Droopy eyelids are more than a cosmetic problem. They can lead to eye strain and headaches as well. Many people don’t know that there’s an effective solution - blepharoplasty.

Age, sun exposure and even genetics can cause your eyelids to sag, droop or loosen. While many people consider this to be a harmless part of growing older, these changes can sometimes have a more serious impact.

“Drooping or sagging eyelids not only give you a tired, older appearance, but they can also impact your field of vision,” says Ochsner ophthalmologist Christopher Grenier, M.D. “If the lid sags far enough over the eye, your vision becomes obstructed, meaning you cannot clearly see the world around you.”

Blepharoplasty can help. It’s an eyelid lift procedure that removes excess skin so that it no longer blocks the line of sight. According to Grenier, it’s an outpatient procedure that can be done in a physician’s office or at a surgery center, and does not involve an overnight hospital stay.

Patients can usually expect to be seeing better within two to three days of surgery and the results typically last many years, he added.

Blepharoplasty can be performed on the upper or lower lids. The physician works with the patient’s natural skin creases to make a tiny incision in the lid so that scarring is minimized. Once the incision is made, the physician removes the excess skin and fat, and tightens the muscles of the lid to prevent further drooping.

“We’ve seen remarkable results,” said Grenier. “Patients who have lost portions of their peripheral vision find that they again have an unobstructed view of the world.”

Of course, the cosmetic impact is tremendous as well.

“Our goal is to achieve a natural appearance with this procedure,” Grenier said. “We want our patients to hear people say,‘You look amazing - so well rested and refreshed - did you just return from vacation?’ Not ‘Oh! you just had plastic surgery.’”

Blepharoplasty is not for patients who want to reduce wrinkles around the eyes or reduce dark circles under the eye.

If a patient is having symptoms due to excess skin or drooping, most insurance plans will cover the cost of blepharoplasty. However, if the procedure is purely cosmetic, it would be an out-of-pocket expense. (Financing options are often available.)

Grenier says anyone who thinks they may be a good candidate for the procedure should speak with their eye doctor to get more information.