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What to Expect from a Lipiflow Procedure

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If you suffer from dry eye, you know just how uncomfortable it can be. Even though it’s one of the most common eye conditions, and there are many treatment options available, sometimes it’s hard to find the right treatment for you.

LipiFlow is an FDA-approved treatment used in dry eye therapy that may be the right long-term solution for you. But what exactly is LipiFlow? How do you know if you’re a good candidate? How does it work? 

To help answer some of these questions, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about what to expect from a LipiFlow procedure. 

What does LipiFlow Treat?

LipiFlow is used to treat Evaporative Dry Eye (EDE). Dry eye is a common eye condition that occurs when your tears don’t properly lubricate your eyes. 

Dry eye occurs when one or both eyes are not producing enough tears, or the tears produced are low quality. Improper tear production can cause inflammation and damage, which may lead to further vision issues if left untreated. 

What is Evaporative Dry Eye? 

There are several different types of dry eye. The most common are Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye (ADDE) and EDE. Unlike ADDE, where dry eye is caused by the eye not having enough water, EDE is caused by the evaporation of your tears

This happens when your meibomian glands are dysfunctional and become clogged, stopping the oil portion of your tears from secreting sufficiently. If you don’t have enough oil in your tears, they will evaporate and can dry out your eye very quickly.

EDE is the most common type of dry eye that optometrists diagnose and the only type of dry eye that can be treated by Lipiflow. 

How does Lipiflow treat Dry Eye?

Unlike other dry eye treatments, such as artificial tears, that focus on adding to the tears, Lipiflow is used to treat EDE by addressing the buildup of oils that are blocking the meibomian glands. The point of LipiFlow is to help the Meibomian glands return to their normal level of function.

What is the LipiFlow Process?

LipiFlow uses eyepieces, or activators, that is placed over the upper and lower eyelids. These single-use sterile devices deliver gentle warmth and pressure which helps to break down any blockages. Once treatment is completed, the eye should start to properly produce natural oils again. Once lipids are being produced regularly, and normal gland function recovers, the symptoms of dry eye may fade away. 

What to Expect during a Lipiflow Treatment

So, you may be wondering what a typical LipiFlow treatment session looks like. The steps of an average session are as follows: 

  • First, your doctor will prepare you for the procedure by placing a mild anesthetic in your eye
  • Before beginning, your doctor will clean the eyelids to get rid of any easy-to-remove debris 
  • Your doctor will then place the LipiFlow activators onto your eyelids. When the treatment starts, you will begin to feel warmth and gentle pressure on your eyelids
  • The treatment runs through two 6-minute cycles: The warming phase, followed by varied pulsations, and then constant pressure. Running through this cycle twice ensures the proper removal of blockages from the glands.

After you receive your treatment, you should see results in 4-6 weeks. Your doctor may request you book a follow-up appointment to evaluate your progress after the treatment is completed.

A woman slightly bent over holding her sore dry eyes needing treatment like LipiFlow to provide relief

Are You a Candidate for LipiFlow? 

To receive the LipiFlow treatment you must meet the following criteria:

How to Prepare for a LipiFlow Treatment 

Before coming to your scheduled LipiFlow treatment session you should: 

  • Remove your contact lenses
  • Not use any type of eye drops 24 hours before your visit
  • Remove all makeup 
  • Not use any eyelid creams or ointments 24 hours before your visit
  • Not swim in a chlorinated pool at least 12 hours before your visit

Frequently Asked Questions

Does LipiFlow cure dry eye? 

No, LipiFlow cannot cure dry eye, but results can last about one year. With repeated treatments, LipiFlow can offer patients extended relief.

Does LipiFlow hurt? 

On average, patients report little to no pain during treatment. A clinical study found that the average pain score was 2/10. 

What will happen if I Ignore my Dry Eye problem?

If you ignore your EDE problem, your symptoms are likely to worsen. These symptoms can get in the way of your daily life and include:

  • Discomfort 
  • Permanent loss of gland function
  • Cell damage
  • Loss of vision

Has there been a clinical trial of Lipiflow?

Yes! The study reported that 79% of patients who had the LipiFlow treatment reported improvement of their dry eye symptoms within four weeks.

Where can I get LipiFlow?

At La Paz Optometric Centre, we specialize in dry eye therapy and offer LipiFlow treatment. Book an appointment today to discuss any questions or concerns you may have and to find out if you would be a good candidate for the procedure. 

Written by Dr. Aaron Sako

Dr. Sako, who was born in Santa Monica and raised in Cerritos, first joined the La Paz Optometric family in 2001. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences in 1995 from the University of California Irvine, before earning his Doctor of Optometry, graduating with honors in 2000 from Nova Southeastern University in South Florida.

Dr. Sako’s current areas of focus are primary care, surgical consultations, surgical co-management, and specialty contact lenses. He is also glaucoma certified and is licensed in the use of therapeutic and diagnostic pharmaceutical agents. Dr. Sako has extensive clinical experience and training, and spent time at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida and the Aker Kasten Cataract and Laser Eye Institute in Boca Raton, Florida, before joining the La Paz Optometric team.

Dr. Sako is an affiliate member of a prominent Orange County laser center, allowing his patients to benefit from his unique understanding of LASIK, which he, himself, has undergone. He has also co-managed thousands of refractive procedures. A proponent of lifelong learning, Dr. Sako is also certified in Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT), which is a non-surgical option for correcting nearsightedness, which involves patients wearing specialty contact lenses during sleep.

Dr. Sako is a member of the American Optometric Association, the California Optometric Association, the Orange County Optometric Association, the Orange County Optometrist Club, and the Asian American Optometric Society. He is currently a member of the executive board for the Asian American Optometric Society and has been since 2004. He is also a member of the prestigious Advisory Board to Vision Laser Eye Centers in Newport Beach, California.

Dr. Sako believes in the importance of community service and always striving for excellence. This former Eagle Scout is currently an active member of the Mission Viejo Rotary Club and provides charitable annual eye exams and care through this organization to children in Baja, Mexico.

Dr. Sako lives in Ladera Ranch with his wife, Mako, and their three children Skylar, Payton, and Colby. When he is not helping patients, Dr. Sako enjoys exercising, skiing, playing golf, and spending time with friends and family. He also has a keen interest in music, and enjoys playing the Tahitian drums and strumming on his ukulele.

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