LASIK and Flap Complications: Understanding the Risk

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The team at Maple Eye and Laser Center has helped countless patients see clearly thanks to LASIK surgery and other laser vision correction procedures. The practice is one of the leading eye care centers in the White Plains region due to this strong commitment to patient care.

Part of proper patient care is discussing risks and benefits of surgery. With that in mind, we'd like to go over the risk of flap complications and what those mean for patients.

The Flap: What Happens During LASIK Surgery

To understand flap complications, it's important to consider how LASIK is performed and what the process entails.

During LASIK, a flap is created in the topmost layer of the cornea, which is known as the epithelium. When this flap is lifted, a laser is used to reshape the cornea so that light passes through it properly and focuses on the retinas. After the reshaping is completed, the flap is set back down.

Flap Complications Defined

Given the description above, a flap complication describes a variety of issues that are related to the creation of the epithelial flap or issues with healing related to the epithelial flap. There can take a variety of forms.

Types of Flap Complications

There are many types of flap complications and reasons why they may occur. Some examples are as follows:
  • Issues Making the Epithelial Flap - This refers to issues that arise during surgery as the LASIK flap is being created.
  • Wrinkles on the Epithelial Flap - When the epithelial flap is set down improperly or is shifted by eye contact after suregry, it can lead to wrinkles or folds.
  • Epithelial Ingrowth - The cells of the outer part of the epithelium are different than those of the inner part of the epithelium. Ingrowth happens when the outer cells grow inside of the epithelium due to improper placement of the flap.
  • Diffuse Lamellar Keratitis (DLK) – This is a type of inflammation that occurs just under the corneal flap and has been nicknamed "sands of the Sahara" by some eye care specialist, giving you an idea of the discomfort and how serious it is.
  • Irregular Astigmatism - The result of wrinkles on the corneal flap and other kinds of issues while healing, irregular astigmatism can lead to double vision and trails.
  • Keratectasia (Keratoconus) - This condition refers to the outward bulging of the cornea, creating an oblong shape rather than a round one.

How Common Are Flap Complications?

Flap complications are thankfully quite rare, though it's important that patients understand that they are a possibility so they have a realistic view about the risks and benefits of surgery.

How Flap Complications Can Be Prevented

The best way to prevent a flap complication from occurring is twofold. On the side of the LASIK surgeon, it means proper pre-planning of the procedure and great care taken during the surgery itself. For patients, it means following all pre-op and post-op instructions to the letter to ensure that they are in an ideal condition to recover.

How Flap Complications Can Be Treated

Flap complications can be corrected through a secondary LASIK procedure and/or the use of medications. The ideal option to address a flap error can be discussed during a follow-up visit with your LASIK surgeon.

Speak with the Team at Maple Eye and Laser Center

For more information about LASIK and how you can have excellent eyesight, we encourage you to contact our laser eye care and vision correction center today. The team at Maple Eye and Laser Center will work with you and help you see clearly again.