Apr 19, 2023

Laser Eye Lifts: A Q&A With An Expert

"In many patients, it can surpass the results of surgery. This is because of its natural results and the fact that it can thicken skin in addition to tightening to get rid of wrinkles and droopy eyelids."

Happy Friday, everyone!

Formulate user Brittney wrote in with some questions about laser eye lifts.

A person who I know told me that he got a 'laser eye lift'. His results are really good. I've heard about surgical eye lifts, but never of one being done via laser. He said that he originally wanted a surgical eye lift, but since he didn't have the time for a hospital stay and didn't want to go under full anesthesia his medical team recommended this instead. I honestly didn't know you could get results like this without going under the knife. Can you help me find out more about this procedure? I'm so curious.

Thanks for writing, Brittney! To answer your questions, we spoke with Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, a board certified dermatologist and laser surgeon. Dr. Rokhsar is recognized as an expert in laser resurfacing - we're sure he'll be able to help you understand more about this procedure!

What is a laser eye lift? How is it done? 

Dr. Rokhsar: A laser eye lift is a cosmetic surgical procedure that is designed to improve the appearance of the eyes. This is done by tightening the skin around the eyes, reducing puffiness, and diminishing the appearance of fine, moderate, and severe lines and wrinkles. 

This procedure is typically performed on the upper and lower eyelids using CO2 or fractional CO2 lasers. The procedure is considered non-surgical. In many patients, it can surpass the results of surgery. This is because of its natural results and the fact that it can thicken skin in addition to tightening to get rid of wrinkles and droopy eyelids.

During a laser eye lift, a surgeon will use a laser to heat and tighten the skin around the eyes. This process stimulates collagen production, which helps to plump up and firm the skin. The procedure is typically done on an outpatient basis and can be performed using local anesthesia.

And how is it different from a traditional eye lift?

Dr. Rokhsar: A traditional eye lift, also known as blepharoplasty, is a surgical procedure that involves removing excess skin, fat, and muscle from the eyelids. The procedure is typically performed on both the upper and lower eyelids. It is designed to correct drooping eyelids, puffiness, and bags under the eyes.

Unlike a laser eye lift, which uses the CO2 laser to heat and tighten the skin, a traditional eye lift involves making incisions in the skin around the eyes and removing excess tissue. The procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia. Patients may require several weeks of downtime to recover fully.

What are the pros and cons of traditional vs laser eye lifts?

Dr. Rokhsar: One of the main advantages of traditional surgery is that it can provide long-lasting results. However, there are some drawbacks. Traditional surgery can result in more visible scarring, and the risk of complications such as infection, bleeding, or eyelid asymmetry is higher.

The advantage of the CO2 laser is shorter recovery time, more natural results, and no visible scars. It can also replace the thin wrinkly skin of the eyelids with thick fresh young skin, something surgery can not accomplish. 

The laser can also help tighten the skin around the eyes and stimulate collagen production. This can improve the overall appearance of the area.

Is there a difference in cost for traditional vs laser eye lifts?

Dr. Rokhsar: Laser resurfacing with the CO2 laser is generally cheaper than a surgical eye lift. The patient also saves in operating room costs as well as anesthesiologist costs, since laser eye lift procedures are performed under local anesthesia instead of general anesthesia.

Is it an inpatient or outpatient procedure?

Dr. Rokhsar: A laser eye lift is an outpatient procedure. This means that it does not require an overnight stay at the hospital, and patients can usually return home the same day. The procedure typically takes less than an hour and can be done under local anesthesia, combined with oral sedation to help keep the patient relaxed. 

What are the potential risks and complications associated with laser eye lifts?

Dr. Rokhsar: Potential risks and complications of laser eye lifts may include:

  • Dryness of the eyes: Laser eye lifts can cause a temporary decrease in tear production. This can lead to dry eyes during the healing period.
  • Increased sensitivity to light: Some patients may experience increased sensitivity to light. This can be especially problematic when the patient is exposed to bright sunlight.
  • Changes in skin sensation or numbness of the eyelashes: The laser may affect the sensory nerves around the eye area.
  • Infection: As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection. It is important to follow post-operative instructions carefully to minimize this risk.
  • Scarring: Although rare, scarring can occur as a result of laser skin resurfacing.
  • Pigmentation changes: In some cases, the treated area may develop abnormal pigmentation. This can take time to resolve.

It is important to note that these risks and complications are generally rare. They can often be minimized by choosing an experienced and qualified doctor, as well as following post-operative instructions. While laser eye lifts are generally considered safe and effective, they may not be suitable for everyone. Patients with certain medical conditions or darker skin types may not be good candidates for the procedure.

What are the steps of the laser eye lift, and how long does it typically take?

Dr. Rokhsar: The laser eye lift procedure involves the use of a specialized CO2 laser to heat the skin around the eyes, which stimulates collagen production and tightens the skin. 

First, the area around the eyes is cleaned and numbed with a local anesthetic. The laser is then applied to the skin in a specific pattern, using a handheld device.The laser heats the skin, stimulating collagen production and tightening the skin. The surgeon may use a cooling device to help reduce discomfort and prevent damage to surrounding tissues.

The procedure is typically completed within 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the extent of the treatment area.

Are there any restrictions or limitations on physical activity after the laser eye lift?

Dr. Rokhsar: In general, it is important to avoid activities that may increase the risk of injury or cause strain on the eyes during the recovery period. Patients may be advised to avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, and water activities for a certain period after surgery. It is also important to avoid touching or rubbing the eyes. Follow all post-operative care instructions provided by the surgeon to ensure optimal healing and minimize the risk of complications.

What is the expected recovery time?

Dr. Rokhsar: The recovery time after a laser eye lift can vary depending on the individual and the extent of the procedure. Most patients are healed within 3-5 days. Some patients stay red for a few weeks but makeup can be applied one-week post-op.

What reasons do patients typically cite when they seek out laser eye lifts?

Dr. Rokhsar: As we age, the skin around our eyes loses elasticity and can cause sagging or drooping, which can make us look tired or older than we feel. A laser eye lift can help to correct this by removing excess skin and tightening the area around the eyes, resulting in a more youthful and refreshed appearance.

It's important to note that some patients may also seek out this procedure for medical reasons. For example, if the sagging skin around their eyes is obstructing their vision, a laser eye lift may be necessary to improve their eyesight.

Are there any myths about laser eye lifts that you'd like to dispel?

Dr. Rokhsar: One common myth is that laser eye lifts are painful. However, the truth is that the procedure is generally well-tolerated by patients. Local anesthesia is used to numb the treatment area, which helps to minimize any discomfort.

Another myth is that laser eye lifts can cause blindness. This is not true. While there are some risks associated with any surgical procedure, the risk of blindness from a laser eye lift is extremely low.  Internal stainless steel metal eye shields are inserted in the eyes to protect the cornea from the laser beam. The procedure is generally safe when performed by a qualified and experienced surgeon.

Many thanks to Dr. Rokhsar for his willingness to speak with us for this piece! 

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