Blepharoplasty and Brow Lift in Boston


Named Among the Best Plastic Surgeons in Boston

Helena O. Taylor MD, PHD, FACS & Stephen R. Sullivan MD, MPH, FACS

Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty) can be a very powerful means of rejuvenating the upper face.

As we age the upper lid deflates laterally, and the skin loses elasticity, collagen, and muscle tone. The upper eyelid skin becomes heavy and droopy, obscuring the upper eyelid crease, and fat builds and bulges medially towards the nose. The youthful face has no clear delineation between the lower lid and cheek. With time and gravity the soft tissues of the cheek descend, the orbital septum and fat bulges and creates "bags" under the eyes, and a "tear trough" develops as a shadowed delineation between the lower eyelid and cheek.

Often this change in lower eyelid shape is accompanied by thinning of the skin, loss of elasticity, and decreased muscle tone. Drooping, sagging, and puffy eyelids are one of the first signs of facial aging, making people look tired, angry, or haggard when that is not how they feel. Surgery can be performed on the upper lids (upper lid blepharoplasty) lower lids (lower lid blepharoplasty), and can, when necessary be combined with a brow lift.

Blepharoplasty & Brow Lift

A brow lift is a procedure that is performed when the eyebrows and forehead skin have fallen or become ptotic.

Boston Blepharoplasty

For a woman, the eyebrows should rest above the bony ridge and have a youthful and beautiful curve outward. For a man, the eyebrows should rest at the bony ridge and be relatively straight. The eyebrow and forehead skin, like the upper eyelids, loose elasticity, collagen, and muscle tone.

The eyebrows and forehead can also become heavy and droopy, worsening the upper eyelid appearance as well, leading to a tired and aged appearance. Patients with brow ptosis or falling compensate by flexing their frontalis muscle to lift their eyebrows, which is exhausting, leads to forehead strain and creates the problem of forehead wrinkles or creases (learn more about Botox or Dysport to treat forehead wrinkles). Some patients may benefit from a brow lift, or an upper eyelid lift, or both.

PROCEDURES FOR EYELID REJUVENATION AND BROW LIFT

Upper lid blepharoplasty involves the removal of redundant skin and sometimes a small amount of fat and muscle.

Upper Blepharoplasty

If the upper eyelid is droopy or ptotic, the levator muscle can be tightened to correct this. The scar is typically inconspicuous and hidden in the upper lid crease. The trade of contour for a scar, which is often very hard to find, tends to be a very good one. This simple high yield procedure brightens the eye and periorbital area without changing the look of a face or the shape of the eye.

It can be performed under local anesthetic in the office, or with sedation in the operating room if preferred. While bruising and swelling for the first few days is expected, our Boston blepharoplasty patients typically have very little discomfort. A cold compress or ice pack can reduce swelling and bruising. Sutures are removed at 5-7 days after surgery, and we follow you regularly thereafter. Some patients may also wish to combine upper lid surgery with other facial rejuvenation procedures such as Botox or Dysport, fillers, facial fat transfer, browlift, facelift, or neck lift.

Lower Blepharoplasty

Lower lid blepharoplasty can be performed for people with bulging lower lids, fat pads, extra skin, and/or a prominent “tear trough” between the lid and the cheek. For patients with the appropriate anatomy, and without a history of dry eye, lower eyelid blepharoplasty can be performed to reposition the fat, tighten and smooth the lower eyelid skin.

Patients with a history of dry eye are considered poor candidates for lower eyelid surgery, as lower eyelid blepharoplasty can worsen dry eye. Patients with low muscle tone or delayed "snap back" test of the lower eyelid may require lower eyelid tightening with a lateral canthopexy and patients with very low muscle tone not be good candidates for comprehensive lower eyelid rejuvenation.

Eyelid Lift (Blepharoplasty) At A Glance

IDEAL BLEPHAROPLASTY CANDIDATE

  • Excess skin or droopy eyelids

WHAT BLEPHAROPLASTY DOES

  • Removes excess skin and fat
  • Youthful appearance

DURATION OF RESULT

Years

LENGTH OF PROCEDURE

1-2 hours

TYPES OF ANESTHESIA

Local for upper eyelids

Sedation (sleepy) or General Anesthesia (asleep) for lower eyelids

RECOVERY

  • Comfortably at home
  • Most swelling resolves – 2 weeks upper eyelids, 6 weeks lower eyelids

TIME OFF WORK

5-7 days

TIME OFF ACTIVITIES

  • Activities of daily living – 1 day
  • Light exercise – 3-5 days
  • Full exercise – 2 weeks

Lower Blepharoplasty Procedure

We typically access the lower eyelid through incisions inside the eyelid, known as a transconjunctival approach. This approach allows access to release the septum and tear trough ligaments, reposition the fat, and smooth the contour between the lid and the cheek. A small amount of skin is then removed just beneath the eyelash line.

