Chalazion Surgery – Important Facts to Consider
Chalazion surgery is often the final option recommended by doctors to remove a cyst, especially when it has grown large enough that the chalazion symptoms cause astigmatism and affect one’s vision. It is also the option taken by those who want their chalazia gone, technically, in a day. Chalazion surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure, unless complications occur that will necessitate a longer hospital stay. The surgical procedure for chalazion removal is called incision and curettage. It is carried out by an ophthalmologist.
Before Chalazion Surgery
Days before the chalazion surgery, your ophthalmologist will tell you about general preparations you’ll need to make. For instance, he or she will most likely advice you to quit smoking and stop taking certain medications (e.g. aspirin) that can interfere with blood clotting. You should ask your doctor questions about the procedure — especially regarding what to expect during and after the surgery. It’s always a good idea to go into any surgical procedure knowing as much as possible.
Also, make sure that you arrange for someone to drive you home after the incision and curettage. Even if it’s only done under local anesthesia, you will be in no position to drive immediately after the operation and will probably be told this by your doctor beforehand.
On the day of the operation, go to the hospital with your eyeglasses instead of contact lenses as you will not be allowed to wear contacts. Expect your blood pressure, heart rate and even your urine to be tested before you go into chalazion surgery. You will also be asked to sign a consent form which basically states that you completely understand the procedure you are about to undergo and are allowing your doctor to proceed.
Chalazion Surgery – The Procedure
Chalazion surgery usually lasts only 20 to 30 minutes, provided that there are no complications or other problems while you are under the knife. The excision procedure usually begins with anesthetic drops being placed in your eyes to numb it. Local anesthesia will then be directly injected into your eyelid. While you will be awake the whole time, you will not feel anything in the eye where the chalazion will be removed.
Once the chalazion doctor has already ascertained that the anesthesia has already worked, your eyelid will be everted or lifted and turned inside out using a clamp or forceps. A very small incision will be made on top of the cyst inside your eyelid. The tissue inside the lump and any chalazion drainage or discharge will then be curetted or scooped out and sent to the laboratory to determine if there is a chalazion cancer connection. The lance on the gland is then left to drain in a smaller chalazion while the cut in larger nodules will be stitched very finely. Antibiotic ointment medicine or eye drops will then be administered to stave off infection before the eye is covered with a patch.
To give you a better idea of what goes on, here is a brief, 2 minute chalazion removal video:
Chalazion Surgery Aftercare and Recovery Time
After the procedure, you may then return home as soon as you feel ready. The nurse, upon the advice of your doctor, will advise you when to remove the patch and what painkillers to take when the anesthesia wears off. You will also be given antibiotic eye drops or ointment to apply for about a week and a schedule for your next appointment with the doctor which will usually happen in three to four weeks. During this time, you will know if the chalazion tissues sent to the laboratory are cancerous or not.
Make sure that you do not rub your eye and you should expect some discoloration and swelling for a week following the surgery. While you can wash your hair after the operation, care must be taken that you do not put water into the operated eye. You will also be given advice by your doctor about when you can start wearing make up and contact lenses again. Follow these guidelines strictly.
Should you feel severe pain, redness, swelling and discharge on the site of the operation, go back to your doctor right away as this could be a sign of infection.
Risks of Chalazion Surgery
As long as an experienced eye doctor performs the incision and curettage, the risks of chalazion surgery should be minimal. However, complications do occur in some uncommon situations. This can include a reaction to anesthesia, excessive bleeding or infection. In very rare cases, the bleeding can become serious and spread into the bloodstream. When this happens, you will need to be admitted to the hospital and be given intravenous antibiotics.
Note that chalazion surgery is not a guard against recurrences. There is a chance that chalazia will come back — those who have it before have a greater chance of the nodules recurring. When it does return, go to your doctor so he or she can prescribe the best course of action to take.
In very rare cases, a chalazion can be caused by other conditions such as a skin disorder or cancer of the meibomian gland or other tissues in your eyelid. It is best to see your doctor when re-growth occurs.
Another extremely rare complication that can happen is when the chalazion is incompletely removed. When not all the tissues of the chalazion are removed, the area becomes scarred, lumpy and very uncomfortable. To remedy this situation, you will need another operation.
These cases, however, are very rare. For as long as you have the procedure done by a reputable doctor in a well-equipped facility, you can rest assured that you will come out chalazion-free in the end.
Chalazion Surgery – Final Considerations
While chalazion surgery is a minor procedure, exhausting all non-surgical chalazion treatment methods to remove the eyelid cyst is always a good idea. Your doctor will certainly recommend that you follow this protocol first before going under the knife.
However, when the chalazion has grown so large so as to cause discomfort in your cornea and blur your vision, no other option remains except surgical removal of the chalazion. Learn all you can about it. Ask your doctor questions and remember that only a well-informed patient can make enlightened decisions about his or her health. By knowing what the advantages and disadvantages are and choosing the right doctor, you can make the most of your chalazion surgery.