Enucleation is a very safe surgery, done routinely around the world for many different reasons.
After surgery, the eye socket may remain fully or partly closed as it recovers. This is normal, and may last up to four weeks.
Common and less common side effects of enucleation include:
Ptosis (a droopy eyelid)
Reduced growth of socket
Superior sulcus deformity (a sunken appearance)
Scarring of the socket
Exposure, extrusion and loss of the orbital implant
Due to the bony structures surrounding the eye, there is often significant bruising around the socket for several days. However, this looks much worse than it feels, and does not usually cause much discomfort. Wear glasses, may increase discomfort at pressure points around the nose for a few days.
Bruising may become more pronounced before it begins to heal, but this is also normal. Some children bruise more than others, and this is not a reflection on success of surgery
Some children experience headaches for up to several days following surgery. These are usually relieved with regular painkillers.
A droopy eyelid can develop over time. This can be repaired with a simple procedure under anaesthesia.
Reduced Growth of Eye Socket
This is common in young children, especially if tumours were treated with radiotherapy before enucleation. A healthy remaining eye will stimulate the natural growth of facial bones around the socket. Regular “build up” and replacement of the artificial eye also aids bone growth.
Superior Sulcus Deformity
A sunken appearance can occur when the volume of the orbit is reduced by removal of the eye. This is particularly common when an implant is not inserted during enucleation surgery. Surgery can be done to correct this in most children.
Scarring of the Socket
This can result in an inability of the socket to hold an artificial eye. Again, this usually results from lack of an implant, and can be surgically corrected.
Exposure, Extrusion and Loss of the Orbital Implant
A small exposure of the anterior (frontal) surface of the implant usually results in the covering tissues becoming torn or infected. This happens when the socket is infected of excessively scarred, or when the rough surface of certain implants breaks through the tissues. Once infection has been eradicated, the implant can be surgically replaced.