In order to prevent lower lid malposition, often a tightening the lower eyelid horizontally with a lateral canthopexy is necessary. The lateral canthopexy restores the shape of the eye, which should slope upward laterally in women and be straight across in men rather than sagging downward and looking tired. Lower lid surgery is more involved than upper lid surgery, and our preference is to perform lower lid blepharoplasty under sedation or general anesthesia.

Blepharoplasty & Fat Grafting

We often favor combining lower eyelid lift with fat grafting to the cheeks to restore midfacial volume, support for the lower eyelids and blend the lower eyelid to cheek junction for a natural appearance. The procedure takes approximately one to two hours and is done in the operating room. While bruising and swelling for the first few days can be expected, patients typically have very little discomfort. Cold compresses or icepacks can reduce swelling and bruising.

Sutures are removed at 5-7 days after surgery, and we follow you regularly thereafter. Lower eyelid surgery carries the risks of lower eyelid malposition and exacerbation of dry eye. Lower lid surgery can change the shape of the eye more than upper lid surgery. We will carefully evaluate your individual anatomy and medical history to determine if lower eyelid blepharoplasty is a good idea for you.

Brow Lift Surgery

Brow lift surgery is usually performed under sedation or general anesthetic while gentle and precise eyebrow position is restored. The procedure takes approximately one hour and when combined with eyelid lift may take two hours. While bruising and swelling for the first few days is expected, our Boston brow lift patients typically have very little discomfort. Cold compress or icepacks can reduce swelling and bruising.

Sutures are removed at 5-7 days after surgery, and we follow you regularly thereafter. A brow or forehead lift can involve endoscopic approaches with incisions placed on the scalp and hidden in the hair or direct removal of skin along the hairline. The scars will always be there though they typically heal inconspicuously.

Alternatives To Blepharoplasty And Brow Lift

For patients who are not ideal candidates for a safe and natural appearing result with brow lift surgery or blepharoplasty Boston plastic surgeons, Dr. Taylor and Dr. Sullivan may offer some alternatives.

Boston Blepharoplasty

Muscles that pull the eyelids down, the corrugator muscles along the medial eyebrows and the orbicularis muscles along the lateral eyebrows, can be treated with botulinum toxins such as Botox or Dysport to soften the muscles. This allows the eyebrows and upper eyelids to drift up and open the eyes. At the same time the heavy wrinkles around the eyelids and eyebrows are reduced.

The tear trough deformity and heavy shadows of the lower eyelids can be filled with fat grafting or fillers such as Restylane, Juvederm, or Versa. Filling the tear trough blends the eyelid to cheek junction and also helps support the lower eyelid. Topical treatments such as Retin A may be helpful with fine wrinkles and Preparation H may be helpful with swollen bags under the eyes.

Benefits Of Blepharoplasty And Brow Lift

Upper eyelid blepharoplasty is one of the highest yield ways of brightening a face that is starting to look tired. It is a relatively painless procedure, that can be done under straight local anesthetic in the office. For some patients, a brow lift can help elevate the brows and reduce the fullness of the upper lids. Lower lid blepharoplasty in the right patient, can smooth the junction from the lower lid to the cheek, but is more involved, and carries more risk than upper lid surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate for blepharoplasty?

Most patients with extra upper eyelid skin can consider upper lid blepharoplasty. Patients with dry eye, poor elasticity, and recessed cheeks may not be ideal candidates for lower lid surgery.

Will there be a scar?

The eyelids tend to make better scar than almost anywhere else on the body. While everyone scars differently It is often hard to find the eyelid scars.

When can I go back to work?

Although the surgery is not typically painful, it may look like it should be painful! While everyone bruises differently, a fair amount of bruising and swelling the first week is common. The sutures are removed at 5-7 days, and while you may look much more presentable by then, some patients have residual bruising for another week or two. Lower lids often take longer to fully recover.

What are the risks of eyelid surgery?

