What is the Difference Between Ptosis and Dermatochalasis of the Upper Eyelid?

What is the Difference Between Ptosis and Dermatochalasis of the Upper Eyelid?

By Dr. Jay Older, MD

Ptosis (short for blepharoptosis) describes a droopy upper eyelid caused by muscle weakness or paralysis. Dermatochalasis refers to excess upper  eyelid skin that, if extensive enough, could cause a droopy upper lid. Ptosis  repair is accomplished by strengthening or, in rare cases, replacing the muscle function that opens the eye.  An upper eyelid blepharoplasty is a surgical procedure for removing excess upper eyelid  skin and sometimes fat. (Removal of excess skin and/or  fat from the lower eyelid is also called a blepharoplasty.)  If the upper eyelid is droopy enough to cause some superior vision loss, the ptosis repair or blepharoplasty might be considered medically necessary and be covered by insurance. A visual field test done in the doctor's office is often performed to measure the amount of superior field loss.  If either condition does not cause sufficient superior field loss, the procedure would be considered cosmetic.   Upper lid blepharoplasty and ptosis repair can be done together through a single incision. The surgery is often done as an outpatient procedure.


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