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Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About Eyelid Surgery

With eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, trending as Hollywood’s best-kept aesthetics secret, one Dubai patient explains the pros, cons, and unfiltered results for this game-changing eyelift surgery.

TikTok’s latest aesthetic obsession, the ‘skin pinch’, has made blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery, a hot topic for beauty enthusiasts. While the term skin pinch refers to a specific type of blepharoplasty removing only excess skin from the lower lids, full blepharoplasty sees the removal of both excess skin and fat from lower and upper lids with an aim to reduce undereye bags and sagging lids. Journalist Sarah Hedley Hymers details her review of ‘the bleph’, sharing her journey and results of a blepharoplasty surgery in Dubai.

“Since my twenties, I’ve wanted full blepharoplasty. Ageing has merely exasperated a problem that has always been there. Like bulging facial beacons, my unwanted eyebags and heavy lids have broadcast every late night and bad diet choice I’ve ever enjoyed, betraying me far too many times.

This year, as the grand old age of 50 approaches like a bullet train, I finally decided to take the matter in hand – or rather, place it in the skilled hands of Dr Ramzi Alameddine. Lebanon-based Dr Ramzi specialises in oculoplastic surgery and is a visiting practitioner at Dubai’s Dr Kayle Aesthetic Clinic. For me, it was essential to secure the services of an eye specialist, rather than a general plastic surgeon, because I believe in the logic behind the old adage that practice makes perfect.

I booked a consultation and met with both clinic founder Dr Dany Kayle and Dr Ramzi to assess my suitability for blepharoplasty. Eyelids and bags can – to an extent ­– be lifted, tightened and ironed out with non-invasive treatments, such as fractional ablative laser, but having what felt like enough spare skin to wrap my own birthday gifts, I assumed I’d be a suitable candidate. I was right. The doctors recommended full blepharoplasty, and even suggested a round of ablative laser at a later date to smooth out the remaining fine lines as well as reduce the scarring from the surgery. In addition, Botox around the temples was recommended to reduce the formation of crow’s feet wrinkles. It sounded like a well-rounded plan.

Preparing for Surgery
Following the consultation, I had a meeting with an anaesthetist at the hospital where the operation would take place. One week before surgery, I had to cease consumption of aspirin and anti-coagulants, anti-inflammatories such as Advil, and specific supplements including garlic, fish oil, flax oil, vitamin E and ginkgo biloba. I was also advised to stock up on the ABC of swelling and bruising management: arnica montana, bromelain and vitamin C. FYI: Bromelain is tricky to find in pharmacies, but readily available in supermarkets in pineapple.

A day before surgery, I started a course of the ABC trio; eight hours beforehand, I stopped eating food; four hours before I stopped drinking water. At 2.30pm I checked into my private suite at the luxurious Dubai hospital. At 4.30pm I was wheeled into theatre. It was time to go under the knife!

During Surgery
What most people find shocking about blepharoplasty is that patients are usually awake during the procedure. Take a moment; let that sink in. It’s unnerving, but not as bad as it sounds. Local anaesthetic is administered and patients are also heavily sedated. It’s like being in a dream.

I was vaguely aware of my surroundings and my doctor’s hands, blurred by the bright lights, moving above my face, but I could hardly feel a thing. I was invited to choose which music I wanted to listen to, and Yellow by Coldplay turned out to be a particularly good choice. Surprisingly chilled out, I only really started to feel discomfort in the last 10 minutes of the two-hour procedure.

In the hour after surgery, my vital signs were monitored as I became more lucid, and then Dr Ramzi gave me a crash course in applying ice packs. The ice reduces pain, but it’s the pressure applied that helps hold back the swelling. Lesson learned, I was told to apply the ice packs every hour for around 20 to 30 minutes and to continue this after I went home for as long as swelling was an issue.

Vogue Arabia, March 2017. Photo: Valentina Frugiuele

Downtime After Surgery
Immediately after the surgery, I was scared to look in the mirror, but once I plucked up the courage, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of damage. I was nowhere near as disfigured as I had been expecting; I even took a selfie to share with friends and family.

I checked myself out of the hospital the same night as soon as I got the all-clear from the medics. Like with most cosmetic procedures, surgery isn’t the hard part, it’s the recovery that’s difficult. For the next week, I had to sleep upright with my head on a triangular pillow that helped prevent me from rolling onto my side.

As I couldn’t apply makeup for two weeks, there was nothing I could do to hide the bruising. The most extreme swelling came in the first week following surgery. Some days my eyes ballooned and I looked like I’d been in the ring with Tyson Fury, and then my jowls started inflating. Performing regular facial lymph drainage massage was essential.

Seeing your own discolored face twist and contort with waves of fluctuating swelling and scarring is challenging. These are the worst of times; when the prescribed antibiotic cream blurs your vision and regrets start to surface. The rabbit hole of “What ifs…” can swallow you up.  I found myself thinking: what if I’m scarred for life? What if my eyes are wildly asymmetric? What if I can never fully close my eyelids again? What if my vision remains blurred forever?

Full disclosure: the potential complications of blepharoplasty include asymmetry; loss of vision; lagophthalmos (the incomplete closure of the eyelids); epicanthus (a skin fold in the inner corner of the upper eyelid), and ectropion (a condition in which the eyelid turns outward). It’s important to know all of this before committing to surgery, but knowledge can also fuel paranoia and sleepless nights during the healing phase.

Nothing prepared me for the profound physical and emotional nausea I felt when I allowed these doubts to cloud my mind. The self-flagellation for succumbing to my own vanity was overwhelming and I admit I burst into tears a few times. Not everyone feels this way. My friend who had the same procedure – and talked me down from the rabbit hole’s edge in my darkest moments – was less emotional during her recovery, but before going under the knife it’s important for people to know the risks and how triggering aesthetic surgery can be. Essentially, in correcting something you don’t like about yourself, you’re going to make it look far worse to begin with. As my ‘bleph BFF’ said, this is not a time for looking in mirrors.

The stitches in my upper lids were removed after a week, while the stitches in the lower lids dissolved by themselves within two weeks. Significant downtime is estimated at two to three weeks. Preparing for the downtime is as important as preparing for the surgery. You need a support network and ways to tackle any anxiety you might feel. Line up a good meditation app as well as comfortable ice packs for the face alongside prescribed painkillers and antibiotics. Makeup can’t be worn for four weeks. Strenuous exercise is not permitted for around four weeks after surgery either, but you might want to take gentle strolls to keep your limbs mobile and lift your mood.

Three Months Later
The relief I felt after three months was palpable. The weight of post-surgery anxiety lifted off my shoulders when I could finally see a clear indication of the results. The full effect of blepharoplasty takes one to two years to bed in, but already I looked less tired, more fresh-faced.

Now, my daily routine includes applying the recommended scar treatment, NewGel+, a medical-grade silicone gel designed to flatten and fade scars, and I massage my eyelids with organic castor oil. Firm soothing strokes seem to smooth away the scar tissue.

Dr Ramzi warned me that my scars might appear more pronounced and purple some days for up to six months, and they do flare up occasionally, but – with makeup on – I’m back to business as usual, hosting events on stage, and no one ever notices the traces of surgery.

Socializing again, some friends who didn’t know about my surgery have commented on how well I look, and, at the end of a long night out, I’m often shocked by my reflection in the bathroom mirror, forgetting for a moment why I look so awake at such a late hour. Then I remember, those tell-tale eyebags are gone forever.

Blepharoplasty procedures begins from AED15,000. For a consultation: Dr Dany Kayle Aesthetic Clinic 

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