Bruising and swelling are expected and occur in everyone to some extent. For some upper lid surgery patients there may be temporary inability to completely close the lids (lagophthalmos), which typically resolve in a day or two. Poor scarring, lower lid malposition, significant bleeding, or changes in vision are the dreaded risks of blepharoplasty which we work hard to avoid.

BLEPHAROPLASTY (EYELID LIFT) INSTRUCTIONS

  • In the week before your operation:
    • Consider eating pineapple, it may help reduce bruising
    • Consider supplementing with Arnica montana, it may help reduce bruising
    • Complete household chores and prepare meals for the first few days of postoperative recovery
    • Follow preoperative instructions with eating, drinking, and medications
  • Please take your medications as directed by Dr. Taylor or Dr. Sullivan to manage discomfort or symptoms.
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) 1000 mg every 8 hours, space doses 4 hours after Ibuprofen so one or the other is taken every 4 hours
    • Ibuprofen (Motrin) 800 mg every 8 hours, space doses 4 hours after Acetaminophen so one or the other is taken every 4 hours
    • Vitamin C 500 mg daily for 50 days
    • Eye drops
    • Eye ointment
  • During the day, apply eye drops (available over the counter such as Refresh Plus) in each eye (2-3 drops) at least 5-7 times daily. Eye drops moisturize the eyes and provide soothing relief for dryness and irritation.
  • At bedtime, apply eye ointment (available over the counter such as Refresh PM) in each eye inside the lower. The ointment helps protect the eyes from nighttime dryness and exposure. It may make your vision temporarily blurry, but it will resolve as the ointment washes away during the night.
  • We may prescribe Tobradex eye drops - 3 drops in each eye 3 times per day for the first 5 days if we think it would be helpful.
  • After surgery it is best for you to keep your head elevated when in bed.
  • You may apply ice packs to the area around the eyes for the first 48 hours to reduce swelling and bruising. Bags of frozen peas and corn make for excellent ice packs. You might also consider Icewraps Gel Packs or Swiss Safe gel packs, which can be ordered from Amazon or online. Apply the ice packs for 20 min of each hour while awake.
  • You may shower the day after the operation and wash your face gently with soap and water. Avoid soaking the incision, although It will not hurt to get a splash of water on the stitches or in the eyes. Do not rub the stitiches or Steristrips. Gently pat dry after washing.
  • Do not smoke or expose yourself to smokers or nicotine as skin and wounds can be compromised.

ACTIVITY

  • For the first few days following surgery, avoid raising your blood pressure or heart rate as it can cause bleeding. In the 2nd week you can gradually increase your activity back to normal.
  • Please do not drive until you can see fully (usually 3 to 5 days). Do not drive while taking pain medications such as oxycodone.

GENERAL OUTCOMES

  • Tearing and dryness of the eyes is common after eyelid surgery. These symptoms normally stop as the swelling subsides over the first few weeks. Eye drops and ointment help moisturize the eyes.
  • Tightness of the eyelids is a normal after eyelid surgery. This may make it hard to close the eyelids completely and they may not close completely while sleeping. This will relax with time.
  • Red discoloration of the whites of the eyes is normal as well. This is painless, will not harm your vision, and will disappear. Swelling may also cause the lower lid to pull away from the eye. This will subside as the swelling goes down.
  • Contacts can be worn when the eyes start feeling normal and the majority of the swelling has subsided. This is approximately 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. Wear glasses until then. It is common to have blurred vision after your procedure as the cornea can swell or be compressed from eyelid tightening – it can take several weeks to resolve – be patient, it will go away.
  • Cosmetics can be worn on the face the day after surgery, but should not be worn on the eyelids or eyelashes until after the eyelid sutures have been removed and wounds are healed.
  • Scars take one full year to mature. You may notice that they become red, raised and firm for several weeks to months before becoming soft, flat and pale. Avoid Vitamin E as it can irritate the scar. All incisions will be sensitive to sunlight during the healing phase. Direct sun contact or tanning booths are to be avoided. Wear sunglasses and use a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more. The scars can be massaged starting 3 weeks after surgery. This may promote early softening and maturation of these areas.
  • A small amount bleeding from the incision and swelling of the eyelids is expected. Please call our office (617-492-0620) if you have:
    • Continuous bleeding
    • Significantly more swelling on one side when compared to the other
    • Worsening eye pain
    • Changes in vision
    • Fever, spreading redness or irritation around the eyes
    • Yellow crusts or discharge from your eyes

It is important to be seen by Dr. Taylor or Dr. Sullivan after your operation. They will see you in follow-up appointments at 5 to 7 days, 3 to 6 months, and 1 year or as often as needed post-op. Call Taylor & Sullivan Plastic Surgery to schedule your appointments at (617) 492-0620 between the hours of 8:30 – 5:00 or visit our webpage at www.massplasticsurgeons.com. We are always available for postoperative concerns or emergencies and can be reached through our paging service 24 hours per day at (617) 492-0620.

