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What is orbital decompression surgery?

Orbital Decompression Surgeon

Orbital decompression is a needed by patients who suffer from bulgy eyes (called exophthalmos), which can be inherited or caused by other medical problems, most commonly Graves’ disease (thyroid eye disease).This procedure is designed to relieve the symptoms of exophthalmos to provide comfort and better vision for individuals that suffer from this condition. It is also done for cosmetic reasons to allow the eyes to go back, creating more aesthetically pleasing eyes. A reputable orbital decompression surgeon (oculoplastic surgeon) can help you to evaluate your condition to determine whether this procedure is right for you. In the mean time, let’s explore the components of this surgery and some of the outcomes that you could expect after the surgery is complete.

What is orbital decompression surgery?

Orbital decompression surgery is a procedure that is designed to provide more space within the orbit to better accommodate the eye and its surrounding tissues that commonly reside within the orbit in healthy individuals. In individuals experiencing exophthalmos the eyes may bulge and surrounding tissues may be compressed causing pain or a loss of vision among other symptoms. The surgery involves removing (or thinning) the bones of the eye socket (orbit) along with removal of orbital fat. This allows the eyes to ideally return to their normal position.

How is this surgery performed?

An oculoplastic surgeon uses hidden incisions around the eyes/eyelids to enter the orbit, where orbital bones are either removed or thinned, along with some orbital fat. This procedure is performed in an outpatient surgery center, after which the patient goes home. Bruising/swelling is expected for about 2 weeks but pain is very minimal, requiring oral pain medication for the first day only.

Why would I need orbital decompression surgery? What are the benefits and risks?

Orbital decompression surgery is often needed in patients with chronic eye pain or severe headaches. If the eyes are bulging, the lids are retracting, or if the vision is effected you may also need to have orbital decompression performed. Other causes for this surgery include optic neuropathy and eye irritation causing keratitis (scar tissue on the cornea).  Another more common reason to undergo orbital decompression surgery is for cosmetic purposes, to restore the eye shape.

After surgery many patients experience a positive impact on their vision and a great reduction or elimination of the chronic pain they may have been experiencing. Patients should also have a more normal positioning of the eyes and eyelids after surgery as well giving better overall eye appearance. Other benefits include reduced dryness of the eyes, reduction of excessive tearing, and prevention of further injury to the tissues of the eye in most cases.

As with any surgery, there are risks. Luckily, these risks are very rare when performed by specialists. It is therefore important to see an oculoplastic surgeon for this procedure. An oculoplastic specialist is an ophthalmologist with specialized fellowship training in plastic surgery around the eyes and the orbit. Rare complications include bleeding, infection, double vision and extremely rarely vision loss. While these complications may seem frightening, they are very rare and the benefits far outweigh the risks in those selected to go through surgery. For more information please see an orbital decompression surgeon (oculoplastic surgeon) in your area to discuss the risks and benefits of this surgery to determine if this procedure is right for you.

Orbit Decompression

Orbit Decompression