Can An Epicanthal Fold Be Surgically Made?

Q:  I have an unusual question. I’m half Chinese but my eyes are more Caucasian-looking. So I was wondering if there is a surgery to create an epicanthal fold at the medical canthus? ( the one that half covers/hides the tear duct). Some doctor once told it’s possible with a w-plasty or a jumping man flap to create a fold in the inner most part of the upper lid. And is it possible to lower the height of the eyelid? Like taking apart the previous fold and resetting it at a lower position? Many thanks and sorry for all the questions

A: The epicanthal fold area is composed of very thin and delicate skin that is prone to poor scarring, particularly in the Asian patient. Because of this scarring potential, unless the epicanthal fold is really prominent and bothersome, I generally steer away from surgical manipulation of this delicate skin.  Many of the operations described for epicanthoplasty, like the w-plasty and the jumping man flap, create a lot of tiny skin flaps and often scar poorly. They look great on paper and in diagrams, and do get rid of the epicanthal fold, but their scar result may not be a good trade-off. For this reason, I prefer a smaller z-plasty technique for epicanthoplasty which helps open up the narrowing effect that the fold has on the horizontal dimension of the eye.

Your question is one of the reverse of an epicanthoplasty or the creation of an epicanthal fold. I have never heard of that being done and certainly nothing is written about it. In my opinion that is possible through a different orientation of a z-plasty but my concern would be the scarring. As the fold of skin that would normally make up the epicanthal fold would likely have a line of scar on it, that may or may not have a natural appearance.

When you speak of lowering the height of the eyelid, are you referring to the location of the lid margin or the height of the supratarsal skin crease of the upper eyelid?

Please send me some photos of your eyes for my further assessment.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana