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Format: 04/24/2014
Format: 04/24/2014


Somerset Daily American: Surgery improves Rockwood woman's vision

Friday, November 27th, 2009

By Vicki Rock

Daily American Staff Writer

Judy Yachere didn’t realize how much she couldn’t see until she had laser eyelid surgery.

The 67-year-old Rockwood woman’s eyelids were “droopy.”

“I didn’t realize how much light was not getting into my eyes until surgery opened them,” she said. “The doctor said it was like wearing a ball cap pulled down to my eyebrows all the time, then taking it off.”

Her husband, Gene, went to an ophthalmologist at West Penn Allegheny Health System in Pittsburgh. She saw photographs on the wall of people who had laser eyelid surgery and told her husband that the before photographs looked like her. When her husband had cataract surgery, she asked his surgeon, Dr. Karen Lauer, about laser eyelid surgery. She said it wasn’t her department, but she should ask Dr. Erik Happ.

“Before I saw him, a girl in a store makeup booth told me her girlfriend had hers done, and her eyelids weren’t as bad as mine,” Yachere said. “When I put on mascara, it looked like eyeliner because my lids were so droopy. I realized I was raising my eyebrows, like when you’re surprised, so I could get more light in. My forehead was tired. So I went to Dr. Happ.”

Happ performed blepharoplasty, a procedure to remove excess skin, muscle and fat from around the eye. In the past three months, he has done about 12 blepharoplasties using a fiber optic laser instead of a scalpel.

“I’m always looking for a way to do procedures differently, more efficiently,” Happ said. “The biggest issue is to have a benefit for the patient.”

Lasers have been used for years to remove tumors. The laser attaches to a pen-like hand piece and enables the surgeon to make precise cuts. It cauterizes tissue as it cuts. That results in less swelling, less blood loss and less scarring. It is also easier for the surgeons because they are using fewer instruments. The fiber optic laser is a small portable unit that is easy to move.

It is better for the patient, Happ said.

“You don’t want to leave a big scar there,” he said. “This is as precise or even a better cut with less scarring.”

Patients who have had the procedure have told the surgeon that they’ve had no pain. He doesn’t think the procedure itself causes less pain, but since the swelling is less, the pain is less.

Eyelids droop as part of the aging process. The condition occurs equally among men and women, but women are more likely to seek blepharoplasty. When it is done only for cosmetic reasons, insurance won’t pay for the procedure. When blepharoplasty is done because the person is having trouble seeing, it is functional blepharoplasty and is covered by insurance.

Yachere had the surgery on Sept. 3. It took 45 minutes to one hour. It wasn’t painful.

To read more, visit the Daily American web site.


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