Two and a half weeks after surgery.
Blepharoplasty. You'd think if I had it done to me, I might be able to spell it, but no. And spellcheck doesn't even know what I'm talking about - with my various ways of trying to spell it, it keeps trying to correct it to hydrocephalus, telephotography, and bloodthirsty, which are not even close. But then, neither was I with my spelling (although when I finally Googled it and got it right, spellcheck still wanted to correct it to rhinoplasty, so obviously spellcheck isn't the sharpest crayon in the box).
Happy runner, squinchy eyes. Taken about a year and a half ago; it'd only gotten worse since then.
Anyway. I had my eyelids repaired! Did you know they were broken? I didn't, until several years ago...all I knew was that whenever I saw myself in pictures, I wondered who that squinchy-eyed person was - and then I'd realize with a start that it was ME. I've never had a wide-eyed look, but over the years, my eyelids really started getting droopy and were covering my upper eyelashes; they were also extremely wrinkled - there was a lot of extra skin happening. Now, I have all of the accompaniments of getting older - crow's feet around my eyes, and bags underneath, and I'm pretty much OK with that because I'm content with looking my age, however old I happen to be. But the eye squinching thing bothered me because I didn't recognize myself in pictures (and let's face it, with the advent of cell phones along with losing weight, I've taken a lot of pictures over the last several years).
I knew that my Grandmother had had this same kind of surgery, but she was in her 70s when she did it. I was still too young for it, or so I thought. Hah! Long story short, I asked my ophthalmologist if he thought I was a candidate for eyelid surgery and without hesitation, he said yes. He highly recommended an ocular plastic surgeon out of Austin; I could have found someone here in our smaller town to do the procedure, but this is a very visible procedure, and I didn't want to regret my decision so I went with his recommendation. As it was, it still took me six months to work up the courage to make the initial consultation appointment, which I finally did last November. While the surgery would take place in Austin, the surgeon comes to town once a month, so I didn't have to travel for my first visit.
I met with Dr. Durairaj (pronounced "do-ray-raj") who was very nice - he talked about my options, which were either just doing just the upper eyelids (which most likely would be covered by insurance, given how badly the skin was drooping over my eyelashes), or doing the lower area as well, if I was bothered by the baggy skin and wrinkles. Honestly, that part doesn't bother me - like I said, I'm OK with looking my age, and let's face it, if you're in your fifties, you have wrinkles - that's normal. He took some pictures and had everything submitted to my insurance company, who approved the procedure. I'll be honest - I was a little surprised because I'm only (ONLY!) 52 years old...but once I got over the insult (geez, how BAD do I look??), I was fine. Because you aren't supposed to do anything physical for at least one week after surgery, I had it scheduled for mid-March, when I was in a lull between races.
The surgery was a pleasant experience, and how often can you say that when referring to having a surgical procedure done? It was done at TOC Eye and Face in Austin, and I can't recommend them enough - their entire staff, from my surgery coordinator, to my preop nurse (who is a runner; we've done some of the same races!), to the surgical crew were all stellar. My appointment was at 9:30 am; Jeff and I drove in to Austin that morning and arrived early enough that we had time to stop at Starbucks for coffee. Because I would not be going under general anesthesia, I was told to eat my usual breakfast that morning, which I did on the drive in; being able to have coffee was a nice bonus. We checked in and were brought back to a room, where I was given a Xanax to help relax me:
Just chillin' - I didn't even have to change out of my clothes!
Soon I walked back to the surgery room, where I sat in a chair that reclined almost all the way down - not quite as comfortable as the recliner in the picture above, but close. Dr. Durairaj drew on my eyelids with a marker, having me open and close my eyes a few times to check his marks. Then he injected some numbing medicine into my eyelids, I think just below my brow bone. Now, I have to say that I have a high tolerance for pain, but honestly, those injections barely stung. Once the numbing medicine was in, he put some numbing drops into my eyes as well, and then began the procedure. The worst part was the burning smell from the cauterization, but while I could feel tugging, nothing hurt. The radio was playing 70s music, and I was able to contribute to the music trivia conversation going on between Dr. Durairaj, his assistant, and the nurses. Pretty quickly (I think less than an hour) the surgery was finished, they put ointment in my eyes and on my eyelids, and I was led back to another recliner to sit with ice on my eyes:
I sat with the ice for a while and then it was time to go home. I couldn't wait to get a look at my eyelids, so I went to the restroom for a peek in the mirror. Even looking through ointment-blurred eyes, I could see that I had eyelids!!! It was a very noticeable difference. I tried to take a selfie in the car - with blurry vision it was a little difficult, but this is what I looked like shortly after surgery:
Why hello eyelids, so nice to see you again!
