Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, is a procedure that removes fat, excess skin, and muscle from the upper and lower eyelids. This surgery can help correct drooping eyelids and puffy bags, restoring a more youthful and rejuvenated appearance to the eyes.
What to expect after surgery
In most cases, eyelid surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. Once the anesthesia wears off, you will be able to return home, although you will need someone to drive you because your eyesight will be blurry, and the eyes may need to be covered.
Following your eyelid surgery, the eyelids will be supported with paper tape to ensure that the tissue heals with the correct contours. Gauze may also be worn over the eyes for up to three days following blepharoplasty. It is essential to leave these post-surgery coverings in place, as directed by your doctor, to ensure a fast eyelid surgery recovery and optimum results. If you have had transconjunctival blepharoplasty, in which the tissues are accessed through an incision behind the lower eyelid, your eyes may not need to be covered following surgery. Typically, the sutures used during the eyelid surgery procedure are dissolvable, so you will not need to have them taken out by your doctor.
Although every surgical procedure comes with the possibility of scars, visible scars following eyelid surgery are minimized due to the placement of incisions. Because incisions are placed in natural skin folds, or sometimes behind the eyelid, they should not result in obvious scarring. Over time, any scars you see will fade into the surrounding skin.
During the eyelid surgery recovery period, use eye drops or ointments as directed by your surgeon. It’s also important to avoid disturbing the eyelid tissues as they heal; this requires keeping the head elevated while sleeping. Any discomfort you feel can be managed with pain medication and cold compresses.
After eyelid surgery, you can expect your eyes to be watery, dry, or overly sensitive to light. Temporary vision effects can include double vision or blurriness. Additional side effects experienced during your eyelid surgery recovery include tenderness and bruising, which could extend to the eyes or cheeks, resulting in the appearance of “black eyes.” Additionally, some degree of puffiness or swelling is normal. These side effects should subside within about a week of your eyelid surgery, although residual swelling may continue for several months as the tissues adjust to their new positioning.
Tips to reduce swelling after surgery
Following eyelid surgery, swelling can obscure the results of your procedure, as well as interfere with vision. Those trying to reduce their recovery time should follow these tips to reduce swelling:
- Keep the head elevated while sleeping.
- Use ice or cold compresses, particularly during the first 48 hours.
- Avoid excessive blinking.
- Do not wear contacts for at least 72 hours.
- Avoid alcohol consumption.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Eat a proper diet that is low in sodium.
- Get plenty of rest and avoid over-exertion.
Eyelid surgery healing time
After eyelid surgery, most patients take one to two weeks away from work and other obligations. Some patients find that they are able to return sooner with the use of camouflage makeup to disguise residual swelling or bruising. Glasses may be worn immediately, and contact lenses in 1-2 weeks. Eye makeup should be avoided for the first week, along with any other potential eye irritants.
To minimize the eyelid surgery recovery time, avoid activities that dry the eyes, such as reading, watching television, or using a computer, for as long as possible. The same goes for activities that could increase blood flow to the eyes, including bending, lifting, and crying. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for about a month, and sun exposure must be avoided for at least six months. Sunglasses should be worn during this time to protect the eyes from irritation caused by sun and wind. Most patients find that the final result of their eyelid surgery is visible after about two months.