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Recovery After Eyelid Surgery – Blepharoplasty Post-Op Timeline

If you are considering eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), it is important that you completely understand the process of recovery as well as aftercare instructions.

While the recovery after eyelid surgery may vary, knowing the proper postoperative tips and general recovery timeline will help you know what steps to take to have a successful recovery.

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Why have eyelid surgery?

A blepharoplasty may be the surgery for you if you have any of the following;

  • Creases, wrinkles, and fine lines around your eyes
  • Eyelid ptosis (eyelid descent) that affects your ability to open your eyes
  • Excess skin on the upper or lower eyelids which impedes your vision

Why following postoperative instructions is important

Adhering strictly to the postoperative instructions is vital to prevent complications like:

  • Bleeding from incision sites
  • Difficulty closing your eyes
  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Infection
  • Injury to the muscles of your eye
  • Noticeable scarring
  • Poor results
  • Skin discolouration around the eye
  • Vision problems

Blepharoplasty recovery timeline

First 24 Hours

Once your surgery is done and the anaesthesia wears off, you will be able to go home. Your vision will be blurry during this time. To protect your eyes, gauze may be put over the area. As a result, you will need to have someone assist you for a few days.

As with most surgeries involving the face, you should avoid any excessive physical activity. Rest as much as possible. Your eyelids may feel tight during the first 24 hours as a result of swelling. To reduce swelling, you should use two firm pillows to elevate your head higher than your chest. Furthermore, you should avoid sleeping on your side to prevent your eyelids from coming into contact with the surface of your bed.

First Week

During the first week, you will notice some puffiness and/or swelling around the operation site. However, this is completely normal and is an important part of the wound-healing process. You will also experience blurry vision due to swelling.

After 7-10 days, this should subside, and you can expect to feel a significant reduction in discomfort. You may also notice that your eyelids appear pink and feel numb for a few days. In addition to this, there may be some tenderness around your eyes, and you may feel sensitive to light. As a result of your light sensitivity, you will most likely want and need to wear dark sunglasses when venturing outside.

To reduce discomfort, you will receive a prescription for medication. We also suggest applying ice compresses to your eyelid area.

First Month

After 4 to 6 weeks, you will start to see the results of your eyelid surgery. During this time, you may still have some mild residual swelling around the operation site. This is because the delicate tissues and muscles in your eyelids are continuing to adjust to the effects of your surgery. Once the swelling has completely subsided, your eyelids will appear refreshed, and well-proportioned.

To help your recovery, avoid excessive screen time and rest your eyes as much as possible. You should also refrain from bending, lifting, and other activities that require straining. This is because it can increase the pressure in your eyes which also increases the blood flow to the area. You will still need to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes when going outside.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to recover from blepharoplasty eyelid surgery?

  • Whilst recovery from blepharoplasty may vary from patient to patient, in general, you need at least 2 weeks to recover from the procedure.

What are some tips to optimise recovery from a blepharoplasty?

  • Avoid the following:
    • Alcoholic beverages.
    • Prolonged sun exposure
    • Strenuous activities
    • Stressing or straining your eyes
  • Do not smoke and avoid alcohol during your recovery.
  • Eat healthy foods high in vitamins and proteins (e.g. lean meats and leafy greens).
  • Follow all postoperative instructions.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and ensure you get enough time to rest.
  • Wear dark sunglasses and a hat to help with light sensitivity and minimise the amount of sun exposure on your incision sites while they heal.

How long do eyelids stay red after blepharoplasty?

  • Your eyelids may look swollen and bruised for 1-3 weeks after the surgery. It should be noted that this is normal and is part of the recovery process. However, the time depends heavily on individual skin health.

What can I expect after blepharoplasty surgery?

  • Bruising and swelling may disappear within 2 weeks while the scars can take months to heal. During your recovery period, make sure to protect your eyelids from too much sun exposure.

Can I sleep on my side after eyelid surgery?

  • It is recommended to sleep on your back during the first few days.
  • Accidentally turning to your side while sleeping shouldn’t cause serious problems as long as pressure is not applied on the operated area.

When can I wash my hair after blepharoplasty?

  • You can generally wash your hair after 5 days.

How long does bruising last after blepharoplasty?

  • While most of the bruising will be gone after 2 weeks, some of it may persist for between 3-4 weeks.

How soon can I wear makeup after blepharoplasty?

  • During your initial recovery, you should avoid wearing make-up. The recommendation is to wait until the incisions heal.

Can you watch TV after eyelid surgery?

  • You should avoid watching TV for 2-3 days to prevent eye strain.

How long do stitches stay in for blepharoplasty?

  • Dissolvable stitches will dissolve on their own while permanent stitches will be removed in 4-7 days.

What can I put on my scars after eyelid surgery?

  • To help minimise scar formation, you can use scar creams. However, you should consult with your surgeon before you do so.
  • Usually, you will be able to apply the cream to the eye area within a few weeks post-surgery.

