Eye Surgery Frequently Asked Questions
What should I expect at my first appointment?
You should allow 30 to 45 minutes for your first consultation, or longer if your pupils require dilation or you require additional tests. Miss Garrott will discuss your eye problem in detail, and then examine your eyes including a vision check and in some cases your pupils will be dilated to allow Miss Garrott to examine the back of your eyes. If your problem is ‘watery eye’, she may need to syringe your tear ducts. If your pupils need to be dilated, you may not be able to drive for several hours.
It is useful to bring a referral note from your GP or optician, a list of your medications, your reading and distance glasses, and a copy of your spectacle prescription with results of any relevant tests. If the main reason for your consultation is cosmetic, it may be useful to bring a photograph of yourself when you were most satisfied with your appearance.
Why should I consider having my eye surgery privately?
Private treatment allows you to select your eye surgeon, after you have performed your own research, and thereby ensure that he or she specializes in the specific field related to your eye condition. You can also be assured that you will be receiving consultant level care at all stages of the treatment process, from the initial consultation, to the treatment or surgery itself, to the post-operative after care.
Experienced surgeons generally have better outcomes, as they are able to exercise better judgement regarding the appropriateness of a particular procedure, and are able to tailor that procedure to you as an individual, after taking into consideration a multitude of unique, individual factors. Experienced eye surgeons have also developed a higher level of technical skill, accuracy and consistency. Continuity of care with a surgeon who has a full understanding of your condition from the first stages in the treatment process is extremely valuable, as is the availability of the surgeon to answer queries either before the procedure, or to deal with any unexpected issues after the procedure.
When can I return to normal activities after a surgical procedure?
This will be highly variable, depending on the complexity of the surgical procedure. Miss Garrott will advise you specifically, depending on your individual circumstances; it may range from a few hours after a minor eyelid skin lump excision, to several weeks or a month after orbital decompression surgery.
When are the stitches removed?
This is variable, depending on the operation you have had. It usually ranges between 1 and 3 weeks. In some cases, dissolvable sutures may be used, in which cases suture removal is not necessary.
What are the advantages of an oculoplastic surgeon performing an eyelid lift rather than a plastic surgeon?
Plastic surgeons are trained in a wide range of techniques, throughout the body, including facial and eyelid aesthetics. An oculoplastic surgeon has the benefit of being trained specifically in the tissues around the eyes, and has a thorough understanding of and a greater ability to assess the potential side effects of any surgery (and therefore appropriateness of surgery) on your eyes.
An oculoplastic surgeon will perform a thorough examination of the eyes, in addition to the tissues around the eyes, under high magnification with a device called a slit lamp, which allows them to check for surface dryness or other corneal problems which may be exacerbated by cosmetic eyelid surgery. In addition,
droopy eyelids may not just be
excess skin, but a complex combination of brow ptosis (low eyebrows), excess skin and eyelid ptosis (eyelids that have dropped). Oculoplastic surgeons are best placed to analyse this interplay of factors, and recommend the most appropriate treatment, which may actually be to combine multiple surgical treatments.
May I wash the area where I have had eye surgery?
You may carefully wash the area around where you have had surgery or around any sutures by dabbing it with cotton wool which has been soaked in cooled, boiled water. It is best to avoid rubbing the sutures or incision site so as not to disturb the wound. It is best to avoid washing your hair for the first week after surgery while the wound is still fresh and healing. Alternatively, if somebody is able to help you wash your hair in a basin during this time, without having to wet your face, this would be perfectly acceptable. In general, it is preferable to keep a fresh wound dry, except during cleaning as described above with boiled water that has cooled down. If the wound inadvertently becomes wet, for example during a shower, simply dab it dry with a clean towel or flannel.
Can I continue my usual medications for the surgery?
It is important to discuss this with Miss Garrott and the answer will vary greatly depending on the exact medications you are taking, the medical reason for their use, and the type of procedure you are undergoing. Of particular importance are blood thinning medications, such as warfarin, aspirin and clopidogrel, which may significantly increase the risk of bleeding during a procedure.
It is often necessary to involve your GP or cardiologist in the decision about temporary cessation of blood thinning medications, as he or she may need to assess whether they are safe to stop in your particular situation. If you are on warfarin, this is often continued, but it is necessary for your INR to be checked within 3 days of your operation and for this to be within your normal therapeutic range. It is also preferable to stop any supplements such as garlic, ginger and gingko 2 weeks before the surgery, as these all have blood thinning effects and therefore increase your risk of bleeding during the surgery.
When can I restart my medications after the surgery?
Usually you can restart blood thinning medications the day after surgery. However, in some exceptional cases, you may be advised to restart later the same day of surgery if you are thought to be at particularly high risk of blood clotting, or you may be advised to delay restarting by several days if you have bled excessively during the surgery. Apart from blood thinning medications, your other medications are usually continued up to time of surgery and recommenced straight after surgery.
What should I do to prepare for my eye surgery?
On the day of surgery, have a shower and ideally wash your hair. Do not wear any makeup, nail vanish, jewellery or contact lenses. If you are having a general anaesthetic or sedation, you will have been asked to have nothing to eat or drink for approximately 6 hours. You can, however take your usual medications (apart than blood thinners if you have been instructed to stop these) with a sip of water. If you are a smoker, try to stop smoking before your surgery in order to optimize wound healing and scarring.