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Drooping eyelids? Discover the best age to have ptosis surgery

Patients often come to see me and say

“Look, Jane, I’m developing rather droopy eyelids. My mother had this and she is 95 now and she has just had her eyes operated on and quite honestly she could not see a thing out of her eyelids before that.I am in my late 50s and I really do not want to wait until I am as old as my mother before I have my droopy eyelids done.I want to get my surgery done while I am fit and healthy and while there is still a good chance that I will do well with the surgery, have a rapid recovery and I can get on and still see well for the next 20- 40 years.”

I am finding that people regarded droopy eyelid as a problem only of old age. It has often been called involutional or old age ptosis. There are other causes of ptosis of course, as babies can be born with congenital ptosis. It can be familial and run in the family. There could be neurological and muscular causes, but the main reason is that it is gradually coming on with increasing age. 

Because ptosis appears gradually in most people, we do not notice it until we may see a photograph of ourselves looking a little bit more tired, sleepy or have asymmetry with one eyelid drooping more than the other. Sometimes other people will tell us that we are looking a bit tired or we may realise that because we know that members of our family have had surgery. When we get older, we are likely to be going the same way because we have already started to develop excess skin and droopiness of our upper eyelids. Therefore people are considering having ptosis surgery at a much younger age. 

I do not know what the best age is to have ptosis surgery. I can only analyse my practice and let you know that there are two peaks for ptosis surgery in adults

  1. Around the age of about 30 years which are the young patients who have unilateral ptosis. That has been gradually coming on since their teens. There is no real cause ever found, and they do exceedingly well with ptosis surgery. 
  2. The second group are slightly older and are aged 55-65 with a peak age of 60. They have had a gradual onset of their upper eyelid droopiness and are still actively working, contributing to society, have young, dynamic families, have professions and want to look young and healthy.  They do not want their eyelids to interfere with either their vision or their cosmetic appearance.

So the best stages are in these two age groups.  However, there is always a range, and that is why I cannot say what the ‘best age is’.

Philosophically speaking, the best age to have droopy eyelid surgery is when you want it done

You are the patient, and you are the one who is noticing that your eyelids are drooping. Because of the internet, we are all becoming a lot more informed about medical conditions and what is involved with surgery.

To do a little resume here of what is involved with droopy eyelid surgery, think of it has been the following. It is a local anaesthetic day case surgery.This means you come in the morning; you spend about five hours in the clinic of which about one to two hours is the eyelid surgery. You have a typical light breakfast on the day of the operation, get a sandwich at lunch after the surgery, and you go home without eye pads on if it is bilateral surgery. If it is unilateral, you may go back with an eye pad. 

You then will be spending about five to seven days out of the limelight at home, pottering around going out with your dark glasses, putting in eye drops, not in any discomfort before you come back and have your stitches out with me about a week after surgery. Most people are back to work within 10 days of their droopy eyelid surgery. Most people won’t see a sign of the operation after about three weeks as by this time most of the swelling and bruising has wholly disappeared. There may still be a little bit of redness and palpable thickening of the skin incision, but not visible thickening and since you can wear makeup from two weeks onwards any residual redness can be disguised while it gradually disappears over the first three months.

So the best age to have ptosis surgery is when you feel you want to have it done and indeed when you feel the healthiest to have it done. It has to fit into your life, your family, your timetable. By choosing to have your ptosis eyelid surgery done privately, you remain in control of these decisions. 

You choose when is the best time to have your surgery done, you select your surgeon and your clinic. 

We are here to help you with information and understanding what will happen in droopy eyelid surgery. Of course, I am here to help you by doing your droopy eyelid surgery and helping you rejuvenate your eyelids and improve your vision.


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