Added Insight

Eyes and face are at the heart of new specialist’s expertise.

As the son of a cardiologist, Robert J. Applebaum, MD, became interested in medicine at a very young age. His father also had an influence on the specialty Dr. Applebaum would pursue after medical school at the University of Florida.

Dr. Robert Applebaum has joined the staff at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute, which has locations in Brandon, Riverview, Ruskin and Sun City. He and Dr. Craig Munger discuss the services offered by the oculoplastic surgeons at the Institute.

Robert J. Applebaum, MD, MBA & Craig E. Munger, MD, PhD

“My father had a good friend who was an ophthalmologist,” the Tampa native recalls. “I spoke with him and got a feel for ophthalmology and what I could expect from it. I found ophthalmology intriguing. I was definitely interested in doing something surgical, and I wanted to be very specialized.”

With that in mind, Dr. Applebaum entered the ophthalmology residency program at the University of South Florida. Following his residency, Dr. Applebaum jumped at the chance to further specialize his skills with a fellowship in oculoplastic surgery, a specialty that concentrates on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the face and eye area. He completed the fellowship at the J. Justin Older Eyelid Institute.

“When the opportunity to specialize in oculoplastics became available, I decided it was worth taking the extra time to complete it,” Dr. Applebaum states. “That ended up being a good decision for me.”

It was an excellent decision because Dr. Applebaum is now using his skills in ophthalmology and oculoplastic surgery at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute, which has locations in Brandon, Riverview, Ruskin and Sun City. Along with his colleague Craig E. Munger, MD, PhD, Dr. Applebaum performs a host of cosmetic and functional procedures on the eyes and face.

Dr. Munger is a board-certified ophthalmologist on staff at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute. He is fellowship trained in oculoplastic, orbital and neuro-ophthalmic surgery. He and Dr. Applebaum treat patients with a wide variety of conditions, which Dr. Applebaum appreciates.

“I really enjoy ophthalmology and oculoplastics, so I feel fortunate to join the staff at Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute, where I get to do what I enjoy,” Dr. Applebaum shares. “I’m able to practice a broad range of general ophthalmology, while also focusing more specifically on the eyelids and on facial cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

“At Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute, I have an oculoplastic-focused practice but still see general ophthalmology patients in the clinic throughout the course of the day. I also spend time at the Veterans Administration and treat many general ophthalmology patients there.”

Lasting Impressions

The eyes are one of the first things people notice when meeting someone, and the look of a person’s eyes often says a lot about that person.

“When we first meet someone and initially make eye contact with them, we immediately begin to form our first impression of that person,”
Dr. Munger asserts. “We judge that person to be tired, sad, angry or pleasant based on the appearance of the area around his or her eyes.”

Puffy or drooping eyelids can make people look old, tired or even mean. When their patients have sagging eyelids, Dr. Munger and Dr. Applebaum often recommend a safe, effective and cosmetically appealing procedure called blepharoplasty, also known as eyelid surgery.

Blepharoplasty is a surgical procedure that involves removing excess eyelid tissue. It can be done on both the upper and lower eyelids and can make a dramatic difference in the appearance of the face.

“With upper blepharoplasty, excess skin is removed from the upper eyelids, which can drop due to muscle weakness,” Dr. Applebaum describes. “The repairs we perform help functionally because the excess tissue can get in the way of vision and endanger the patient. It can also cause headaches and other problems.

“I also perform blepharoplasties for cosmetic purposes, when people are unhappy with the appearance of their lids. These surgeries can significantly improve the look of their eyes.”

The lower lids can project a poor first impression as well.

“Most of us are born with five bags of fat around the eye to protect it and hold it in the socket,” Dr. Munger notes. “However, with aging, that fat can come forward and manifest itself as puffiness under the eye. Lower blepharoplasty can diminish the look of tiredness and aging by decreasing excess fat and skin beneath the eyes.”

Eyelid Exposure

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can lead to skin cancer, including cancer of the face and eyelids. The eyelid skin is especially sensitive to the sun’s rays because it’s very thin. The rays don’t have to penetrate very deep to reach the lower levels of the skin’s structures, where many cancers begin.

An effective cancer treatment technique called Mohs surgery, which removes cancerous tissue a layer at a time, is generally effective at removing skin cancer. However, it can leave large, open wounds on the surface of the skin. When these wounds are near the delicate eyelid area, oculoplastic surgeons must perform reconstructive surgery.

“We perform reconstructions after we remove skin cancer ourselves, as well as when patients are referred to us by our dermatologic colleagues,” Dr. Applebaum discloses. “In those cases, the dermatologists remove the skin cancer, but we perform the reconstructions because the operative areas are so close to the eyes.”

“As far as eyelid reconstruction, there are three factors that are very important,” Dr. Munger adds. “The first, of course, is to ensure complete removal of the eyelid skin cancer. Second, our reconstructive goal is to maintain the function of the eyelid so it can properly open and close. And third is to make the reconstruction as aesthetically pleasing as possible.”

Dr. Applebaum and Dr. Munger perform many other surgical procedures at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute as well. These include endoscopic eyebrow and forehead lifts, tear duct surgery, earlobe reconstructions and correction of eyelid malposition.

Fitting Fillers

In addition to the various surgical procedures, Dr. Applebaum and Dr. Munger also offer a variety of nonsurgical facial cosmetic services. These include BOTOX® Cosmetic injections and a variety of facial fillers. These options can help reverse the changes associated with aging.

Dr. Robert Applebaum has joined the staff at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute, which has locations in Brandon, Riverview, Ruskin and Sun City. He and Dr. Craig Munger discuss the services offered by the oculoplastic surgeons at the Institute.

Dr. Munger in the surgical suite performing
eyelid procedures.

“BOTOX Cosmetic is a synthetic toxin that is altered so that it’s non-toxic to the body of a healthy person,” Dr. Applebaum informs. “It blocks the release of neurotransmitters that trigger muscle contractions.”

Among the fillers used by the doctors are JUVÈDERM®, VOLUMA® and RESTYLANE®. Many fillers contain hyaluronic acid, a substance found naturally in the body that helps restore volume and hydration to the skin.

“Over time, materials in the skin, including the collagen and base membranes, break down, so the face begins to sag,” Dr. Applebaum describes. “We use these fillers in the cheeks to add volume and give the face a nonsurgical lift.

“We also use the fillers in areas slightly lower on the face to decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the nose and lips. Oftentimes, we use them in the lips to give the lips more fullness.”

“Using a product like JUVÈDERM, people not only get the benefit of a more youthful appearance, but the results are also very natural looking,” Dr. Munger assures. “Patients don’t look like they’ve had anything done.”

KYBELLA® is another filler that’s used specifically to decrease the appearance of a double chin. It is injected into the fatty tissue of the chin, where it breaks down the fat cells, reducing the appearance of fat under the chin.

In addition, Dr. Applebaum and Dr. Munger often use intense pulsed light, or IPL, therapy for patients needing specialized care. IPL is useful for treating a variety of conditions, including hyperpigmentation of the skin.

People with any face or eye condition can rely on Dr. Applebaum and Dr. Munger for their care. They can also rest assured, knowing these physicians are supported by the skilled staff at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute.

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