How to Care for Your Eyes After Cosmetic Eyelid Surgery

A blepharoplasty is eyelid surgery. It can be performed on the upper eyelids to treat sagging skin that's unsightly or impairs vision, on the lower ones to remove bags and smooth out fine wrinkles—or both. It's usually done in an outpatient facility.

Either way, it's a pretty straightforward procedure: For upper eyelids, an incision is made in the folds of the eyelid, excess skin, muscle, and fat are removed, and the incision is then stitched up. For the lower eyelid, an incision is made below the eye’s natural crease, under the lower lashes, or just inside the lower lid. Again, excess fat is removed—and sometimes redistributed—along with any sagging skin, and then the incision is closed. The procedure should take less than two hours.

Tips for healing after eye surgery
 Verywell / Julie Bang

What to Expect After Eyelid Surgery

After a blepharoplasty, you'll need to have a way to get home: It's likely your surgeon will tell you not to drive for at last 24 hours after your procedure, so have a friend or family member lined up to bring you home or plan to use a car service.

You also should plan to take some time off from work—recovery is expected to take 10-14 days. If your job requires you to be physically active, you may want to take a bit more time.

Your doctor also may advise you to use cold compresses on your eyes the day of your blepharoplasty as well as the day after to help reduce swelling. In addition, he or she may instruct you to do any or all of the following:

  • Use prescription eye drops or ointments as directed.
  • Be very gentle when cleaning the area around your eyelids.
  • If you wear contacts, use your glasses instead.
  • Wear dark-tinted sunglasses and/or sunscreen when outside to protect your eyes from sun and the wind.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Don't lift anything heavy or take part in strenuous activities or exercise heavily for at least two weeks.
  • Don't swim.
  • Don't rub your eyes.
  • Sleep on several pillows so that your head is elevated above your torso.
  • Don't take blood-thinning medications.

Side Effects

As with any operation, blepharoplasty has side effects. Most are minor and temporary but certainly call your doctor if you experience anything that feels abnormal or unexpected.

The most obvious side effects after eyelid surgery are bruising and swelling, but these are minimal when done by a skilled surgeon.

Other typical post-blepharoplasty side effects may include:

  • Blurred vision (caused by the ointment you'll likely need to apply to your eyes after the procedure)
  • Watery eyes or sticky, dry eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Puffiness
  • Pain

Double vision after lower eyelid surgery may mean there has been injury to the inferior oblique muscle of the eyeball and needs attention.

About a week after surgery, your stitches can be removed. A few months later, your surgeon will have you come in for one last time to evaluate the results of your blepharoplasty. It will take about that long for your incisions to heal, and then you can enjoy looking better and seeing better.

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Article Sources
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  1. American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. Eyelid surgery guide. Updated 2019. 

  2. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Eyelid surgery. Updated 2019. 

  3. University of Michigan Health System. Plastic surgery. Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) post-operative instructions.

  4. Blepharoplasty. Updated March 28, 2018. 

  5. UNC Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery)

  6. Oestreicher J, Mehta S. Complications of blepharoplasty: Prevention and management. Plastic Surgery International. 2012;2012:1-10. doi:10.1155/2012/252368