and honestly it was the best decision I ever made. You are so lucky that you don't have to deal with the symptoms of Graves. I was miserable before my surgery. I wish you the best of luck in moving forward with you surgery. The best advice I could give to you is to find a good occuloplastic surgeon. Feel free to email me with questions cookma0@msn.com Maria
I just had this done, I hope I end up looking as nice as you. My eyes used to bug out and I had severe hollowing. It was bad. I'm 3 days post-op. My dr is a specialist in ENT, reconstructive surgery and plastic surgery. At first I looked horrible, but I'm getting better. It looks like your dr restored your eyes to how they used to look. You were always beautiful in all the pics but I understand how you felt about the eyes hence the reason I had mine done. I wanted to have the old me back bad ppl to stop thinking I was "high" or something due to how bad mine bugged out. It actually freaked out a couple friends. Then underneath they began to severely hollow out and my vision would blur bad. I honestly can say I don't think I'm going to look like I used to, only an improved version of what my dr had to work with. He didn't mess me up by no means I was just a lot of work. You are very beautiful and it's encouraging to see your post. I'm done with my face and I plan to get braces. No more surgery for me if I can help it ;D
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Dr. Robert Kersten

Dr. Kersten has the credentials that any patient would be happy to see from their surgeon; but it is a pain in the rear to see him for appointments. Be prepared to wait a minimum of 2 hours once you arrive for your appointment. Since he is ALWAYS behind schedule he is not as attentive, explanatory/detailed, or warm and fuzzy as one might want from a doctor. As rushed as he may seem during the appointments, I find that he gave me just enough to make me fully confident that he will take care of me while under the knife. If you are searching for an Occuloplastic Surgeon to answer your million questions and with exemplary bed side manner, he is not the one. If you value the comfort of years of experience/knowledge, I would try him out.

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