Learning about blepharoplasty on the Internet is more difficult than many people imagine, especially when it comes to finding much beyond the same basic content. That's because "content" is not the same thing as "information." The former is more of a "filler" put there for different reasons while the latter denotes "education."
What is Available
Most big-name medical school and official Board mega-sites that dominate medical search engine listings are watered-down to the point of near uselessness. Each reads like a clone of the others, one or two pages of minimal content extolling this or that procedure while glossing over serious discussion of options, alternatives, controversy, or anything that might go against the sponsoring institutions. Conflict of interest? Of course, and why not? The very purpose of their Internet existence is to promote their supporting member physicians and encourage you to use their services.
But is over-abundance necessarily better, like that found on sprawling social communities with thousands of seemingly random and frequently contradictory opinions posted by nearly anyone with an email address? Don't confuse quantity with quality or marketing with education. If you weren't confused to start, you may be once you're done.
Spending hours viewing before-and-after photo galleries or videos of doctors doing surgery may be interesting, but unless you already understand what you're looking at and how to evaluate, you're wasting precious time and learning next to nothing.
Then what about personal practitioner websites? Most are understandably skimpy on educational content beyond what you can already find everywhere, instead focusing on practical matters -- introducing the doctor, the practice, the office, the staff, and demonstrating examples of their own patients, all of which will become very useful once you've progressed from "merely interested" to "seriously ready."
And the television shows hosted by real doctors offering advice on the latest treatment options? In a recent University of Alberta study, its authors concluded that "the research supporting these recommendations is frequently absent, contradictory, or of poor quality." In specifically considering the Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors, they found that between one-half and two-thirds of recommendations did not have believable evidence to support them.
So what's left? The public library? It's unlikely there's much there on blepharoplasty, but you can always self-purchase a printed textbook written by surgeons, for surgeons.
Most are excellent, although they're very expensive, quite technical, and sometimes years out of date. Authoritative reference tomes are teaching tools intended for seasoned experts already familiar with the subject; it's unlikely you'll make it through the first chapter. Besides, doing one is not the same as having one, and some of the more practical topics pertaining to the patient experience are unlikely to be addressed.
Even more esoteric are the original five page medical journal articles that can be downloaded from the publisher at $40-$60 a pop.
What About A Face-to-Face Consultation?
While you'll need to meet with a surgeon or two before making any final decisions, don't expect too much in the way of detailed information. The average blepharoplasty consultation lasts about 20-40 minutes, but some are shorter. After hellos, an examination, and a recommendation, that leaves little time for broad-ranging discussions from even the most patient-friendly expert. The reality is this: with an office full of other patients and perhaps one already waiting in the operating room, it's simply not possible for even the fastest-talking surgeon to cover anything approaching the amount of valuable information provided here.
Consider your consultation more like a "final exam." Blepharoplasty 101 represents your learning over the course of the semester.
Standard of Care
Perhaps we should stop now and ask a more fundamental question. Does a potential patient interested in blepharoplasty even need to perform personal "research" before going under the knife? After all, hasn't the medical establishment defined a set of "standard of care" guidelines for its practitioners to follow?
Most people prefer to take part in major decision-making as long as they can amass reliable information on which to base a sound opinion. Who shops for a car without first putting forth serious effort to determine what to buy and at what price and from whom? Who walks into a showroom and purchases the first model suggested?
So, where is this "standard of care" for blepharoplasty published? Nowhere. "Standard of care" is a legal concept that means little more than 'a prudent decision made by a competent doctor in the local community'. In actual medical practice, however, there is no manual of "operating instructions" to which all must adhere.
That's because most surgical conditions have a variety of possible approaches that can each be considered "prudent" in the right setting. Even the best doctors in the field can have widely differing opinions based on their own unique training, experience, and vested interests. For conditions like lower eyelid bagginess, for instance, recommendations from top practitioners can be all over the board. While that doesn't mean there is no best answer for your specific needs, it does mean that it may take more than an hour or two of effort to find it.
If this all sounds confusing, that's because it is. And if there is no obvious way to make sense of it, then why bother trying? That's why so many patients simply agree to whatever is recommended after their first twenty minute visit with a surgeon.
What about Blepharoplasty 101? Could it serve to clarify?
Thanks for asking because that's its very purpose. Intended for the serious lay reader trying to understand blepharoplasty, it moves start to finish in a carefully organized way, distilling highly technical information from a wide variety of sources.
It's a convenient self-paced course that presents practical and intelligent consumer-level information rather than medical pablum or marketing, neither superficially frivolous nor unbearably into minutia. Intended for the general public rather than blepharoplasty surgeons, it's e-learning for the rest of us.