My incisions were beginning to sting, so I took two extra-strength Tylenol that I'd brought with me when we began our drive home. I mostly rested my eyes; I had sunglasses on, but the light was still bothering me a bit. Our friend Cary had sweetly offered to bring us dinner when we got home; she said to text her with whatever I was feeling like eating after the surgery, and between being one-handed due to my left arm in the splint (from my sprained wrist), to feeling very bleary-eyed, all I could think of was that I wanted cheese and crackers and pickles - finger food. She brought us all of that and much more - hummus, pretzel chips, a veggie tray, and homemade pigs in a blanket, all of which were delicious.
I spent the rest of that evening putting ice packs on my eyes - I was supposed to do that for twenty minutes every hour that I was awake, and just resting in my chair. I took two more Tylenol before I went to sleep that night (I slept mostly upright, in my knitting chair, to help with the swelling) and set the bottle and a glass of water next to me, in case I woke up in pain. I couldn't believe it when I woke up the next morning and realized that not only did I not need any pain reliever that night, but I felt really pretty good. That day, I had ice packs on my eyes 17 times - I swear, it reminded me of having a newborn baby where you just finish feeding them and realize that you have about 30 minutes left before the feeding process needs to start again! But I was determined to be a compliant patient and do everything my doctor said to ensure a good recovery, so I iced all day and into the evening...it was rough, but a nurse from TOC had called that morning to check on me and assured me that Dr. Durairaj only wanted his patients to ice for one day after surgery which helped me get through that. I had several gel ice packs in rotation during that day.
My eyelids turned bright red and the swelling really set in two days after the surgery, which was expected. While the incisions didn't hurt, I did get a slight headache just above my eyebrows, which I'm sure was due to the pressure of the swelling. Tylenol took care of that, and the headache went away for good after about a week (as did most of the swelling). One interesting thing that was noted on my "what to expect afterward" note was that gravity would make everything go down my face and possibly into my neck, and sure enough, the redness and swelling moved from my upper eye area to below my eyes, and the swelling was wild - I had what's called "water bags" under my eyes, which, combined with the bruising, was a really lovely look:
Three days after surgery - I actually went out in public looking like this, although I wore sunglasses to spare my friends from the hideousness. Of course, they all wanted to see what I looked like, and you know I obliged them.
Five days after surgery - I called this my "harsh light of day picture" as it showed everything. I was texting daily photo updates to my parents, and my mom called the pictures where I wasn't smiling my mugshots - ha!
I took a lot of pictures, not only to document this for myself, because it was so fascinating how much it changed day-by-day, but also because I wanted to write some detailed posts about the surgery and recovery. When I was contemplating having this done, I couldn't find much written about it, first-person...there are a lot of before-and-after shots on the internet, but not a lot of experiences. So I'm posting this here, and I've also created an eyelid surgery tab (at the top, under my header) with more specific details and pictures, for anyone who might be interested. I'm still a bit swollen, and when I had my follow up visit on Friday, Dr. Durairaj said it will be about three months after surgery before all of the swelling has decreased, so I'll be posting some after pictures with even more improvement. I can't say enough good things about my doctor - he is a great guy, and was even willing to pose for a selfie with me when I told him I'd be blogging about my experience:
Of course I have no eye make up on, because I was there for a follow up exam, and I couldn't stop laughing because hello, I'm taking a selfie with my doctor, which made the eyes that I'm trying to show off scrunch up, but you know what? You can still see eyelids there! Not too shabby for three weeks post-surgery.