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The Fascinating History of Eyelid Surgery

Los Angeles Eyelid Oculoplastic ProcedureBlepharoplasty is the medical term for medical or cosmetic eyelid surgery. It’s a popular procedure that continues to gain in stature because it helps rejuvenate a tired and aging appearance caused by droopy eyelids. Cosmetic eyelid surgery is a delicate, complex procedure that requires the oculoplastic surgeon to possess unsurpassed training and knowledge as well as steady hands. Los Angeles oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Mehryar (Ray) Taban, founder, and head of TabanMD, takes all of that and combines it with the latest cutting-edge techniques and technology to deliver amazing results.

As amazing as current medical technology, devices, and techniques are, did you know that cosmetic eyelid surgery in Los Angeles is NOT a recent phenomenon?

In fact, it’s believed that people have been performing eye surgery for at least two millennia.

The Very Early History of Blepharoplasty

Today, a cosmetic eyelid surgery procedure can be safely performed as an outpatient procedure under a local anesthetic that results in long-lasting eye and facial rejuvenation.

Medical advancements and current technology—such as lasers and special scalpels or cannulas—allow for a quicker, more comfortable procedure that minimizes scarring and maximizes the natural-looking effects that most patients desire.

However, eye surgery can be traced back as far as the 18th century B.C., as documents from that period detail eye diseases and conditions that necessitated, for example, the excision of infected sores around the eye.

The Greek physician Hippocrates is credited with creating the principles upon which much of modern Western medicine is constructed. However, it might come as a surprise that he and his Greek contemporaries mentioned almost nothing about ophthalmology or eyelid surgery procedures.

Los Angeles Oculoplastic BlepharoplastyInstead, it was Roman medicine that took the foundations from Greek medicine and expanded its surgical applications. For example, there is clear evidence of eyelid surgery dating back to around 25 A.D., as the Roman Aulus Cornelius Celsus details an early eyelid surgery—the excision of the upper eyelid skin—in his book De Medicina.

Arab Influence in the First Millennium A.D.

The Greeks and Romans continued to expand their knowledge of medicine, yet, much of the proliferation of knowledge to other parts of the world would not have happened without the expert contributions of Arabs, particularly after they invaded Alexandria around 640 A.D.

Particularly noteworthy is that, around 1000 A.D., one of the earliest descriptions of an upper eyelid blepharoplasty was compiled by Ali ibn Isa al-Kahhal, an eye specialist so famous that his bestowed surname, al-Kahhal, means “the oculist.”

The description of blepharoplasty was just one type of eyelid surgery from dozens written about during this period, which is significant because the progress slowed for the next several centuries.

19th Century Contributions to Eye Surgeries

The advances in eye surgery began to pick up again in the 19th century. For example, in 1818, the term “blepharoplasty” was first coined by Karl Ferdinand Von Graefe to describe a cosmetic eyelid surgery, specifically an eyelid reconstruction.

This helped accelerate the spread of upper eyelid removal as an effective treatment for functional issues. For the rest of the century, blepharoplasty was performed to correct vision or other functional eyelid concerns.

The 20th Century – The Dawn of Blepharoplasty for Aesthetic Purposes

In the early 1900s, oculoplastic surgeons started removing upper eyelid skin for aesthetic purposes. Incision techniques invented at that time became the basis for techniques still used in cosmetic eyelid surgery today.

Also, during this time, the practice of marking the incisions made during eye surgeries like blepharoplasty became popular. This was an important step forward, as the markings helped make removal of excessive skin easier and more efficient; it also prevented doctors from removing much less skin as before.

It was also around this time that techniques in the postoperative care of incisions were introduced to reduce the effects of scarring during healing.

The Influence of the World Wars

Both World War I and II resulted in great advances in eye surgery. Because surgeons saw wounds and injuries they otherwise never would have seen, they were forced to make innovations to improve eyelid function as they worked to heal soldiers’ wounds and save their eyesight.

Cosmetic innovations were also necessary for doctors working to improve soldiers’ scars or disfigurement. They were able to refine existing techniques or experiment with new ones to find what worked.

In the 1920s, the psychological implications of cosmetic surgery were first published and taken into account, which is an important part of today’s treatment plans. In the 1950s, a precise anatomy of the eyelids was first detailed, leading to important improvements in blepharoplasty techniques.

Learn more about blepharoplasty at

The Last Three Decades of Cosmetic Eye Surgery

Since the 1980s, blepharoplasty has made incredible strides, most of which have enhanced outcomes, improved patient comfort during a procedure, and reduced associated complications.

As research methods have improved, oculoplastic surgeons now have a deeper understanding of eyelids and eye sockets, resulting in less invasive and more effective blepharoplasty procedures to correct aesthetic concerns of the eye.

Visit our Photo Gallery to see our patients’ amazing results at Los Angeles’ TabanMD.

Contact Dr. Taban for the Best in Current Cosmetic Eyelid Surgical Techniques and Outcomes

Without the contributions of those in the past, the current state-of-the-art techniques and technology for cosmetic eyelid surgery in Los Angeles would not exist or provide the satisfying results you’re looking for. To learn more about the blepharoplasty procedure, contact highly-regarded oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Mehryar (Ray) Taban to schedule a consultation. Contact us online or call (877) 958-9277 (in Beverly Hills) or (805) 669-9101 (Santa Barbara).

Next, read What to Expect from Orbital Decompression Surgery