Download our Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Lift) Instructions

BROW LIFT AFTERCARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • In the week before your Brow Lift Surgery:
    • Consider eating pineapple, it may help reduce bruising
    • Consider supplementing with Arnica montana, it may help reduce bruising
    • Complete household chores and prepare meals for the first few days of postoperative recovery
    • Follow preoperative instructions with eating, drinking, and medications

  • Please take your medications as directed by Dr. Taylor or Dr. Sullivan to manage discomfort or symptoms.
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) 1000 mg every 8 hours, space doses 4 hours after Ibuprofen so one or the other is taken every 4 hours
    • Ibuprofen (Motrin) 800 mg or Colecoxib (Celebrex) 200 mg every 8 hours, space doses 4 hours after Acetaminophen so one or the other is taken every 4 hours
    • Gabapentin 300 mg every 8 hours for 7 days
    • Vitamin C 500 mg daily for 50 days
    • Oxycodone 5 mg – 1-2 tablets every 6 hours as needed for pain, though many patients may not need it
    • Colace 100 mg twice daily to prevent constipation, it is important to have a bowel movement each day
    • Zofran 8 mg every 8 hours if needed for nausea
    • Scopolamine patch may be placed on the neck on the day of surgery and can stay for 3 days to prevent nausea
    • Bacitracin ointment or Vaseline twice daily to the incisions on the forehead, scalp, nose or lip
    • Preparation H Ointment with Phenylephrine every 6 hours for two weeks to reduce eyelid and cheek swelling

WOUND CARE

  • During the day, apply eye drops (available over the counter such as Refresh Plus) in each eye (2-3 drops) at least 5-7 times daily. Eye drops moisturize the eyes and provide soothing relief for dryness and irritation.
  • At bedtime, apply eye ointment (available over the counter such as Refresh PM) in each eye inside the lower. The ointment helps protect the eyes from nighttime dryness and exposure. It may make your vision temporarily blurry, but it will resolve as the ointment washes away during the night.
  • Elevate your head and shoulders and when in bed keep your head elevated about 30 degrees (two pillows under your head and back) to help with the swelling. 
  • You may apply ice packs to the face and areas around the eyes for the first 48 hours to reduce swelling and bruising. Bags of frozen peas and corn make for excellent ice packs. You might also consider Icewraps Gel Packs or Swiss Safe gel packs, which can be ordered from Amazon or online. Apply the ice packs for 20 min of each hour while awake. 
  • You may shower or sponge bath the day after the operation. You may wash your hair with a gentle shampoo and conditioner and your face with a gentle soap. Pat dry and then apply a thin layer of Vaseline or antibiotic ointment (e.g. Bacitracin or Polysporin) to incisions and suture lines for 5 to 7 days. Avoid snagging the sutures or scalp staples with a brush or comb. Do not allow crusts or scabs build up on the scalp incisions as this can irritate the hair follicles and cause wound healing problems. Gently rub the crusts off when shampooing. 
  • Do not smoke or expose yourself to smokers or nicotine as nasal skin and wounds can be compromised. 
  • Some bleeding from the incisions on the forehead or scalp is expected for 3 to 4 days. 
  • Sutures and staples will be removed by Dr. Taylor and Dr. Sullivan approximately 7– 10 days postop.

ACTIVITY

  • For the first week following Browlift surgery, raising your blood pressure and heart rate can cause bleeding. Avoid straining or vigorous activity. We recommend walking 2 to 3 times per day for 15 minutes. 
  • Please do not drive with swollen eyelids or while taking pain medications such as oxycodone. 
  • Do not lift anything heavier than 10-20 lbs, run, lift weights, or perform strenuous exercise for 7-10 days after Browlift surgery. 
  • Massage therapy to the forehead and scalp, with gentle upward motion, can help increase circulation, soften firm areas under the skin, and enhance lymph drainage. Please wait at least 1 weeks after Brow Lift surgery to start massage to avoid increased swelling and do not pull downward on the eyebrows. 
  • Avoid contact sports for 6 weeks following Brow Lift. 

