Kathleen, a 56-year-old lawyer from Seattle who was born and raised in Spokane, had been starting to feel self-conscious about her eyelids. They’d started to droop, and in doing some research she realized there was a way to fix it. She settled on upper eyelid surgery and started her journey with research on RealSelf.

We talked to Kathleen about her experience, how she feels now, and whether the procedure was worth it.

How did you decide on eyelid surgery?

“I started getting Botox treatments 10 to 15 years ago. I remembered at some point the doctor who was giving them to me said ‘There’s only so much I can do with your droopiness.’ I don’t think that I was as aware of it until she mentioned that. I started looking at earlier pictures of me and comparing, and I realized it is a little droopy. That’s when I started thinking about actually getting a procedure done. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of feeling like I was being vain, and I didn’t want to have to explain to people why I was taking time off from work. I actually felt self conscious about that. I didn’t want anybody thinking I was vain.

I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t worry about it now.”

What did you learn from your research?

“I didn’t even realize that there was any genetic factor. If you look through different family members of the generations, some people just tend to be droopier in that area than others. I found that out through doctors, eye surgeons I consulted with, and then from looking at some of my family members, we all agreed yeah I’ve had that since I was in my 30s.”

“I wanted to make sure that it didn’t change the appearance of my eyes. I like my eyes, and changing your eyes changes your appearance drastically. All I wanted was an improvement and less droopiness, so I knew from all my research that it is of paramount importance to go to the right doctor.”

Everything you need to know about eyelid surgery

What was the reaction after your surgery?

“I did not tell many people that I was getting the procedure done, and those I did, it was sort of the tester. When I said, ‘You know, I’m gonna get this upper blepharoplasty,’ I expected that some of the people I told would say ‘Awesome, do it! I want to do it!’ which is what happened. Some of the people I expected would say ‘Why are you gonna do that?’ said ‘Oh awesome, I want to do that!’ So I was actually pleasantly surprised people I knew were supportive of it, and it made them think ‘Hey, maybe I need that too.’”

Why are you sharing your story?

“People tend to be pretty hard on themselves. Over the years, it was very common for women to not tell their age. I tell my age right away. I am very proud of my age: I’m 56. It’s funny the things that people think they need to keep secret. It’s well known that getting cosmetic procedures is another secret that many women especially want to keep. I just don’t think that there’s anything scandalous or shameful about it. If you can say to people, ‘Yeah I just had this great eye surgery and I’m so happy,’ I think that’s something to feel good about.”

See Kathleen’s before and after

How has your journey helped you?

“I’m in a profession with a lot of men, and you really need to hold your own. It can be pretty confrontational. You want to be strong and feel good. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a holistic thing. If you feel good on the inside and confident, you feel good on the outside and confident. It makes you feel like you can take on whatever you need to take.”

“I would probably be lying if I didn’t say that I know your appearance does make a difference professionally, and that you are perceived a certain way. The reality is that the younger and more healthy looking I can appear is probably beneficial to my profession and my longevity in it.”

“I feel really good about myself. My mom raised me to believe that your appearance is not that important, and it’s what’s inside, which sounds a little cliche but it’s true. This was a woman who never had any treatments and wore lipstick only. I believed her. I feel good on the inside. I feel strong and confident and healthy. Taking care of the outside and taking care of your appearance enhances your life. It makes you feel even better. What’s not to want about that?”

The best options for droopy eyelids

What did you learn from your journey?

“Getting some kind of a cosmetic treatment is not going to change your life drastically. It’s not going to fix anything that you think might be wrong. But if there’s something that bothers you aesthetically, you research it, it’s something reasonable for you to do, it’s something that you feel is within your means, and you think that it will make you feel better, you should do it.”

Was it worth it?

“I’m really excited about this surgery. I really feel like it made a difference. I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with that, and it’s called being authentic. When you’re authentic, that makes you feel good. It makes you feel confident. You exude a certain confidence, and I think that also allows other people to feel authentic with you.”

“The only person you really need to answer to is yourself. If you are honest with yourself about your motivations, if you’re healthy and you are doing it for the right reasons—as opposed to this idea of trying to achieve perfection—I think that you’re the only one who can make that decision. It’s not up to anybody else. You don’t need anybody else’s permission.”