Ectropion is a condition in which your eyelid turns outward and sags away from the eye, leaving the inner eyelid exposed and irritated.
As we age, the muscles around our eyes weaken and occasionally lead to lower eyelid pulling away from your eye, preventing tears from draining properly. This is called Ectropion. When this happens you may experience watery eyes, excessive dryness, irritation and sensitivity to light. Although artificial tears and lubricating ointments may provide some relief, usually surgery is needed to fully correct Ectropion.
What causes eyelid sagging?
As you get older the muscles and ligaments around your eyes begin to relax which can cause the skin around the eyelids to sag. Therefore, the primary cause of Ectropion is due to aging. However, eyelid sagging may also be a result of weakness from a previous surgery or as a result of injury.
What is the treatment to correct Ectropion?
Although artificial tears and lubricating ointments may provide temporary relief, surgery is usually needed to correct eyelid sagging.
What is involved in surgery?
When you have your initial appointment with your doctor, they will assess the condition of the tissue around your eyes. The type of surgery performed is determined by the cause of your Ectropion and the condition of your eyelid tissue. If your Ectropion is the result of muscle and ligament relaxation due to aging, then your surgeon will likely remove a small section of the outer edge of your eyelid. For your eyelids to rest appropriately on your eye, the tendons and muscles are tightened by stitching your eyelid back together.
If you are experiencing Ectropion due to scar tissue from an injury or previous surgery, then your surgeon may use a skin graft to help support the lower eyelid. A skin graft is usually taken from your upper eyelid or from behind your ear.
How long is the recovery?
The recovery from surgery is relatively short. You can expect bruising and swelling to fade two weeks following surgery. During the first 24 hours you may need to wear an eye patch. Additionally, you may be instructed to use a cold compress to decrease mild bruising and swelling. You can expect to experience temporary swelling and brushing around your eye. To treat this you may be instructed to apply a steroid cream as well as a cold compress.
A week following the surgery you will have your stitches removed. Residual swelling and bruising is expected to fade around two weeks following surgery.