How do you treat scars after eyelid surgery?

  • Approximately 10-14 days post-surgery, you may massage the scars. You may also try steroid taping and steroid injections into the scar tissue.

How do you wash your face after blepharoplasty?

  • During the first 24 hours, you should leave your eyes alone. However, after that, you can start cleaning your eyelids with a cotton tip applicator and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Generally, you can begin to gently wash your eyelids with water and pat them dry with a clean towel around day 3.
  • Remember not to rub your eyes for at least two weeks.

Will your scars become noticeable after blepharoplasty?

  • No, the incisions are made along the natural crease of your eyelids. This not only reduces the visibility of your scars but also ensures that your surgery is discreet.
  • Furthermore, as time goes by, the scars will lighten which makes them less noticeable.

Studies regarding the health outcomes of blepharoplasty

A study was performed on female patients (25-73 years) who underwent upper blepharoplasty. They were instructed to answer a questionnaire 3 to 6 months before the study. [1] To assess the results and measure visual impairment and aesthetic effects of the surgery, the Blepharoplasty Outcome Evaluation (BOE) and the Derriford Appearance Scale (DAS59) were used.

To evaluate the surgical outcomes of blepharoplasty, a total of 180 patients who underwent the surgery between January 2013 and June 2016 were randomly selected in a study. [2] The subjects answered questionnaires assessing the severity of scarring, functional and appearance issues, pain, and asymmetry. Researchers observed that most patients reported good to excellent outcomes, with minimum to non-visible scarring in the eyelid area. The result of this was a high to very high satisfaction rate.

Modified partial-incision double-eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) study

A study assessed the effects of modified partial-incision double-eyelid surgery in patients who had the procedure from July 2016 to September 2018. [3] In this study, 100 patients were included and followed up. In the majority of the subjects, no serious complications were observed. The surgery produced stable and desired results with no visible scars and serious complications.

Improves Visual Function

Studies found that blepharoplasty may also help improve visual function by altering the shape of the eyelids.

A study evaluated the effects of upper eyelid blepharoplasty on the visual function of patients with dermatochalasis, a condition characterised by excess skin in the upper or lower eyelid. [7] Researchers observed that the subjects experienced significant improvement in visual function. Specifically, the subjects had improvements in contrast sensitivity (ability to distinguish between an object and the background behind it), astigmatism (an imperfection in eye curvature), and higher-order aberrations (specific distortions with the eye’s structure).

Another study evaluated the effects of upper lid blepharoplasty on visual quality in patients with lash ptosis (downward displacement of the eyelashes of the upper eyelid) and dermatochalasis. [8] Before and after the study, different eye parameters such as contrast sensitivity, visual acuity, and the degree of lash ptosis were assessed. After blepharoplasty, the subjects exhibited significant improvements in contrast sensitivity and reduction in lash ptosis.

A study also found that contrast sensitivity is increased in patients with dermatochalasis who had upper lid blepharoplasty. [9] In this study, twenty-eight eyelids of 14 patients showed significant increases in contrast sensitivity. This resulted in brighter vision and overall improvement in visual function.

A study conducted on patients with astigmatism found that upper eyelid surgery can help improve visual function. [10] Before and after the surgery, the visual function of the subjects was assessed. Researchers concluded that eyelid repositioning after upper eyelid surgery improved visual function by creating significant changes in the cornea of the subjects.

May Treat Headaches and Migraines

There are also studies supporting that the removal of excess skin or fat from the eyelids through blepharoplasty may help treat symptoms of migraines and headaches.

To determine the effects of upper eyelid surgery on symptoms of headache, patients with headache symptoms greater than 1 year due to excessive eyelids were studied. [11] The subjects completed the Headache Impact Test-6 quality of life questionnaire before and after the surgery. Interestingly, the subjects reported improvement in the symptoms of headache after upper eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty).

A study evaluated the changes in headache-related quality of life in patients who had upper eyelid surgery and ptosis repair. [12] The subjects answered headache-related quality-of-life surveys before and after the surgery. Results of the study showed that upper eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) and ptosis repair produced significant relief for tension-type headaches.

A systematic review of 3525 studies assessed the favourable outcomes after upper blepharoplasty. [13] This included the effects of the surgery on the visual field and the prevalence of headaches. Results showed that upper blepharoplasty was associated with an enlarged visual field, improved vision, and fewer events of headaches.