Problems With "Free Content"
While the mantra "information wants to be free" from the '60s once sounded nice, that's not the way it turned out. Producing a quality educational tutorial uses up serious time and resources. Making it freely available makes no sense if you think about it, even though many unsuspecting readers have been trained to expect it.
In fact, online content is almost never free. Yes, its price may be zero dollars, but its non-monetary costs to you can be quite substantial. That's because the currency used with "free" content is not dollars but data.
Monetization of voluntarily and involuntarily divulged user data carries very big costs to the consumer, including loss of privacy, page-by-page activity tracking, intrusive advertising, email and phone spam, inclusion on data or mailing lists readily bought and sold, risk of losing sensitive personal data on poorly-secured databases, and so on. Even when a "fake" name is used to register, one database can be merged with another from a second company and one's true identity is then in the clear.
Of even more concern when the subject at hand is medical care are the physical costs of hidden marketing, that is, thinking you are consuming accurate and unbiased information instead of being coaxed by a disguised "infomercial" into a surgical transaction you might not have otherwise considered.
Why Trust Us
How much of your personal information do we track or sell? None.
How much cheerleading for the profession do you have to endure to obtain a few paragraphs of "free" content? None.
How many times will we offer to perform your surgery? Dr. Meronk is recently retired, so the only possible answer is, again, none.
The course is, pure and simple, a comprehensive e-learning resource, the cohesive work of a recognized "insider" long known for helping potential patients understand and evaluate their many options. It's packed with first-hand material knowledge gained from over three decades spent caring for tens of thousands of cosmetic and revision blepharoplasty patients.
What is meant by the term "Insider"?
An "insider" is a member of a group with restricted access (in this case, experienced blepharoplasty specialists) who is privy to esoteric or obscure information that can provide useful guidance to those outside of the group.
Learn more about the author.
How It's Structured
Developed over a period of fifteen years, our course content has been read by millions of visitors (including many oculoplastic surgeons) from around the world. Consisting of 45 main modules containing over 500 pages of articles, photos, diagrams, and videos, it covers every facet of blepharoplasty and is regularly updated to reflect state-of-the-art.
The course is self-directed (start at the very beginning and progress orderly to the end or start where you like and skip around according to your interests) and self-paced (immerse yourself in the material or take your time), your choice. There are no formal assignments, tests, final exams, or tutors monitoring you so relax and learn until you're confident. As with any course, the more effort you put into it, the more you'll get out of it.
Two months allows more than enough time to cover the material at a comfortable pace. If you also want the course information around for your surgery and recovery, consider the four month enrollment option.
The progression of material is as follows:
We start off with a planning module (Topics 1-12). In these chapters, we'll teach you what you should know to better understand the group of procedures that make up modern "blepharoplasty" to be presented in more detail later on. We'll describe pertinent facial and eyelid anatomy and physiology (don't worry -- it's not as dry as it sounds) and explain common eyelid signs and symptoms that lead people to seek out eyelid surgery. We'll then discuss general treatment issues, such as your choice of operating room facility and the different types of available anesthesia and lots on the costs. We'll also offer an a great deal of guidance on how to get the most out of your consultation and how to identify, evaluate, and select an eyelid specialist.
Next, we delve into the specifics of blepharoplasty and a number of related operations and adjuncts (Topics 13-27). We'll present their treatment variations and discuss how each is performed, the results you can reasonably expect, and plenty about each procedure's pros, cons, and alternatives. We'll tell you about which eyelid operations are established, new, antiquated, or still developmental. We'll also review certain procedures you may wish to approach with caution.
Next up comes a detailed look at the risks you face by electing to undergo blepharoplasty surgery and then an overview of the most effective revision techniques to address any complications should they arise (Topics 28-30).
We'll tell you about what most people need to do (and not do) to prepare for a typical blepharoplasty, after which we'll walk you through the experience from the perspective of a patient and again explain what you need to do (and not do) to recover and heal (Topics 31-40). While none of these suggestions should take preference over your own cosmetic surgeon's instructions, you'll find a great deal of good information here and may even discover some useful tricks.
Plus, there's more, such as four self-contained modules on Before and After Photos, Eyelid Hollowness, Asian Eyelid Surgery, and Reconstructive Eyelid Surgery as well as an extensive Glossary and an Atlas of Eyelid and Orbital Anatomy. Included is a sneak-peek of Blepharoplasty 2.0, eye plastic surgery of the future.
Please understand that this course is not intended to replace or contradict any advice from your own cosmetic surgeon, who, in the end, will examine you and then offer an appraisal of your personalized needs. Use this resource to learn about the subject and to help formulate your questions, but act only on your own doctor's recommendations. He or she is the one treating you, not us.
Ready, Set, Go
That's it for the introduction. Now prop open those baggy eyelids and brew yourself a pot of coffee. It's time to get started . . .