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I consulted a plastic surgeon for eyelid surgery who said I needed clearance by my general ophthalmologist. Is that really necessary?

Published onNovember 16, 2011

Yes, if your plastic surgeon doesn’t specialize in eyelid surgery and lacks board certification in Ophthalmology. Ask yourself if it makes sense to have eyelid surgery by someone who lacks this specialized knowledge and training. Is this really the right surgeon for you?

The only time you need to get clearance from an ophthalmologist is when your plastic surgeon is not appropriately trained to take care of the eyes and is therefore unqualified to properly assess the health of your eyes. Board-certified general plastic surgeons lack the necessary training, skills, and experience to accurately assess eye health. Of course they are not the only surgical specialty that offers cosmetic eyelid surgery without these important skills. Facial plastic surgeons, dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons of various stripes and background all offer cosmetic eyelid surgery without the detailed knowledge needed to provide care for the eyes. For this reason, if they are performing your eyelid surgery, they should send you to your general ophthalmologist for clearance.

Unfortunately, the general ophthalmologist may not fully understand the procedure, so they might not know what signs to look for in regards to whether you’re a good candidate for the surgery. As a result, the ophthalmologist may unintentionally clear you for a surgery that could compromise your eye health and comfort. It makes sense that a surgeon who is both board certified in ophthalmology and fellowship trained in to perform eyelid surgery will be the best choice.

Without in-depth training in oculoplastic surgery, eyelid surgery performed by general plastic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons and other cosmetic surgeons may not be ideal for your individual needs. Surgeons who lack training in oculoplastic surgery and board certification in ophthalmology don’t have the skills, training, and knowledge to manage post-surgical eyelid issues that may arise. Often this lack of training also means that they lack the finesse that sets the stage for successful results when foreseeable issues are considered and factored into the design of a surgery. Even the choice of which eye drops to use after eyelid surgery to comfort the eyes or a thoughtful discussion before surgery regarding what to expect can make all the difference.

About Dr. Steinsapir

Dr. Steinsapir is a board certified eye surgeon and fellowship-trained in oculoplastic surgery and cosmetic surgery in Los Angeles where he specializes in balanced facial cosmetic surgery for natural results, with an emphasis on minimally invasive techniques, fast recovery time, and leadership in medical technology. Dr. Steinsapir has a private practice and also serves as an Associate Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Contact us today to learn how Dr. Steinsapir’s experience and training make him an expert in cosmetic surgery, which can be a vital part of your evidence-based treatment plan.

Services described may be “off-label” and lack FDA approval. This article is informational and does not constitute an advertisement for off-label treatment. No services should be provided without a good faith examination by a licensed physician and an informed consent with a discussion of risks, benefits, alternatives, and the likelihood of treatment success. Only you and your treating physician or surgeon can determine if a treatment is right for you.

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