What is Oculoplastic Surgery?
Oculoplastic surgery is the term for surgical procedures of and around the eyelids. Various ageing processes occur in the skin as we age leading to loss of skin elasticity. The effect of this on the eyelid structures include:
- Excess or hooding of the skin of the upper eyelids
- A drop in the eyebrow position
The lower eyelid should be like a taut clothes line, however excess laxity of the lower eyelids can lead to a drop in the lower eyelid (called an ectropion) or the opposite effect where the lower eyelid can roll inwards causing the eyelashes to rub on the eyeball (called an entropion)
- Chronic sun exposure to the face without skin protection or moisturizing can damage the facial skin and cause it to contract. This has the effect of pulling down the eyelid again leading to an ectropion. This is a fairly commonly encountered condition by oculoplastic surgeons in Australia.
- A drop in the upper eyelid position; this is known as a ptosis.
The role of oculoplastic surgery is to restore normal eyelid function and cosmesis as best of possible.
Commonly performed oculoplastic operations include:
- An upper eyelid blepharoplasty (removing excess skin).
- Lifting the upper eyelid (ptosis correction).
- A blepahroptosis operation (removing excess skin and lifting the eyelid together).
- Lifting the eyebrow (brow lift).
- A Lateral tarsal strip (“to tighten the clothes line” and stop the lower eyelid sagging or rolling in).
- Lifting the lower eyelid with a skin graft (in eyelids with very sun damaged skin).
Periocular Skin Cancer
Oculoplastic surgery also is required to removed periocular skin cancers. The facial and eyelid skin is a common site for skin cancer due to chronic exposure to UV radiation from sunlight. Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world. In the eyelid the commonest skin cancers are Basal Cell Carcinomas (shortened to BCCs) and then Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCCs).