You don’t have to say a word to “speak volumes,” thanks to the power of your eyes; however, sometimes the beauty and even the proper, healthy function of your eyes can be diminished by a common condition called “ptosis.” Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Edmund Kwan discusses the many types of eyelid ptosis and treatment in the NYC area, available at his three offices and designed to take years off of the appearance of your face and to restore clear vision.
Open your eyes to ptosis.
This condition refers to droopy eyelids. Also known as blepharoptosis, this upper eyelid droop can affect both eyes and varies dramatically in its severity. We’ve seen patients whose upper lid falls just enough to be noticeable and bothersome. Other patients’ droop covers the pupil that allows light into your eyes. Healthy vision is limited or even blocked by severe ptosis. Like our patients, there are many unique forms of ptosis that generally fall into one of two categories:
- Congenital or childhood ptosis
- Acquired or adult ptosis
Sometimes, children are born with impaired levator muscles. This muscle is responsible for lifting the eyelid. While drooping is the most obvious sign of ptosis, your child may also tend to tip his or her head back, or regularly raise their eyebrows to see or read better due to the uneven way the upper eyelid creases line up with each other. Ptosis in childhood may be accompanied by additional ocular problems, such as eye movement disorders. It’s important to get correction promptly, because over time your child may be at risk of developing other vision-oriented problems like lazy eye, crossed eyes, or astigmatism.
Just because you were born with ptosis doesn’t necessarily mean you have or are at significant risk of developing an ocular problem. Many Asian and Caucasian patients alike are simply born with what appears to be droopy eyelids, which can give you a perpetually tired or aged look. We take great pride in achieving the bright-eyed look you’ve always wanted.
Sometimes, patients who were born with that big, wide-eyed appearance develop the condition over time. Acquired ptosis has many causes, including:
- Aging — Known as aponeurotic ptosis, this condition arises when the levator muscles are overly stretched.
- Long-time contacts use — If your contact lenses are frequently irritated, you may rub your eyes and inadvertently pull the lids without realizing it. This habit, too, can stretch out the lid’s muscles.
- Medical conditions — Disorders like myasthenia gravis and third nerve palsy cause neurogenic ptosis, which affects the nerve pathways that control muscular movement.
- Systemic disorders — Conditions like muscular dystrophy and progressive ophthalmoplegia are associated with myogenic ptosis, caused by muscle wasting that also weakens levator muscles.
Still other causes of ptosis include masses that weigh down the eyelid, and traumatic ptosis following an accident or traumatic injury that compromises the eye muscles.
The good news is ptosis can be corrected at our offices. By treating the muscle so frequently responsible for this condition, we can achieve or restore a more natural and attractive appearance. For children, factors such as the patient’s age and eyelid height will be taken into account, whereas for adults this common outpatient procedure is well-tolerated and usually involves numbing the treatment site. Sedation can also help you relax in the treatment chair. The idea is to adjust or lift the levator muscle. Through a small incision in the skin of the eyelid, we’ll reposition the levator muscle, which results in an elevated lid that is both more cosmetically appealing and improves your vision. Throughout the procedure, we’ll also ask you to make specific eye movements because this helps us determine how wide the lid should open. Since the incision is made in the crease, any potential scarring is well-hidden.
Correcting the eyelid has some surprising cosmetic benefits. You may immediately notice an improvement in the appearance of frown lines on the forehead. Your forehead muscles are no longer making up for the muscular weakness in the eyelids. They’ll be able to function as they were intended, rather than helping to lift the lids, resulting in an immediate wrinkle-softening effect.