Monolid No More

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Everything I say here is my opinion from my own experience. Please do your own research and consult with your doctor before undertaking anything invasive. I take no responsibility for your actions.

The title is pretty self-explanatory but I got double eyelid stitching done on my previous trip to Malaysia and I’ve been itching to blog about it and now that it’s almost fully healed I can do a post complete with after photos.

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Click to enlarge

For the last two years I’ve been thinking about undergoing some kind of double eyelid procedure, whether surgical or not. The reason why being that my eyelids are very, very uneven. I was born with monolids but somewhere in my teens I started developing a double eyelid on my left eye, which at the time was kind of funny and I began to hope that my right eye would do the same but it never did. Instead the crease in my left eye just got more and more prominent and particularly when I wore make up, it would look like one eye was bigger than the other. I complained almost everyday to anyone who could be bothered to listen. Most people said they couldn’t “really” notice which to their defence is probably true but I didn’t believe them because I saw myself everyday and it was so me as if I had a tree growing on my face in the place of my right eye. I started to wear eyelid tape just on one eye but I was pretty worried of the long-term effects of tugging at my eyelids constantly.

My family has been really supportive of me getting something done to fix it. My mom was always on the lookout for good surgeons in Malaysia whose methods seemed to be popular or effective. And it was my aunt who initially offered the procedure to me as a 21st present. It took me two years to come to a yes decision. I thought about it constantly and like I mentioned above, it didn’t look so bad when I had no make up on but it became really pronounced when I did. I took a lot of photos and sent them to my mom. Not so much glamour selfies but mug shot looking pictures (that only a mother could love) describe how much I didn’t like the way they looked. The final straw was during one of my internships last year when my boss received a copy of a book to review with the author on the cover. She commented that she knew the lady and that if you look closely at the photo, one eye was obviously bigger than the other. Upon observation I realised that what gave off this impression was really that she too had uneven eyelids. I became truly adamant after that to get something done, the question would merely be where, when and what procedure.

In tossing up whether I should do the surgery or the stitching I considered several factors. First of all there actually aren’t just two options. I was told that there are at least twenty different types of stitching methods and I would assume a variety of different surgical procedures too. But my rough understanding between the two was that a surgical procedure (or blepharoplasty) involves a number of incisions including cutting off excess skin from the eyelid. No incisions are made with stitching as it involves sewing into your eyelid with surgical thread to create the double eyelid crease. Understandably you can expect a longer downtime for the surgical procedure. There will be swelling and bruising for both procedures but stitching should take less than a month while surgery is said to take 2-3 months. Stitching is also reversible as most doctors will be able to remove the thread and your eye shape should go back to normal. However in terms of longevity, stitching usually lasts for about 8 years before the eyelid starts to sag. According to my doctor this is usually from people tugging at the eyelid rather than the strength of the thread. Surgery should last much longer, 10-15 years or more? Naturally there is no best method, it depends on what suits you, your lifestyle and the look you are trying to achieve. I decided to go with the stitching method because the shorter downtime meant it should be relatively alright by the time I got back to Sydney. I was also pretty worried about it all going wrong even though the odds are slim, so I liked that it was reversible.

Anyway with all this “my doctor this”, “my doctor that” where did I end up going to? My mom had heard from a friend about a pretty well known clinic in Publika called Rachel Chew Clinic, formerly known as Skin Art Clinic I think. One of her friends had done her stitching there and upon perusing their Instagram and Facebook page, all the results seemed to be quite good. Which makes sense anyway, it’s not like they would publicise about a botched job on their own social media accounts. But mom and I were convinced enough that she made an appointment for me two weeks ago on a Wednesday which was the day I arrived from Hong Kong. Consultation was free for us and is free at the moment but I heard they are moving to charging for consultation.

Dr Rachel is a GP so none of the services she offers at her clinic are invasive or involve any form of surgery. So think botox, nose fillers, brow lifts and so forth. During my consultation, she had a good look at me and advised me on which of the two stitching services she provided suited me best. The one Dr Rachel calls “Korean” (RM3,800) is a single thread that is sewn across the eyelid while the “Japanese” (RM4,800) one involves creating loops of threads. My eyelids are apparently quite fleshy/fatty so she says I have to go with the Japanese procedure if I want a lasting effect. I mean whether you believe that to be the case or not, most people wouldn’t mind forking out an extra RM1000 for a doctor’s guarantee that it will last longer. She also flips your eyelid up and measures how much distance she should put between the lid and the new crease, the greater the distance the more dramatic the effect. They usually range from 6mm to 9mm but based on my make up application which is medium to sparing we opt for the 8mm which is considered moderate. Dr Rachel says some of her clients of the blogger, heavy Asian make up (circle lens and false eyelashes daily) persuasion are more likely to go with the 9mm to suit their style. My appointment was at 4 pm that day and we ended up scheduling the surgery for 7.30 pm on that same day. It seems pretty spontaneous but again I stress, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time now and the consultation was more for me to see if I was comfortable with Dr Rachel doing it or not.

