eyelid surgery anatomy

Far from just "a piece of skin covering the eye," the eyelid is one of the most complex structures in the body. Composed of multiple main layers with intricate connections, it's a remarkable tiny organ assigned a protective function far more important than "looking good."

To understand why perfectly healthy eyelids on one person can sometimes appear so different from those on another healthy person, you first have to learn the basic anatomy of not only the eyelid itself but also of the structures located immediately above, below, and behind the eye.

Likewise, to understand why some of the "beauty" of a youthful eyelid tends to fade over time, you also need to learn about the changing anatomical relationships and interactions between the lid, orbital, and surrounding periorbital tissues.

If you find yourself intimidated or bored by what may sound like technical minutiae, do consider this. Not until you've mastered at least the essentials of eyelid anatomy and physiology will you be able to evaluate the soundness (or lack thereof) or safety (or lack thereof) of the many disparate cosmetic procedures that now purport to restore aging lids to their once former glory.

Surface Landmarks and the Eye
Muscles of the Eyelid and Face
Orbital Septum
Deeper Eyelid and Orbit
Lower Lid in Cross-Section
Upper Lid in Cross-Section
Anatomy for Blepharoplasty (video)

External Anatomy of the Eyelids and Eye

A Medial Commissure Inner corner where eyelids join
B Lateral Commissure Outer corner where eyelids join
C Medial Canthus Tissues just beyond medial commissure
D Lateral Canthus Tissues just beyond lateral commissure
E Upper Eyelid Crease Indentation or fold in upper eyelid
F Lower Eyelid Margin Edge of eyelid
G Nasojugal Fold Indentation extending from lid down along nose
H Sclera White layer of eyeball
I Iris Colored layer inside of eyeball
J Pupil Hole in iris that lets in light
K Palpebral Fissure (Not labeled) Opening between the eyelids

The Eyelid and Facial Muscles

A Orbicularis Muscle (palpebral portion) Eyelid closing muscle
B Orbicularis Muscle (orbital portion) Eyelid closing muscle
C Frontalis Muscle Forehead muscle
D Procerus Muscle Muscle that lowers brows
E Corrugator Muscle Muscle that brings brows together
F Midfacial Muscles Muscles of the cheek
G Malar Fat Pad Large cheek fat pad
H Suborbicularis Fat (SOOF) Fat pad beneath orbicularis muscle
I Temporalis Muscle and Fascia Muscle of temple

The Orbital Septum (Muscles Removed) 

A Orbital Septum Layer holding back orbital fat
B Levator Aponeurosis Eyelid muscle tendon seen through septum

Deeper Eyelid and Orbital Anatomy (Septum Removed)

A Medial Canthal Tendon Tendon anchoring lids to bone
B Lateral Canthal Tendon Tendon anchoring lids to bone
C Upper Tarsus (Tarsal Plate) Stiffening element (like cartilage)
D Lower Tarsus (Tarsal Plate) Stiffening element (like cartilage)
E Levator Muscle (cut off at tendon) Main opening muscle of upper lid
F Superior Oblique Tendon Tendon of muscle moving eyeball
G Inferior Oblique Muscle Muscle moving eyeball
H Lacrimal Gland (Tear Gland) Gland that produces watery tears
I Lacrimal Sac (Tear Sac) Part of tear drainage system
J Fat Orbital fat extending into eyelids
K Orbital Rim Rim of socket bone

The Lower Eyelid in Cross-Section

A Eyeball
B Skin Epidermis on surface, dermis below
C Orbicularis Muscle Eyelid closing muscle
D Tarsus (Tarsal Plate) Stiffening element (like cartilage)
E Orbital Septum Layer holding back the orbital fat
F Orbital Fat Fat from the socket extending into lid
G Inferior Oblique Muscle Muscle moving the eyeball
H Lower Eyelid Retractors Structures that move the lid downward
I Orbital Bone Bone surrounding the eye; socket
J Conjunctiva Lining of the back of eyelid and front of eye
K Periosteum Lining of the bone (called 'periorbita' in orbit)

The Upper Eyelid in Cross-Section



asian upper eyelid anatomy occidental upper eyelid anatomy

Skin Subcutaneous Fat
Orbicularis Muscle Eyebrow Fat Pad
Orbital Septum Orbital Fat
Levator Aponeurosis Tarsal Plate

Narrated Overview of Eyelid Anatomy

eyelid surgery resource
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Greater Los Angeles and Southern California
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Atlas of Eyelid and Facial Anatomy