Louie, an English Bulldog, needed a little nip n’ tuck after being diagnosed with an eyelid condition at BluePearl in Tampa

As people age, our eyelids stretch, and the supportive muscles around our eyes tend to weaken. To fix this common yet pesky issue is a surgical procedure called blepharoplasty, which repairs droopy eyelids and may involve removing excess skin, muscle, and fat. In terms of popularity, blepharoplasty cosmetic procedures come in just second to a rhinoplasty (nose reshaping) with 325,112 performed annually, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s 2020 Plastic Surgery Statistic Report. Ironically, this procedure has become equally popular among our furry companions, with many veterinary professionals now coining the procedure “plastic surgery for pets”.

Some people may opt to have a blepharoplasty to improve the appearance of their eyelids, while others elect to have this procedure to improve their vision. In many pets, this procedure is medically necessary. Their eyelids can be too long (ectropion), too short, or roll inward (entropion), causing irritation to the eye and predisposing to corneal ulcers (a wound of the clear window of the eye). Although entropion is considered a hereditary disorder, medical professionals have not yet pinpointed the exact gene responsible for it. However, it is common in several dog breeds, including English Bulldogs, Chow Chows, Shar Peis, Golden Retrievers, Shih Tzus, Pugs, and tons more.

Louie with his owner Gina

Just recently, Louie, an 80lb English Bulldog, was brought into BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in Tampa for treatment of this specific condition (entropion). While his owner, Gina Trignani, realized he would need some form of corrective treatment when first picking him up from his foster, she could not help but fall in love with him at first sight.

I adopted him [Louie] from a foster, and I knew when I got him that he was going to need the surgery,” explained Gina. “But I fell in love with him the minute I met him. Once you love your dog like that, you will do anything in your power to make them more comfortable.”

Louie was diagnosed with entropion by the ophthalmology team at BluePearl in Tampa in January 2022. To give Louie a better quality of life, Gina decided to move ahead with entropion surgery – corrective surgery of the eyelids. Louie’s expert care team at BluePearl Tampa consisted of Kelli Zimmerman, DVM, DACVO, Ophthalmologist, and Tina Fargo, Ophthalmology Technician.

Entropion is inward rolling of the eyelids where the haired skin is able to abrade the corneal surface and the conjunctiva of the eye,” explained Dr. Zimmerman. “Once the dog is fully grown, we are able to surgically correct it. It is much like plastic surgery, providing a nip and tuck of the eyelids, in order to roll them outward.”

Common symptoms of entropion include squinting (either intermittently or by holding the eye completely shut) and excessive tearing (epiphora), with some dogs developing mucoid discharge from the eye. However, in many flat-faced dogs (brachycephalic breeds) with medial entropion – where the condition only affects the corner of the eyes near the nose – there may be no obvious signs of discomfort.

Surgery to resolve entropion usually involves removing a small strip of skin and muscle from below the eyelid margin. This area is then sutured together, pulling the eyelid into a more appropriate position. Following surgery, owners are advised to keep the area clean and free of discharge. Sutures typically stay in place for 10-14 days until the incisions have completely healed. An e-collar (cone) is often required to keep the pet from rubbing the incisions, causing further irritation to the eyes. Oral pain medications are prescribed and a topical antibiotic medication may be prescribed. In general, dogs can resume their normal activities once the sutures are removed, and the recheck is complete – confirming there are no additional complications.

After Louie got his cone off, he was a way different dog. He was running around for hours, going up and down the stairs; he moves faster now,” explained Gina. “Stairs used to take him awhile because he wasn’t that good at going up and down the stairs. He jumps, runs, and plays more.”

Close up of Louie getting walked.Like results seen in people who have undergone corrective eyelid surgery, quality of life for pets can be much improved with entropion surgery. Thanks to the expert ophthalmology team at BluePearl in Tampa, Louie is now living a more active and full life.