Prevalence of lacrimal gland prolapse in the functional blepharoplasty population.

Research paper by Guy G GG Massry

Indexed on: 11 Jun '11Published on: 11 Jun '11Published in: Ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery


Traditional functional blepharoplasty has focused on the excision of variable amounts of skin, muscle, and fat, with little attention given to the finding of the lacrimal gland prolapse (LGP). The reported incidence of LGP found on clinical examination, on patients of all ages presenting for blepharoplasty, is 15%. The author's experience with the procedure in the older age group (older than 60), is that this percentage is much lower than that found at surgery. To verify whether this is correct, the author evaluated lacrimal gland position intraoperatively in a group of patients undergoing functional upper blepharoplasty. In those patients who had LGP, the author routinely repositioned the gland and evaluated surgical outcomes.The author evaluated the presence of an intraoperatively displaced lacrimal gland in his functional blepharoplasty population over a 2.5-year period (2008-2010). Patients with a history of previous eyelid surgery, trauma, or who had concurrent ptosis or other eyelid malpositions were excluded from the study. When present, the degree of prolapse was graded as mild (0-2 mm), moderate (3-5 mm), or severe (6 mm or more). The author arbitrarily suture-repositioned the gland in all patients with 4 mm or more of prolapse. In cases with less prolapse, light cautery to the tip of the gland capsule and surrounding soft tissue allowed adequate repositioning without suture fixation. Pertinent patient demographics and postoperative complications were documented. Patients were seen consistently to 6 months after surgery with an average follow up of 12 months.Fifty-seven patients were included in the study. Thirty-four patients (60%) had some degree of LGP. Of these, 8 patients (24%) had mild prolapse, 23 patients (67%) had moderate prolapse, and 3 patients (9%) had severe prolapse. Nineteen patients (56%) with LGP had the gland suture-repositioned, and 15 patients (44%) received cautery to retro-place the gland. In one patient (3%), transient dry-eye symptoms developed after surgery. Otherwise, there were few benign and self-limiting postoperative complications, consisting of prolonged upper eyelid swelling and transient mild pain.Lacrimal gland prolapse is a common finding during functional upper blepharoplasty surgery and appears to be a normal involutional periorbital aging change. Most cases are moderate in degree (as defined in the article), and not associated with specific preoperative symptoms or complaints, except lateral hooding with concomitant visual field deficit. Repositioning the gland intraoperatively is generally complication free and typically not associated with increased morbidity or healing time. The clinical significance of LGP in the elderly undergoing blepharoplasty surgery is unknown and requires further study.