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Canthoplasty: Nasal and Temporal

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A canthoplasty is a surgery performed to shorten the length of the eyelids. It is generally performed in order to prevent or to stop the hair from the nasal folds from contacting the cornea and causing irritation and scarring.


Scarring to the surface of the eye can occur for a number of reasons. For instance, many pets are unable to fully close their eyes when blinking leaving the center of their cornea constantly exposed to air. This may also occur in pets that sleep with their eyes partially open. A canthoplasty may also be recommended as a preventative measure if your pet is at risk for pushing his eye in front of his eyelids (a proptosis, “poping out”). This usually is a risk factor for pets with bulging eyes. Pets with larger eyelid opening and protruding eyes often expose or rub their eyes on different things causing damage to their eyes. This may develop into a film-like scar tissue on their eyes or result in a corneal abrasion (or ulceration).


Whenever your pet is showing signs of a health issue your first step is to contact your primary care veterinarian. If it is indicated that your pet may suffer from corneal scarring or another serious condition, a veterinary specialist is available at an ExpertVet certified hospital.


Prior to Surgery:

The procedure involves first getting complete blood work and a urinalysis prior to the day of the surgery. These tests are important in reaching an accurate pre-operative evaluation, assuring the goal of a safe anesthesia, and leading to the best possible recovery for your pet. On the day of the surgery, you will not feed your pet breakfast and will need to bring all of your medication with you.



When your pet is admitted for surgery, s/he will be given a sedative to help her/him relax. Later, an IV catheter will be placed for medication and fluid administration. General anesthesia will keep your pet asleep and pain-free during surgery. A surgical team will be monitoring your pet before, during and after surgery. While under general anesthesia, a local block (like a dentist gives) will be placed in the eyelids to keep your pet comfortable after surgery. A “V” shaped section of eyelid and skin is removed along the nasal (inner corner) or temporal (outside corner) side of the eyes. The incisions are closed with 2 layers of sutures. This closure makes the lid opening smaller, protecting the globe.



After surgery, an Elizabethan collar will be placed on your pet to prevent rubbing at the sutures. Your pet will go home the same day of the surgery with written instructions regarding medications and post-surgical activity restrictions. The sutures will need to be removed in 12-14 days.



Successful canthoplasty surgery requires care and attention by both owner and ophthalmologist. Complications after canthoplasty are incredibly infrequent, but can include: infection at the incision, premature suture removal by the pet, and, very rarely, hair growth in irregular directions that may necessitate a second procedure. It is to be stressed that these are very seldom seen and almost all patients recover from surgery without any complications.


Alternatives to Surgery:

Diligent application of topical tear-promoting medication or lubricants is a second option for some pets. For most pets and owners, canthoplasty offers a high surgical success rate, convenience of requiring less long-term medical treatment, and the ability to protect the eye for the life of your pet.

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