GENERAL OUTCOMES

  • Tearing and dryness of the eyes is common after Brow Lift. These symptoms normally stop as the swelling subsides over the first few weeks. Eye drops and ointment help moisturize the eyes, but can cause some blurry vision. 
  • Tightness of the skin and fuller appearing facial features with eyebrows that appear too high is also normal. This may make it hard to close the eyelids completely and they may not close completely while sleeping. This will relax with time and will smooth out as the swelling resolves and the tissues soften. 
  • It is common to have blurred vision after your procedure as the cornea can swell or be compressed from eye brow lifting and tightening – it can take a few days to weeks to resolve – please be patient. 
  • Your hair may be dried with a blow dryer on a cool, not a hot, setting. Hair coloring or use of hair products should be delayed until 3 weeks after surgery or when all wounds are healed and there are no crusts or scabs. 
  • Cosmetics can be worn on the face the day after surgery. 
  • Moderate swelling and bumpiness of your scalp, forehead, and eyelids is to be expected and will increase for 48 to 72 hours. Much of the swelling usually resolves within the first few weeks after Brow lift surgery though some mild swelling can take several weeks to months to resolve. 
  • You may get black and blue bruising under your eyes and cheeks. Please be patient, this will gradually subside over the following days. 
  • Tingling, itching, and numbness of the scalp and forehead are normal after Brow lift. Tingling and itching are signs of healing and will resolve. Sensation to the skin may return gradually and slowly over several weeks, though some areas may always have loss of or decreased sensation. Please be patient and avoid resting against hot surfaces, which can injure or burn the skin. 
  • Scars and tissues take one full year to mature. You may notice that they become red, raised and firm for several weeks to months before becoming soft, flat and pale. Avoid Vitamin E as it can irritate the skin and scars. Mederma has no proven benefit and is not worth the expense. All incisions will be sensitive to sunlight during the healing phase. Direct sun exposure or tanning booths are to be avoided. Silicone cream, such as Biocorneum Advanced Scar Treatment, or skin moisturizer with sunscreen and gentle massage may be helpful. 
  • Please call our office (617-492-0620) if you have:
    •  Continuous bleeding (A small amount bleeding from the incision and swelling of the forehead and 
    • eyelids is expected.) 
    •  Significantly more swelling on one side when compared to the other
    •  Worsening eye or facial pain or changes in vision 
    •  Fever, spreading redness or irritation around the incisions 
    •  Yellow crusts or discharge from your eyes

It is important to be seen by Dr. Taylor or Dr. Sullivan after your operation. They will see you in follow-up appointments at 1 week, 3-6 months, and 1 year or as often as needed post-op. Call to schedule your appointments at Taylor & Sullivan Plastic Surgery office at (617) 492-0620 between the hours of 8:30 – 5:00 or visit our webpage at www.massplasticsurgeons.com. We are always available for postoperative concerns or emergencies and can be reached through our paging service 24 hours per day at (617) 492-0620.

Download our Brow Lift Instructions

CONSULTATION FOR BLEPHAROPLASTY OR BROW LIFT

Dr Taylor and Dr Sullivan are plastic surgeons who are also both fellowship trained in facial plastic surgery and often work together during operations. They will carefully evaluate your eyelids for an eyelid lift (blepharoplasty) to remove excess skin or ptosis repair to correct sagging eyelids. If Dr. Taylor and Dr. Sullivan consider you to be a good candidate for an eyelid operation or a brow lift, they will customize a surgical plan for you. If you would like to learn more please contact us and we can evaluate you in our Cambridge Mass office at Mount Auburn Hospital.

Call Today 617.492.0620

To schedule a private consultation with Dr. Taylor or Dr. Sullivan, please call the office or request an appointment using our form. We welcome your visit and your questions.

300 Mount Auburn St. Ste 304, Cambridge, MA 02138

Taylor & Sullivan Plastic Surgery Boston
American Society of Plastic Surgeons American Board of Plastic Surgery Fellow American College of Surgeons America Association of Plastic Surgeons Sigill Massachusetts

617.492.0620

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300 Mount Auburn St. Ste 304, Cambridge