Why do people need pterygium surgery?
Although most pterygia are harmless and can be left alone safely; they are surgically removed for the following reasons:
- Vision: If a pterygium is obstructing vision.
- Discomfort: If a pterygium is causing excessive irritation due to dryness / inflammation or a persistent foreign body sensation.
- Cosmetic: If a pterygium is unsightly or cosmetically unappealing.
What is the success rate of pterygium surgery?
Pterygium surgery is very successful. However, the recurrence rate is often as high as 30 to 40 percent and they tend to come back bigger and faster.
Can all candidates have a pterygium surgery?
No, the best patients are those who are healthy, psychologically stable and well motivated. Some medical conditions may increase the risk of pterygium surgery. Patients with significant eye problems like glaucoma or dry eyes may not be eligible. Uncontrolled high blood pressure or thyroid disease is also of concern. Through consultation and examination, we can determine if you’re a candidate for this rewarding procedure.
Is pterygium surgery performed on both men and women?
Yes. It should be noted that a significant number of men and women of all ages elect to have pterygium surgery.
What is the right age to undergo pterygium surgery?
There is no correct age for obtaining pterygium surgery. If you are in good health without serious eye problems, your age alone should not keep you from having this procedure.
Can pterygium surgery be a medical necessity?
If pterygium is interfering in your field of vision, the procedure may be covered as a “medically necessary” surgery. Before surgery, your ophthalmologist will perform a comprehensive eye examination. Photographs are often required by insurance companies before surgery to determine if the procedure is medically necessary. Final decision is made by your insurance carrier after reviewing your condition. Pingueculum surgery is not covered by insurance unless there is a medical necessity. Patients should check with their insurance carrier about their coverage. As a general rule, insurance does not cover cosmetic surgery.
Are there any visible scars from the pterygium surgery?
Most of the time there is no visible scar after the healing is complete. Once healed, the hairline scars will fade.
What if I have a history of bad scars?
If you have pierced ears, the way you healed there is a good indication of how you will heal from pterygium surgery. Scars on the rest of the body typically are not an indication for how patients heal following pterygium surgery. At the time of your consultation, it’s important to show your physician any previous scars (called keloid scars) that are of concern so your doctor can give you a realistic assessment of your healing potential following pterygium surgery. If you have a history of abnormal scarring, there are medications that can be used to help prevent excess scarring.
Is the result of pterygium surgery permanent?
Surgery is the only way to remove a pterygium, but the results can be disappointing. Even with modern techniques, the recurrence rate is often as high as 30 to 40 percent and they tend to come back bigger and faster.
How is the pterygium surgery performed?
Pterygium surgery is usually performed by giving small local anesthesia injection to numb the tissues. Generally there is no pain during surgery. If you are very nervous, you will be given a Valium pill to help you relax. A light intravenous sedation may also be given. Patients are awake during surgery. Patients do not hear or feel anything and are comfortable during surgery. Pterygium surgery is commonly done on an outpatient basis.
Will I be in pain?
After any surgical procedure, some discomfort can be expected. All patients are provided with prescriptions for pain medication. Patients have surprisingly little discomfort after most pterygium procedures. Generally over the counter Tylenol is all patients need (together with ice packs) placed over their eyes for 24 hours. An occasional patient will report unmanageable pain after surgery.
How will I feel after my pterygium surgery?
Your eyes will be patched closed. After surgery, patients usually spend at least one day resting with their head elevated on a pillow and often apply ice packs to reduce swelling. Some patients report a dull headache and tenderness or discomfort. You may also experience temporary numbness.
How long does the pterygium surgery take?
The length of surgery depends on several factors including the complexity of each person’s pterygium. Usually, surgery takes about half an hour.
Can I drive myself back home?
No, you should not drive yourself. Someone will need to drive you home after your surgery. Someone will need to drive you back to our office for your first postoperative appointment.
How long will it take before I look normal?
Usually, patients look normal after about two to three weeks of surgery. Some patients heal faster, and others take longer. However, at two weeks you know you are well on the way to recovery.
Is there swelling and bruising after the procedure?
Your eye will look very red for about 1-2 weeks after the surgery.
How safe is the pterygium surgery? Are there any complications or side effects?
All surgeries have some risks. If performed by a competent surgeon, complications are infrequent and minor. The vast majority of these operations go perfectly well with excellent results and happy patients. All patients will experience some bruising and swelling for a few days after the surgery. Any surgery has some risk of bleeding and infection. Dr. Tandon will discuss any possible risks with you before surgery is done, and answer all of your questions. Visual impairment is extremely rare. There may be some temporary sensitivity to bright light or wind and we recommend wearing dark glasses when outside.
