Oculoplastics Ophthalmologists

June 13, 2022


Contributing Author: Dr. Payal Patel, MD

Oculoplastic surgeons are ophthalmologists who specialize in plastic and reconstructive surgery of the periocular, orbital and facial tissues, including the eyelids, eyebrows, forehead, cheeks, orbit (eye socket), and lacrimal (tear duct) system. These highly skilled medical professionals are also qualified to perform aesthetic rejuvenation procedures on the face with Botox/Dysport/Xeomin and facial fillers such as Juvederm, Restylane and Belotero.

What Are the Conditions Treated by an Oculoplastic Surgeon?

Oculoplastic surgery is a branch of ophthalmology that performs procedures for medical or cosmetic reasons. Because such surgeries can impair one’s ability to see, oculoplastic surgeons are the ideal specialists to perform these procedures.

Oculoplastic surgeons diagnose and treat various conditions, including:

  • Ptosis – Also known as blepharoptosis, this condition is characterized by droopy upper eyelids. 
  • Dermatochalasis – a condition where there is excess skin of the upper eyelids.  This is can visually obstructive if severe or may be cosmetic in nature 
  • Ectropion – A condition that occurs when the lower eyelid rolls outward and droops away from the eye. Ectropion is usually non-life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable.
  • Entropion – A condition characterized by the inward turning of the upper or lower eyelid, causing eyelashes to rub against the eyeball.  
  • Eyelid growths – Abnormal lumps, bumps or growths that occur close to the eyes and can either be benign or cancerous.
  • Chalazion/Styes – oil gland inflammations that occur on the eyelids.
  • Brow ptosis – The lowering of the eyebrow from its normal anatomical position to a point where it is cosmetically unattractive, or vision field deficiencies emerge due to extra soft tissue pushing downward on the eyelid.
  • Graves’ eye disease (thyroid eye disease) – Bulging or swelling of the surrounding eye tissues due to overactive thyroid caused by Graves’ disease.
  • Obstructed tear ducts – Blockage of the tear ducts either from birth, injury, illness, or other problems with tear production.

Oculoplastic surgeons also offer a wide range of surgical and non-surgical cosmetic services to address signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines, and excess skin around the eyes.

What Type of Surgeries Does an Oculoplastic Surgeon Perform?

The most common procedures performed by oculoplastic surgeons include:

  • Chalazion Removal
  • Removal/Biopsy of eyelid growths 
  • Upper and Lower eyelid Blepharoplasty 
  • Ptosis surgery (known as a “lid lift”)
  • Lower eyelid repositioning surgery
  • Reconstruction after skin cancer surgery
  • Tear duct surgery
  • Orbital tumor removal surgery
  • Orbital fracture repair
  • (same as blepharoplasty)Injectables and facial fillers
  • Cosmetic facelift surgery 

What Is the Difference Between an Oculoplastic Surgeon and a Plastic Surgeon?

Even though both surgeons are required first to complete their training at an accredited medical institution, there is a significant gap between the services offered by oculoplastic surgeons and those of plastic surgeons.

After graduating from medical school, plastic surgeons receive two years of general surgery training for various body parts. Following this foundational training, they select a specialty and spend six years in advanced training. Because oculoplastic surgeons now perform most eyelid surgery, plastic surgeons typically have less exposure to it during their training.

In contrast, oculoplastic surgeons are trained ophthalmologists who spend a minimum of seven years training in eye and eyelid surgery and then choose to specialize in oculoplastic surgery for a further extended period. Therefore, oculoplastic surgeons are trained to manage facial plastic surgery and eye and eyelid surgery. 

Although both professionals are equally skilled in their respective fields, oculoplastic surgeons naturally have more specialist knowledge when it comes to surgery concerning the eyelids and certain areas of the face.

What Is the Difference Between an Ophthalmic Surgeon and an Oculoplastic Surgeon?

Both ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeons earn medical degrees, perform residency training in ophthalmology, and receive certifications from the American Board of Ophthalmology. However, ophthalmic surgeons typically focus on treating eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal problems. In contrast, oculoplastic surgeons start as ophthalmic surgeons but complete additional fellowship training to broaden their scope of expertise with the eyelids and facial structure.

Is Oculoplastic Surgery and Orbital Surgery the Same?

Oculoplastics involve cosmetic and reconstructive procedures on the eyelids, orbit, and lacrimal system. Orbital surgery is an area of specialization within oculoplastic surgery that focuses on the orbit (eye socket).

The orbit is the boney socket in the skull that contains the eye and all other associated structures that support eye function, such as muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. While the eye and these structures are surrounded by fat for protection, various problems can affect the orbital area and the eyes. These conditions range from Graves’ disease to infections, tumors, and trauma. These conditions can cause patients to experience double vision or blurry vision, vision loss, pain, or swelling. Evaluation with an eye specialist is crucial to evaluate and treat the underlying problem appropriately.

What Are the Advantages of Visiting an Oculoplastic Specialist?

Since oculoplastic surgeons have extensive training in ophthalmology and plastics, they have the necessary knowledge and understanding to identify and manage any medical condition that involves the structures around the eye. These expert surgeons have the precision and skill to perform procedures around the eyes and require a deep understanding of how the eye functions in order to optimize functional and aesthetic outcomes.

The decision to undergo an oculoplastic procedure is not to be taken lightly. Hence, it is always advisable to consult an eye care specialist before surgery, so you are aware of the risks and what the surgery entails. The eyes are a prominent facial feature, and selecting a professional with expert understanding can result in a natural, youthful appearance that complements the rest of your face.

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