What Is Canthoplasty and Is It Right for You?

Woman's beautifully-shaped eyes.

The eyes play an important role in your appearance. Wide, almond-shaped eyes are considered attractive, but genetics, aging and other factors can affect the eye shape. One option for rejuvenating or changing the eye shape is lateral canthoplasty, a type of eye surgery that can adjust the outer eye.

The outer eye where the bottom and upper eyelids meet impact the overall appearance of the eyes. If the corner of the outer eye droops or tapers, it can make the eyes look older and tired. Lateral canthoplasty tightens loose skin and reshapes the outer eye to make it look wider, similar to a cat’s eye.

Why Canthoplasty Is Performed

There are a few reasons why individuals seek canthoplasty to change their eye shape. This is usually performed as an elective, cosmetic surgery to improve appearance versus function. A similar surgery, canthopexy, is used to adjust and tighten the lateral canthal tendon for better function.

With lateral canthoplasty, the lateral canthus is lifted and reshaped. This is the outer corner of the eye, which can droop for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons people seek canthoplasty include:

  • Drooping lateral canthus from aging
  • Reshaping rounded eyes
  • Widening narrow eyes
  • Creating almond-shaped eyes
  • Rejuvenating eye shape in combination with blepharoplasty

While canthoplasty once was primarily used for older individuals to refresh the eye appearance or with Asian eyelid surgery, it is more popular now with younger adults. The cosmetic procedure can create alluring “cat eyes” that many people find attractive.

How Is Lateral Canthoplasty Performed?

Since there will need to be incisions to change the eye shape, lateral canthoplasty is usually performed under sedation and local anesthesia. While canthoplasty can be performed as a stand-alone surgery, it is usually combined with canthopexy, lower/upper blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) or Asian eyelid surgery.

During the procedure, small incisions are made near the outer corner of the eyes. The lateral canthus is carefully lifted to create the more youthful or “cat’s eye” appearance. If other procedures are performed, most can use the same incisions to adjust the upper or lower eyelids before sutures close the incisions.

Canthoplasty, or cat-eye surgery, requires 2-3 hours, possibly longer if other procedures are completed at the same time. Most patients can go home the same day after a brief recovery time at the surgical center. Vision is usually not impaired by the procedure, so patients can return to limited activities quickly.

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Recovery from Canthoplasty

You can expect to have some swelling, bruising and mild discomfort after a lateral canthoplasty procedure. There will be sutures at the corner of each eye that will be removed in about one week after surgery, unless dissolvable stitches are used, which will dissolve in 4-7 days.

While you can return to some activities within a few days, many people take two or more weeks off from work or social events to heal. After about 7-10 days, your incisions should be well on their way to healing, but it can take a month for all the swelling and redness in the eyes to dissipate.

Benefits of Lateral Canthoplasty

If you have droopy outer eyes that make you look sad or older, canthoplasty may have some worthwhile benefits. The procedure creates a wider eye that looks bright and alert. The slight lifting of the lateral canthus gives the eyes the cat-like appearance that many people desire.

With canthoplasty, you may look younger or more attractive. The results of canthoplasty can last for a decade or more – very few people ever need to have this procedure repeated, unlike some other cosmetic procedures that need constant revisions to maintain results.

Blepharoplasty Versus Canthoplasty

Blepharoplasty, or eyelid lift surgery, is similar to canthoplasty, but it is not the same surgery. Blepharoplasty is used to remove excess skin and fat from the upper or lower eyelids, then tightening the skin. Eyelid lift surgery is better for those who have hooded upper eyelids or bags under their eyes.

Canthoplasty is designed to only adjust the outer corner of the eye, not the skin on the upper or lower eyelids. This “cat-eye” surgery is meant to widen and adjust the eye shape with a slight elevation of the corners. If the eyelids need tightening or lifting, blepharoplasty can be completed at the same time.
Plastic surgeon consulting woman before eye cosmetic surgery.

Are You a Good Candidate for Canthoplasty?

If you are healthy and desire wider, more alert eyes, canthoplasty may be right for you. Whether you are younger and want the cat-eye appearance or are looking to tighten and lift sagging outer eyes, canthoplasty may accomplish the desired results.

If you are interested in learning more about lateral canthoplasty and other cosmetic eye procedures, contact a plastic surgeon in your area. Schedule a consultation and find out if cat-eye cosmetic surgery is right for you.