The entire process takes about one and a half hours mainly because the numbing cream takes almost an hour to have an effect. Loved this part because I finally got to take a nap in a dark room, do you know how tired I was and how much I still felt like I was operating on New York time?! Next one of Dr Rachel’s attendants brought me into the main room where local anaesthetic was injected into my eyes, two per eye. The numbing cream kind of helped but it was still painful. I would liken it to when you have to get a tooth removed at the dentist, injecting local into your gum is still really painful even with numbing gel right? After that you can’t really feel anything and that’s when Dr Rachel starts doing her magic. Everyone has asked me what exactly did she do and honestly I have no idea because my eyes were closed. I don’t know how she sewed the thread in so that not a single bit of it is visible on the surface including any knots, I also don’t need to remove any stitches afterwards. Trust me, I did ask her but as she says that’s her trade secret. Apparently she spent close to 14 years learning all twenty different methods and this was one that she created which she thinks she performs best.

All in all it really wasn’t painful because of the local anaesthetic but that doesn’t actually alter the fact that throughout the entire time I was pretty terrified. You can’t feel anything but you are still aware of pressure being put on your eye and the thread that’s being looped in and out. No pain, but still very unpleasant to think that all that is happening just above such a sensitive organ. Now that you’ve read 2000 words of waffle I can reward you with ugly photos of me, this is what I looked like right after getting my eyelids stitched.

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My mom said I look like Garfield! I was put on five days of antibiotics and given alcohol swabs so I could disinfect the eye area every night. Also no eye make up or contact lenses for two weeks. After my first follow up, Dr Rachel said I could put eyeliner but not eyeshadow. I started taking photos everyday, one in the morning and one in the evening because I was really fascinated by the changes everyday. Even when taking the morning to evening photos in a single day, you can already see a difference!

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Please ignore the literal rags that I wear at home. It’s tradition for me to wear the Pikachu pyjamas I got when I was ten years old for the first few nights in Malaysia. A lot of people asked me how long I was planning on going into hiding while I looked like this but two days after getting the stitching done I went to my first Raya open house (pictured wearing the lotus cheongsam)! Nothing can tear me apart from promises of rendang and Johor laksa. In all seriousness, I guess I didn’t think I looked that bad and I also didn’t care if anyone thought I did. My holiday was way too short for me to spend it cooped up indoors all the time so for the first two or three days I just wore glasses or sunglasses when I had to go out.

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It was actually a bit liberating to be able to do make up without having to worry about my eyes, it cut my dolling up time in half honestly. This was what I looked like at our dinner at Nobu and I actually quite like it!

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After the fifth or so day I stopped being as diligent with taking photos. In any case I rarely post selfies on my blog (it’s all on Instagram) so perhaps this is my selfie quota fulfilled for the last three-four years on this blog. This is the full before and after comparison, pre-procedure and how I look now two weeks later. It’s not 100% accurate because I’m wearing circle lenses in the last photo with make up. Sorry I was testing them out for cosplay. More photos below!

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Did an impromptu shoot this morning just before going to Clubs Day so I could end this blog post with how I look right now. Yes that is a photo of me, behind me. And you can see in the first photo that I’m actually just wearing my Pikachu onesie tied up as pants but I didn’t want to crop it out because I like the photo! And I changed into long sleeves halfway because I got cold. I really don’t know how to be cool guys.

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Absolute full recovery is actually from a month to three months. If I’m not happy with it after this point I can go back to Dr Rachel and she can try to address my concerns. She’ll even add an additional stitch if required for free, it’s part of her six month warranty. Am I happy with how I look and do I have any regrets? Yes and no. I still think my eyes aren’t 100% even but I don’t mind as much because they’re both so nice! After so many before photos and after photos I don’t think anyone can deny that double eyelids do make a huge difference. Not only do my eyes look bigger, it also gives the illusion of deeper set eyes so my face has more dimension. Lastly, I’m pretty sure in the long term I will save hundreds of dollars on eyeliner because now I can literally draw one line and it will be visible! All monolids will know the pain of having to draw eyeliner to the width of your eye only for it do disappear under the folds of fat. I’m being facetious about the money saving but yes, I am happy. Looking forward to seeing how they continue to develop, hopefully I won’t need anything further.

