A brief history of blepharoplasty surgery
Eyelid surgery is certainly nothing new. In fact, it’s been around for at least 2,000 years. As early as 25 A.D., the Roman philosopher Aulus Cornelius Celsus detailed a rudimentary blepharoplasty in his tome De re Medica. Though this laid the groundwork, it wasn’t until much later that surgeons were able to refine blepharoplasty into the procedure we recognize today.
Throughout the 19th century, a number of physicians continued to seek techniques for correcting relaxed or aging eyelids. In 1818, the German surgeon Karl Ferdinand von Graefe coined the term “blepharoplasty” to describe eyelid reconstruction. Even so, procedures still had mixed results at best because surgeons still did not understand the structure of the eyelid. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that the Austrian ophthalmologist Ernst Fuchs recognized that the fascia attachments of the eyelid – the connective tissue that holds together skin, fat, and muscle – needed to be surgically reconstructed in order to perform a true blepharoplasty.
At the turn of the century, the American surgeon Conrad Miller set the stage for the modern blepharoplasty with his book Cosmetic Surgery in the Correction of Facial Imperfection. Many of the incisions that he sketched in his diagrams are still preferred today. This led to major innovations in eyelid surgery. Important improvements included better pre-operative markings, precise and symmetrical incisions, and minimizing post-procedure scarring.
In the 1920s, with the spread of photography, more doctors began using before and after displays to show the efficacy of the technique. Increased popularity drove doctors to dedicate more research to the procedure and between 1924 and the mid-20th century doctors continued to refine techniques for removing orbital fat, re-sectioning of the orbicularis, and fixation for the low eyelid crease.
Recently, the focus has turned to improving recovery times and avoiding complications. Today, the average recovery time for the procedure is a little as a week for those performed under local anesthetics. Complications have been minimized as well with current standard is well over 99 percent without issue.