As we age, gravity affects every part of our body, even the skin and muscles of our eyes. The skin around our eyes loses elasticity and the muscle tone in our eyelids decreases. Over time, this may result in droopy eyelids, or ptosis.
The muscle that lifts the eyelid is called the levator muscle, and when it stretches or weakens it becomes harder to keep the eyes fully open. This may occur in one or both eyelids as we age. However, age is not the only cause of droopy eyelids. Ptosis can also be congenital when the levator muscle fails to develop properly in utero, as was the case with the famous actor, director, and producer Forest Whitaker.
In addition, medical conditions such as an eye injury, nerve damage, or tumors can cause the upper eyelid to droop lower than normal. Regardless of the cause, droopy eyelids are not just a cosmetic concern. If a droopy eyelid covers part of your pupil, then your vision will be affected. Ptosis can restrict or even completely block normal vision.
How Droopy Eyelids Are Corrected
Fortunately, droopy eyelids can be corrected to improve vision as well as appearance. The other good news is that when droopy eyelids are affecting your vision, treatment is considered medically necessary, which means insurance typically covers the procedure. Many patients are surprised when they hear that insurance typically covers droopy eyelid surgery because it’s one of the most common misperceptions that eyelid surgery is purely cosmetic.
Ptosis surgery, or blepharoplasty, is done as an outpatient procedure in your ophthalmologist’s office. Depending on the severity of the ptosis, the surgeon makes adjustments to the lid’s levator muscle. To help the eyelid lift properly, extra skin or fat from the eyelid may also be removed. For more severe cases of ptosis, the levator muscle may need to be strengthened and reattached to the eyelid.
Sometimes, people who are undergoing surgery to correct ptosis of the upper eyelids choose to have the skin beneath their lower eyelids tightened at the same time to reduce the appearance of sagging eyebags. While correction of the upper eyelids is often a functional, medically necessary procedure that’s covered by insurance, tightening the lower lid area for cosmetic purposes only is not typically covered by insurance.
In addition to surgery, there are nonsurgical procedures that can help correct the appearance of droopy eyelids or sagging under-eye bags. Injections such as Botox and hyaluronic acid fillers can help tighten sagging skin and smooth out wrinkles around the eyes.
If you’re concerned about droopy eyelids, know that there are procedures that can correct this condition. At Baptist Eye Surgeons, Dr. Anzeljc performs both functional and cosmetic procedures such as blepharoplasty to lift eyelids and reduce eye bags, Botox for wrinkles, filler injections, and brow lifts. He notes that cosmetic procedures are becoming more commonplace for men as well as women.
Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice dedicated to providing quality eye care to patients whose needs range from routine comprehensive eye examinations to the treatment of complex eye diseases. To request an appointment or get directions to our Knoxville and Morristown locations, visit our website. Call us at 865-579-3920 for more information or visit us online to schedule an appointment.