SMILE Near Birmingham, AL

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What is SMILE?

SMILE stands for small incision lenticule extraction. It is a highly specialized procedure that uses cutting-edge Zeiss VisuMax® femtosecond laser technology to correct vision impairments, like nearsightedness (myopia) and astigmatism. It is also known as ReLEx or FLEx, and given its unique, technical nature, it is only performed by a handful of specialists in the Southeast region. Dr. Young H. Choi is the only board-certified ophthalmologist to offer SMILE in the state of Alabama.

It is similar to LASIK surgery but is less invasive as it does not require a flap to be made in the cornea to reshape the eye. With SMILE, only a small incision is needed, which also reduces the common risks that are associated with laser vision correction. So if you're ready to have clearer vision without the need for glasses or contacts and are in the Birmingham, AL area, contact our Vestavia Hills, AL practice today to learn more and schedule a consultation with Dr. Choi.

How Does the ZEISS VisuMax laser work?

The Zeiss VisuMax femtosecond laser is a groundbreaking technology designed to improve the patient experience during SMILE procedures. The Zeiss VisuMax platform is the only FDA-approved light-based technology for SMILE. It offers optimal precision, reduces potential complications, speeds up recovery, and allows for shorter treatment time compared to LASIK. SMILE strategically reshapes the cornea to dramatically improve refractive errors and eliminate the dependence on traditional eyeglasses or contacts.

With an extremely comfortable docking process, high-precision lasers, and an interface designed to streamline the operation, it ensures a procedure that is both gentle and efficient.

What are the benefits of SMILE?

Corneal issues can be debilitating and prevent your from having the eyesight you deserve near Birmingham, AL. A SMILE laser vision correction procedure performed by Dr. Choi can dramatically improve your vision with great benefits that include:

  • Treating astigmatism and nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Improving overall vision
  • Reducing the need for glasses and contacts
  • Provides a LASIK alternative
  • Less invasive than other procedures
  • Side effects are fewer
  • Fast, safe, and effective
  • Recovery is quick

am i a candidate for SMILE?

Ideal candidates for SMILE include women and men who have astigmatism or myopia who want to reduce their reliance on glasses and contacts. Candidates should also be at least 22 years old and have a stable vision prescription that hasn't changed in the past year. People who have unstable vision, certain eye conditions, or severe astigmatism may not be a candidate for SMILE. During your consultation with Dr. Choi, he will examine your eyes and medical history to determine if SMILE is right for you.

How is SMILE performed?

SMILE is an outpatient procedure that takes about 10 – 15 minutes to perform. Before he begins, Dr. Choi will numb the eyes with anesthetic drops to keep you comfortable. A special ocular holder along with a suction ring will be used to keep the eye stable and to prevent blinking. The VisuMax laser will then create a small circular disc (corneal lenticule) within the cornea. The tissue is then removed via a small keyhole incision. Unlike LASIK, SMILE is a flapless surgery.

how long is recovery after smile?

Although SMILE is considered an outpatient procedure, you should arrange for someone to drive you home as your vision will be blurry for the first 24 hours after surgery. Patients should plan to take the remainder of the day off to recover. Once you get home, Dr. Choi recommends that you take a long nap to allow your eyes to rest. Most patients are able to resume activities, like swimming and contact sports, after one week of recovery. During the initial recovery period, it's normal to experience inflammation and halos or glares. Dr. Choi will usually schedule several follow-up visits to keep track of your progress.


Does SMILE surgery hurt?

No, it doesn't. Before he begins, Dr. Choi will completely numb your eyes with anesthetic drops to keep you comfortable. Most patients feel nothing at all, but some report a slight feeling of pressure.

Is SMILE surgery safe?

Yes, SMILE surgery was approved by the FDA in 2016 and is considered very safe and effective for the majority of patients.

How much does SMILE cost?

When you first visit our office, our billing team can estimate your overall costs and review all of your payment options. We accept most major credit cards and CareCredit®. We can also build a payment plan that offers some flexibility to help make your treatment more affordable.

Is SMILE covered by insurance?

Since SMILE is often considered an elective procedure, many insurance providers do not cover it. Our team can work with your insurance provider to help you determine the extent of your coverage.

Is SMILE better than LASIK?

Generally, there is a higher risk of scarring with LASIK than with SMILE. Unlike SMILE, LASIK cannot be performed on those with thin corneas. Therefore, SMILE is usually the preferred form of treatment for patients.

Can SMILE be performed on patients with astigmatism?

Yes. SMILE has been FDA approved for use on patients with astigmatism of up to -3.00 diopters. If your astigmatism is outside of this range, our team may recommend other options to help with your eyesight. If you have astigmatism, schedule a consultation today to learn what we can do for you.

get clearer vision today

With one simple procedure that can take less than 15 minutes per eye, you can get the clearer vision you want without the hassle of glasses and contacts. SMILE offers a safe, gentle, and effective vision solution that is less invasive than LASIK. Contact Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center in Vestavia Hills, AL today to schedule your SMILE procedure with Dr. Choi. Let us help improve your vision and quality of life with a SMILE procedure or one of our many cutting-edge treatments.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.