How soon can I go back to work after pterygium surgery?
New techniques have significantly reduced healing times. However, each patient’s healing time varies with the type of procedure performed, medical history and physical health. You can expect to go to your work place after a week.
When can I resume regular exercise or play sports after pterygium surgery?
You should plan to take it easy and not work out or play sports for a week. Aerobic and other exercise programs are not allowed for at least two weeks to decrease the risks of bleeding, swelling and bruising.
When can I return to normal activities?
Most patients watch TV within 1-2 days after surgery. People generally can read and work at the computer.
When can I take a shower or tub bath?
You may take a tub bath and wash your hair in the sink any time following the procedure. Hot steamy showers should be avoided because they could prolong swelling. Routine showers at one week are fine.
When can I wear contact lenses after pterygium surgery?
Generally, you should stay out of contact lenses for at least two weeks after surgery. Get final clearance from your surgeon before using contact lenses.
When will my surgeon see me again after the pterygium surgery?
We see all surgery patients one day after the surgery. Further follow-up will depend upon your individual condition and schedule. Dr. Tandon will be available to see you in the office, if necessary. There is no charge for future visits after surgery.
If I am eligible for the surgery, what is the next step?
Schedule a pre-op appointment with your surgeon at NeoVision Eye Center. In keeping with our efforts to maintain the highest standards of patient safety and in an ongoing effort to avoid possible complications, we ask that each of our pterygium patients undergo an extensive and comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist prior to surgery. During your pre-op visit, your health history will be reviewed, all your questions will be answered, you will be instructed on how to prepare for surgery, you will be given the prescriptions for use after surgery and we will tell you what to expect. If you are on blood thinners, you will be asked to stop them approximately two weeks prior to surgery. You will be asked to sign an informed consent. Full fee for the pterygium surgery is due at the time of your pre-op visit.
What does “informed consent” mean?
Informed consent means you have an excellent understanding about the benefits of surgery as well as any risks, and all the preoperative and postoperative information. You are making an “informed” decision as to whether surgery is right for you.
Are there any dietary restrictions before the procedure?
Anesthesia medications can cause stomach upset. The best way to prevent after effects from anesthesia will be to avoid food or drink from midnight the night before surgery.
Are there any dietary restrictions following pterygium surgery?
No. Patients can eat whatever they want.
Will I need any special prescriptions following pterygium surgery?
Yes. Postoperative prescriptions are provided well in advance of surgery day so you arrive home completely prepared. Postoperative prescriptions and over-the-counter medications for pterygium patients include the following: Pain medication (usually Vicodin hydrocodone) to minimize any discomfort following surgery and antibiotic ophthalmic ointment (Polysporin bacitracin ophthalmic) to place gently in the operated eye.
When do I start taking these prescriptions?
Patients take their pain medication as needed. You will begin the antibiotic and pain medications when you arrive home from surgery.
Who will do my pterygium surgery?
Dr. Tandon will meet with you, examine you, and discuss all the possible complications, answer all of your questions, and perform the surgery. Dr. Tandon, MD, PhD is a trained eye physician and surgeon from Stanford University. She is a Certified by American Board of Ophthalmology.
What are NeoVision’s charges for a pterygium surgery?
At NeoVision Eye Center, we believe the fairest approach is to offer pterygium surgery for one Flat Fee. That is why we offer one global comprehensive fee, which includes all pre-operative, surgical, and post-operative care. A price estimate will be given at your consultation for pterygium surgery. Fees reflect the specific problem that you have and the extent of surgery to correct it.
Will my insurance company pay for pterygium surgery?
Most of these operations are cosmetic in nature and are not covered by insurance. If pterygium is interfering in your field of vision, the procedure may be covered as a “medically necessary” surgery and some insurance plans will pay for all or part of the surgery. Pinguecula are generally not covered by insurance unless there is a medical reason. Patients should check with their insurance carrier about their coverage.
How will my insurance company decide whether I need pterygium surgery for medical or cosmetic reason?
Before surgery, your ophthalmologist will perform a comprehensive eye examination. Photographs are often required by insurance companies before surgery to determine if the procedure is medically necessary. The final decision is made by your insurance carrier after reviewing your condition.
I am ready to get my pterygium surgery at NeoVision, what is the next step?
Schedule a complimentary, no-obligation personal evaluation with your surgeon at NeoVision Eye Center to determine if you are a likely candidate for pterygium surgery. There is absolutely no-fee for this assessment, whether or not you choose to have the procedure done. Call 1-510-431-5511.
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