Upper Bleph: Only Regret is Not Having Done This Sooner - Tennessee

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I knew I was probably going to have this done at...

I knew I was probably going to have this done at some point because small eyes with droopy eyelids run in my family. My mother had them as she aged and so did her mother. My mother waited until her eyes were reduced to tiny slits before she had the surgery, and I waited almost as long out of fear of ending up looking like Joan Rivers, Bruce Jenner, or worse. You see so many photos of wealthy celebrities with plastic surgery gone wrong!  I also couldn't justify spending thousands of dollars for cosmetic surgery.

When my family doctor and optometrist both urged me to get my eyes repaired and said they felt sure insurance would cover it, I finally made the appointment. I went with the opthamologist highly recommended by my optometrist. He is an oculoplastic surgeon, and I liked the idea of an eye doctor doing the surgery in case anything went wrong.

The Dr. took measurements and noted my brow had fallen somewhat and mentioned the insurance wouldn't pay for a brow lift. The idea of a brow lift scared me, but he didn't push it at all. I took a vision test, then got a call about a month later saying the insurance would cover the eyelid procedure. The $4,800 figure = insurance payment + my payments. I wound up paying $1,067 out of pocket, but I have a high deductible.

Two nights before the Big Day, I experienced what looked like flashing lightning bolts and floaters in my eyes while using the computer. This was totally out of the blue, went on about 20 minutes, and scared me to death. The doctor examined me the next day and said I was OK, no retinal damage, and we could move forward with the surgery.

On top of that, a major ice storm with power outages was predicted for the morning of the surgery, and I live 40 minutes away, so I was extremely nervous and had little sleep. It didn't help that I watched a movie about an evil doctor the night before. (Not my idea btw--what was he thinking of!) The procedure itself took about an hour and 15 minutes at an outpatient surgery center. I was given what I guess was intravenous Valium or a similar drug. When I woke up, the Dr. was talking to me and apparently finishing up the stitches because I felt a little sting. I was lucid enough to participate in a conversation about vintage TV shows with the Dr. and OR staff. I was extremely thirsty and the recovery room nurse gave me cups of orange juice. She also applied a cool, wet gauze pad to my eyes almost immediately. I was able to dress myself pretty quickly without assistance, to the nurse's surprise.

Because I have neck problems, my chiropractor said I'd have to use a recliner and absolutely could not sleep with stacked pillows or a wedge under my head after the surgery. Since I don't own a recliner, I rented this one http://tinyurl.com/nx63zsu from Rent-a-Center, which was one of the best things I did for the recovery period. This recliner seemed perfectly sized for a woman, wasn't one of those huge ones.

Being a side sleeper, I was scared to death I'd lose sleep in the recliner, but the opposite was true. I really believe this helped keep the swelling down and I know it kept me from turning over on my face and possibly damaging my eyes. I got it a week in advance and slept in it for the first 3 weeks after surgery--until the guys came to take it back. I also used a soft mask that I was given for eye protection before I left the surgery center. I slept peacefully every night with no problems at all. Best sleep I've had in years, in fact. No stiff neck or aching back. I'm going to buy one now!

Be warned that my chiropractor said afterward that for many people with neck problems, sleeping in a recliner would be uncomfortable. I don't know why it worked for me. I did roll up a towel, secure it with safety pins, and keep that around my neck while I slept. He said this would keep me from rolling sideways and possibly hurting my eyes.

I had no problems with nausea and was given an anti-nausea drug on the front end. Pain was minimal, as many have noted. I took a 500 mg hydrocodone in the recovery room at the surgery center, and another one later after I got home. Probably could've skipped that second one. Next day it was Extra Strength Tylenol a few times and then nothing.

Bruising wasn't as bad or extensive as I feared and was 95% gone by 10 days. I did a lot of icing using frozen corn in small ziploc bags for the first few days. I laid 4x4" gauze pads dipped in ice water on my eyes, then put the ziplocs on top of that. I went through a lot of gauze pads; luckily I'd bought an extra supply beforehand, as I ran out of what the nurse gave me.

The doctor does not believe Arnica and Bromelain help with bruising, so I didn't take them. I did eat pineapple every day after the surgery and tried to eat especially well in the weeks leading up to and after. Lots of protein, vegetables, and 500 mg Ester C three times a day plus other vitamins and minerals including zinc that I normally take. I avoided wine for a week before and after, and excessive salt for several weeks after. I've seen first hand what alcohol, salt and lack of sleep do to my eyes, and it's not pretty. Also avoided all the things on the long list they gave me pre-surgery, most of which I don't take anyhow.

I made the mistake of forgetting and bending over to get something out of a lower cabinet on the first or second day. I felt it immediately! Blood came out of my sutures. After that, I was VERY careful to follow the instructions about not bending or lifting for several weeks.

My eyesight was blurry for awhile and I couldn't wait to get off that ointment the Dr. had me apply to the sutured area. I had a hard time using the computer and had to increase the view size. Even after I stopped the ointment, 2 weeks post surgery my eyesight was still not 100% right. I also have dry eye and it got worse, along with a gritty feeling.  I was using Thera Tears 4-7 times a day and have now cut back to 3-4. 

Getting the stitches out 6 days after was quick, with only a minor sting or two. I was very concerned about my eyes not looking symmetrical at that point, but the Dr. sort of brushed this off by saying my eyes weren't symmetrical to start with. I wish he'd just told me to be patient instead.

I enjoyed my 10 days off work and basically chilled out and relaxed. Started taking walks outside with sunglasses on the second day after surgery.

The Dr. did what he called "very conservative" surgery. I'm sure the insurance restrictions had something to do with this, but I'd also told him my fears about looking over-corrected. During the first month especially, my eyes seemed to look different every morning. I wasn't sure what I was going to see when I woke up. Sometimes it would upset me, but I tried hard not to obsess over day-to-day changes. That was hard.

When I went back to work, no one said anything, nor has anyone I know said a word since. I have small eyes and wear glasses, so maybe that's why. In reality I suspect it's because nobody's scrutinizing my eyes like I am.

At three months, the scars are noticeable to me if I close my eyes. However, my brow aesthetician says she has seen a lot of lid surgery and my scars look fantastic for three months out. I've used only light coatings of Vaseline or Aquaphor ointment on the scars, per Dr's instructions.

One scar in the corner near my nose was a lot more raised than I'd like, but one morning recently I awoke and it had magically flattened out. One that extends past the outer edge of the other eye is pink. I know he had to remove a lot of skin, and the skin on that part doesn't heal as fast. I went back several weeks ago and the Dr said the scars are within "normal range." He offered to put a shot of Kenalog in the most noticeable scar, but I declined.

One of my eyelids still feels tight and like something is under it (scar tissue?). It also seems a little harder to lift the eyelid on that eye. Dr. couldn't find anything wrong, but I'll have him look at it again if this continues. This, too, sort of magically got better one morning this week, but is not totally gone yet.

One of my lids also has some slight hooding, but I can live with it if it stays this way even though I look like some younger women's "before" photos.  I've noticed both eyelids tend to droop toward the end of the day, probably from too much computer use. They usually look ok when I wake up nowadays.

I would have liked more follow-up visits included in the price; I only had two plus a third that I had to request.

Hopefully this helps someone contemplating or about to have this surgery. My only regret is that I waited so long. Looking at photos from as far back as 20 years ago, I can see now I should have had it done then as a cosmetic procedure.  I definitely think my eyes look better.  I'm not trying to look 20; I'm just glad to have eyelids again.

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