In our second opinion clinic at our Oculoplastic in Denver, we have patients who have had eyelid surgery elsewhere and have come to get evaluated for a complication or problem after their surgery. It surprises me how often that patients do not know that they should've had their surgery by an eyelid specialist or oculoplastic surgeon in the first place. I am also doubly surprised that some patients are unaware that eyelid surgeons even exist or what that specialty is.
What is an Oculoplastic Surgeon?
Oculoplastic Surgeons are specialists in eyelid, tear duct , orbit and facial procedures. Their expertise is eyelid surgery. Oculoplastic surgeons have certification in the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeons. Certification involves completion of the fellowship, passing a written exam, passing an oral exam and writing a thesis that has to be accepted by the society.
Can anyone say they are an Oculoplastic Surgeon?
Sadly, yes! Though certification in the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeons is required to say one is an ASOPRS certified oculoplastic surgeon, any doctor can say they are an eyelid specialist. There is literally no course, extra training, years of study that are required to make that claim. Bizarre right? Yes I think so. That is not a problem unless you are a patient and have surgery by someone claiming to be an eyelid specialist but has no certification or extra training.
How do I know if I am seeing an ASOPRS certified Oculoplastic Surgeon?
To see a certified specialist of the eyelids, a patient can look them up in ASOPRS.org. In each state, the oculoplastic specialists are listed with their locations.
What are the risks of getting eyelid surgery from a nonspecialist in the eyelids?
Eyelid specialists who are certified ASOPRS oculoplastic surgeons, perform 1000s of eyelid surgeries during training and often during the year. They perform cosmetic eyelid procedures commonly. The rate of complications is lower and the outcomes tend to be better when a specialist treats a patient for a disease. I tell patients all the time, my plumber could probably perform some electrical work on my house as well but their level of expertise is not that same as an electrician.
Is Dr Thiagarajah an ASOPRS Oculoplastic surgeon?
Yes, I am. I was certified in 2011 and my thesis was on Sculptra. I have performed 1000s of eyelid surgeries and that includes cosmetic eyelid surgery such as blepharoplasty.
If someone is not an ASOPRS oculoplastic surgeon could they safely perform my eyelid surgery?
The answer to that is yes but there is a lower standard of training and certification. Could that plumber in the previous example safely perform some basic electrical work? Sure. Is there a chance they could completely screw it up if there is something that is non standard with the wiring? Yes. It is the risk you take with your eyes and eyelids.