Dr. Jeff Popp has made eyelid reconstruction an important part of his Omaha practice. And he knows which lid he’d rather rebuild.
“The upper eyelid is a greater challenge than the lower lid,” he said. “That’s because the upper eyelid goes up and down and moves the most.
“That movement can be difficult to mimic.”
He said when you lose most or all of an upper eyelid, it’s really tough.
“The inner lining of the eyelids contain a lot of the mucous and tear-secreting glands that protect the eye,” Dr. Popp said.
“You can definitely put them into a bad dry-eye state if they don’t lubricate well.”
Outside differs from inside
The outside of your eyelid is made of skin, but not the inside. If the inner eyelid was skin, Dr. Popp said it would feel like sandpaper going over your eyeball.
The inner eyelid is made up of a slippery and slimy mucous membrane. He said it’s similar to what’s inside your mouth.
“That’s why there aren’t that many doctors doing eyelid reconstruction. It’s a complicated area.
Uppers versus lowers
Dr. Popp actually works more on lower eyelids than on upper eyelids. Cancer is more commonly found in the lower.
“The lower lids don’t present as much of a challenge as the uppers,” he said. “You still must recreate the same materials, but you don’t address movement issues as much.”
But Dr. Popp said the biggest challenge is when cancer attacks both eyelids.
“I’ve had patients who were missing all of their lower lids and upper lids,” he said. “If an eyelid’s removed because it was engulfed with cancer, the patient usually has it removed and reconstructed right afterward.”
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