By Claudie Benjamin
Explaining her ongoing passion for her surgical subspecialty, Oculoplastic Surgery, Debra Kroll, MD, a Board-Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ASOPRS,) says each patient brings an entirely different challenge. The key questions involve determining what is expected, what’s possible and what may be best for the patient from a clinical viewpoint. Eye contact is the main way people interface with the world. Making people more comfortable with their eyes and eye contact is a happy field and such an interesting one. I’m never bored,” she says.
Dr. Kroll‘s areas of expertise span medical and elective aesthetic goals. These include eyelid and facial rejuvenation utilizing minimally invasive techniques, blepharoplasty (surgical and non-surgical eye lifts), ptosis (drooping of the eyelids) and other eyelid malpositions, eyelid growths, and lacrimal (tearing) and orbital diseases.
Mostly, Dr. Kroll‘s patients for elective procedures are referred to her by other patients who are happy with their results. Other patients have “done their research” online. “They read your reviews and come informed. Some know exactly what they want done. Others ask what I suggest. Those referred for medical treatments are normally referred by other physicians.”
The majority of Dr. Kroll‘s patients are in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. One of the most frequent requests is for blepharoplasty surgery related to a patient’s wish to look younger and fresher. Perhaps they received questions from friends and acquaintances “Are you tired? Are you feeling OK?” Dr. Kroll says her objective is not to give her patients a whole new look, but rather provide them with the appearance of being better rested “I aim to have my patients look like they’ve just returned from vacation.” Her overall goal is to help patients feel better about themselves.
There are a surprisingly wide variety of non-invasive surgical options that address making people look and feel better. Among these are injections of Dysport (which Dr. Kroll prefers to Botox) because “it can last longer,” and other procedures to reduce bags and wrinkles under the eyes. Dr. Kroll also performs corrections/revisions of undesired dermal filler procedures performed elsewhere.
The initial meeting with a patient is extremely important to Dr. Kroll in establishing communication and gaining a patient’s trust. She offers a second consult to ask any remaining questions and to confirm her exam findings and plan. Dr. Kroll cares about establishing an understanding with her patient about what’s really achievable. She also is committed to preparing the patient regarding how they will feel post-op and what measures they can follow to smooth and speed recovery. She has incorporated various tricks and tips to speed the healing of bruising and swelling after surgery. These techniques include giving her patients physician strength herbal medicine, and recovery goggles after surgery, which provide gentle pressure on the eyelids to reduce swelling and bruising from accumulating in the first place.
Dr. Kroll utilizes refinements in surgical techniques that she feels will produce optimal results. Strategizing what will work best is exhilarating for this highly skilled surgeon solving the problem of how to repair an area where a cancer has been removed. She is seeking to not only restore the function of the eyelid to protect the surface of the eye, but she aims for the most aesthetically pleasing results. “I have a boutique high quality eyelid surgery practice. I like to spend time speaking to each patient, giving them my full attention and effort.”
Uncompromisingly aiming for outstanding results is part of Dr. Kroll‘s character and her experience of success not only in medicine, but as an athlete. She was a 1992 National Champion in Barefoot Waterskiing (Open Women Slalom) and a United States Team Member.
She feels very lucky that having her own practice allows her to be very involved in her two sons (ages 11 and 13) school and afternoon activities. She supervises homework and takes them to appointments when needed. “I can be at the boys’ baseball games,” she says, “I think that they are proud of me.” Family pride and inspiration is not only cherished as an ideal but has been key in determining Dr. Kroll‘s career. Her father, Arnold J. Kroll, MD, is a retired Retinal specialist who was in private practice and operated/taught fellows at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and taught residents at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA. “When I was eight, he took me to the operating room at the hospital. The nurses gave me a sterile gown to wear and explained I should touch nothing. I got to observe my dad performing retina surgery. Also, I had the opportunity to round on his post-op patients that were inpatients (before day surgery became popular). It made an impression. I was quite fortunate to have this opportunity and support.” Years later, as an Ophthalmology resident, she “fell in love with plastics” and pursued an Oculoplastic Surgery fellowship. Dr. Kroll practiced for two years in Boston teaching residents and working at various private practices, including her dad’s office. Even though she did not ultimately choose Retina, they still had their names on the glass door together before she moved to Manhattan in 2006. In addition to her private practice, Dr. Kroll has been on the teaching staff at New York Eye and Ear of Mount Sinai. She also co-founded and co-hosts the New York Oculoplastic and Orbital Society (NYOOS) which meets twice a year in person or virtually for over 50 Tri state area physicians. Difficult cases are discussed. It is important to her to strengthen community bonds to give patients the best care.
Dr. Kroll lives on the Upper West Side and has offices at 40 West 72nd Street on the West Side and at 178 East 71st Street on the East Side. Great attention is given to cleanliness and safety with strict COVID-19 protocols. Upper eyelid procedures are usually performed in the office under local anesthetic. Aesthetic surgery requiring sedation is performed at a surgical center where only one patient is there at one time. Medical procedures can be performed in the office or hospital. Dr. Kroll says, “I love my job…I’m so lucky. I can help my patients feel and look better every day and it is fun, interesting and challenging. I can also pass along teaching points to those in medical training. I even put hashtags on my Instagram feed #Ilovemyjob.”
Debra M. Kroll, M.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology/ Oculoplastic Surgery
New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai
New York, NY
Upper East Side (Private Practice)
178 East 71st Street
New York, NY 10021
Upper West Side (Private Practice)
40 West 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023