References

  • Herruer JM, Prins JB, van Heerbeek N, Verhage-Damen G, Ingels K. Patient-reported outcome measurement in upper blepharoplasty: How to measure what the patient sees. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2018 Sep;71(9):1346-1351. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2018.05.033. Epub 2018 Jun 8. PMID: 30173717. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Zhao JY, Guo XS, Song GD, et al. Surgical outcome and patient satisfaction after Z-epicanthoplasty and blepharoplasty. Int J Ophthalmol. 2018;11(12):1922-1925. Published 2018 Dec 18. doi:10.18240/ijo.2018.12.07. Retrieved from US National Library of Medicine PMC.
  • Shen X. Modified double-eyelid blepharoplasty with the combined partial- And minimal-incision method. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021 Mar;20(3):911-916. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13660. Epub 2020 Aug 20. PMID: 32815635. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Papadopulos NA, Hodbod M, Henrich G, Kovacs L, Papadopoulos O, Herschbach P, Machens HG. The Effect of Blepharoplasty on Our Patient’s Quality of Life, Emotional Stability, and Self-Esteem. J Craniofac Surg. 2019 Mar/Apr;30(2):377-383. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000005057. PMID: 30608369. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Huynh PP, Ishii M, Juarez M, Fung N, Bater K, Darrach H, Nellis JC, Bonham LW, Lay PC, Ishii LE. Exploring Patient Motivations and Impact of Asian Blepharoplasty. Facial Plast Surg. 2020 Jun;36(3):242-248. doi: 10.1055/s-0039-3401804. Epub 2019 Dec 18. PMID: 31853906. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Yin Z, Wang D, Ma Y, Hao S, Ren H, Zhang T, Chen W, Fan J. Self-esteem, Self-efficacy, and Appearance Assessment of Young Female Patients Undergoing Facial Cosmetic Surgery: A Comparative Study of the Chinese Population. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2016 Jan-Feb;18(1):20-6. doi: 10.1001/jamafacial.2015.1381. PMID: 26469879. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.

References Continued

  • Altin Ekin M, Karadeniz Ugurlu S. Prospective analysis of visual function changes in patients with dermatochalasis after upper eyelid blepharoplasty. Eur J Ophthalmol. 2020 Sep;30(5):978-984. doi: 10.1177/1120672119857501. Epub 2019 Jun 17. PMID: 31203659. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • An SH, Jin SW, Kwon YH, Ryu WY, Jeong WJ, Ahn HB. Effects of upper lid blepharoplasty on visual quality in patients with lash ptosis and dermatochalasis. Int J Ophthalmol. 2016;9(9):1320-1324. Published 2016 Sep 18. doi:10.18240/ijo.2016.09.15. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Meyer DR, Stern JH, Jarvis JM, Lininger LL. Evaluating the visual field effects of blepharoptosis using automated static perimetry. Ophthalmology. 1993;100:651–8. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Brown MS, Siegel IM, Lisman RD. Prospective analysis of changes in corneal topography after upper eyelid surgery. Ophthal Plast Reconstr Surg. 1999;15:378–83. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Mokhtarzadeh A, McClelland C, Lee MS, Smith S, Harrison AR. The Bleph and the Brain: The Effect of Upper Eyelid Surgery on Chronic Headaches. Ophthalmic Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017 May/Jun;33(3):178-181. doi: 10.1097/IOP.0000000000000686. PMID: 27015241. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Bahceci Simsek I. Association of Upper Eyelid Ptosis Repair and Blepharoplasty With Headache-Related Quality of Life. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2017;19(4):293-297. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2016.2120. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Hollander MHJ, Contini M, Pott JW, Vissink A, Schepers RH, Jansma J. Functional outcomes of upper eyelid blepharoplasty: A systematic review. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2019 Feb;72(2):294-309. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2018.11.010. Epub 2018 Nov 22. PMID: 30528286. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.

Specialist Plastic Surgeons and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeons are dedicated to best-practice patient care and education, customising Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

Dr Craig Rubinstein
Dr Broughton Snell
Dr Stephen Kleid
Dr Gary Kode

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001124843

Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Hawthorn East, Melbourne. With over 20 years of surgical experience especially in all areas of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, but particularly in breast surgery. These include Breast Augmentation and Breast Reduction as well as Breast Surgery Revision.

Furthermore, he believes that surgical customisation, precision planning and technical expertise help him to provide optimal surgical outcomes for his patients.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001190266

Dr Broughton Snell

Dr Broughton Snell is a Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. His training in Plastic Surgery took place in Australia and the United States of America (USA).

Dr Snell is a fully qualified specialist plastic surgeon having completed his Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon MED0001052799

Dr Stephen Kleid

Dr Stephen Kleid is an experienced Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon (Otolaryngologist) based in Melbourne with a passion for Septo-rhinoplasty, Septoplasty, as well as, a strong interest in Rhinoplasty Revision.

Dr Kleid trained at Melbourne University, then completed surgical training at various hospitals including Royal Melbourne, Royal Children’s, The Eye and Ear and St Vincents. He worked as a surgeon at the University of Florida Medical school for further experience.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001405964

Dr Gary Kode

Dr Gary Kode is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, with experience in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as non-surgical treatments.

Dr Kode is a member of several organisations, including the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), The International Confederation for Plastic and Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, and he holds a Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday - Friday.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.

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