That’s my experience getting the stitching done, if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me or leave a question in the comments below!

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samanthawxlow

25 Comments

  1. Hi Sam!

    It was so good reading about your experience! I am from Sydney and am looking to get my eyelids done with Dr Rachel Chew at the end of the year too, so I’m glad to hear that you had a good experience with them. The only bit I’m worried about is the anaesthetic injection!! I’m glad it has changed your life for the better 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting Kim! I’m really glad my write-up was able to help you with your decision. The injection did hurt a bit but honestly after that it’s really all okay.

      Let me know if you have any further questions, am happy to meet up as I’m in Sydney too. Or if you’d like to e-mail me at samantha.wx.low [at] gmail.com that works too.

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  3. Yep, read every word of this. I never noticed that one of your eyes was mono while the other isn’t! A curious oddity, albeit one that is now in the past.

    Now I wonder what that secret formula is for those invisible stitches….#magic

    • It’s definitely something nobody notices but now that I *do* have double lids, the difference is quite apparent. I’d love to know the method as well but I guess a magician never reveals her tricks.

  4. Hi Dear,

    I am doing mine this week and your sharing helps me to worry less! (I have been thinking about undergoing this surgery for 2 years too!)

    Just wondering when did you start wearing contact lenses? Did you have problem washing your face or hair during recovery?

    Hope to hear from you soon! xoxo

    • Hi Xue! I started wearing contact lenses about 2.5 weeks after the procedure. I had my 2nd consultation two weeks after the procedure and the doctor said I was able to wear make up/wear contact lenses then. I suppose two weeks is the general length of time but it really depends on how quickly your eye lids heal. I don’t wear contact lenses on a daily basis so this wasn’t a problem for me.

      As for washing it was a bit complicated because I didn’t want to get any water around the eye area at all. If possible I’d say try and lean back to wash your hair so that none of it gets on your face. With cleansing your face, I washed the bottom half of my face normally and used a damp cotton pad to clean my forehead. Does that make sense?

      By and large it’s not too bad! I think chances of infection are slim anyway but it’s always best to take precautions. Hope this has helped and good luck!

      • Thanks babe! I finally had mine done. I think dr chew has awesome skill. 🙂 although my right eye is more swollen but it’s just merely a week after the procedure, I shall be patient.

  5. Hi, I have just done eyelid stitching too yesterday, and up ’til now I have a discomfortable feeling like something is sticking or scratching my eye whenever I close it, but only on my right eye. Did you have the same problem?

    • I didn’t feel any discomfort in the first few days no. I think around the second week or third there was a very slight irritation but I think that was just the stitching healing up. If it’s really troubling you, you should call your doctor.

  6. Thanks so much for your post! How long did you stay in Malaysia? I am looking to do this procedure and was wondering if staying there for 4 days is enough for recovery and have the follow up appt.

    • Sorry for the late reply! I stayed in Malaysia for 2 weeks because my family lives here. The follow up appointment has to be at least 10 days to 2 weeks post-op. I don’t think you’ll see much improvement in 4 days. But check with Dr Rachel, this is just my opinion.

  7. Hi, im planning to do the surgery with dr rachel. Is that no need stitches remove?

  8. Just trying my luck hoping to get a reply from you.
    Read your blogpost and you gave me the courage to get my eyelids done by Dr Rachel.
    Just wondering if few years later the eyelid sags, can I still use double eyelid tape without having to remove the stitches inside the lid ? Just to know what you think about this. Hope to get ur reply. Thank you very much ! 🙂 p/s i love ur site.

    • Hi there, I wouldn’t know what it would be like a few years later as I only did my eyelid stitching last year. But I would assume you can use double eyelid tape whenever you like, regardless of the stitching.

      If you have any questions, I suggest you reach out to Dr Rachel. Have a great day!

  9. Most of the people truly believe that numbing gels are going to make them feel nothing. This is absolutely wrong. the numbing gel has a little numb effect and that`s it. I have double eyelid surgery in Singapore last year and the procedure was the same. However, I was prepared for a little pain.

  10. Oh, my Gosh your eyes look gorgeous. I will have blepharoplasty in Singapore next week and I was looking for more information when I have found your blog. Keep posting! It is really useful. Greetings!

  11. Hi
    I’ve just come across this, I have also had my eyes done at Dr Rachel Chews clinic 2 months ago. Since your post was from July 2015, I was wondering how your eyes are looking now? Do they still look the same or looser? Any difference?
    Thanks

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