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Recovery after Eyelid Surgery – Postop Tips & Timeline for Blepharoplasty

Eyelid surgery (Blepharoplasty) is a common procedure. It is still considered an invasive surgical procedure. It’s understandable for many to have their apprehensions about it. How painful will it be? How long will it take to recover? Is recovery hard? We’ve put together a week-by-week timeline and a list with all the tips you need to make a better recovery after Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty)!

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What is eyelid surgery?

Eyelid surgery (also called blepharoplasty or eyelid lift) is a medical procedure done to alter defects and deformities of the eyelids that may affect vision and appearance.

During the procedure, your plastic surgeon surgically resects (i.e., removes) excess skin, muscle, and fat from the upper and lower eyelids.

Types of Blepharoplasty

  • Upper blepharoplasty can be functional or cosmetic. This procedure removes excess skin or bulging fat pads in the upper eyelids that may impair vision in severe cases. It is also an elective procedure to alter the appearance of the eye.
  • Lower blepharoplasty is mostly aesthetic—it removes bags and excess skin in the lower eyelids.

Who can get eyelid surgery?

If you have any of the following conditions, then you may be suitable for eyelid surgery.

  • Excess skin around the eyes
  • Excessive under-eye skin
  • Excess fat around the lower eyelid
  • Impaired peripheral vision
  • Visible wrinkles around the eyelids

Recovery After Blepharoplasty

There will be some adjustments you’ll have to make as you recover from your eyelid surgery.

Some factors affect the length and quality of blepharoplasty recovery—your overall health, age, skin quality, and the number of incisions.

If you’re getting surgery on your upper eyelids, you can get back to your daily routine after 7–10 days of healing. Lower eyelid surgery requires a bit longer recovery, so you will be able to get back to your usual routine after 10–14 days.

The symptoms you should expect during blepharoplasty recovery are:

  1. Bruising: It happens because surgery disrupts the blood vessels under the skin. It will go from purple and pink to blue and green to yellow as it heals. It takes about four weeks for eyelid bruising to go away completely.
  2. Swelling: It is usually worse in the morning and gets better during the day. This is mostly because the horizontal position when you lie down at night means that more fluid gets to accumulate in your eyes. Swelling will begin to improve 2–3 weeks following blepharoplasty.
  3. Scarring: Blepharoplasty incisions are usually very small and are done along your eyelid skin creases. Therefore, blepharoplasty scars are usually invisible.

During the first few days, your eyes may feel dry and itchy but will be watery at the same time. They will be red for a while, and almost every patient experiences variable amounts of swelling and mild pain after blepharoplasty.

Recovery Timeline after Eyelid Surgery

In order to prepare well for your eyelid lift, you need to know what to expect during the recovery period. Here, you’ll find a timeline detailing all that you need to know about blepharoplasty recovery:

Same Day of Blepharoplasty

Blepharoplasty is an outpatient procedure and does not require a hospital stay. It’s done with a locally injected anaesthetic, so you will be completely conscious all the time.

Right after the surgery, you may be given a cold compress to reduce post-operative swelling, which you will be advised to keep on for 15–20 minutes. Upon discharge, your surgeon may suggest the following aftercare and discharge instructions:

  • Elevate your head using two firm pillows when you lie down, even when you sleep.
  • Use medicated eye drops as prescribed
  • Avoid any strenuous physical activity.
  • Take your pain medication when needed.
  • Use cold compresses to reduce swelling.
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in the first few days.

Week 1

You’ve just undergone surgery, so expect some adjustments in the beginning. Pain, swelling, blurry vision, dry and itchy eyes, and numbness are completely normal in the early stages of recovery.

The pain should last only 2-3 days and will improve over the next couple of weeks.

Bruising and swelling after blepharoplasty can be annoying during the recovery period. If you’re going out, others will be able to tell that you’ve had eyelid surgery. These side effects may be more noticeable and could be expected for up to 1-2 weeks before they become less apparent.

During the first week after your blepharoplasty, you need to avoid overworking your eyes. This means taking it easy with reading, watching TV, and using your phone.

Week 2

Most patients are back to their routine by the second week after blepharoplasty. Light physical movement such as walking and doing house chores pose little risk, but more strenuous activities should still be avoided.

The swelling and bruising will most likely have improved significantly after a full week has passed, however, may still be visible depending on the patient. You may also choose to decrease your pain medication.

Weeks 3-4

At this time, most adverse effects of eyelid surgery should have subsided. It is recommended that you wait till the fourth week after blepharoplasty to resume your usual gym routine.

Tips for Blepharoplasty Incision Care and Healing

With proper post-operative care, you should minimise your risk of complications and encourage scarring that is less visible. Here are a few tips to guide you:

  • Keep the incision clean with a mix of 3% hydrogen peroxide and warm water three times per day. (or as directed by your surgeon)
  • Avoid direct exposure to sunlight for six months.
  • Use the prescribed eye drops to relieve your eyes and keep them hydrated.
  • Apply the prescribed antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly to the incision to keep it hydrated.
  • Allow your incision sites to air dry after showering or bathing. If you must, you can carefully pat the eyelids gently.
  • Always watch out for signs of infection (redness, pain, oozing, warm to touch)
  • Very gently massage the area of the incision with vitamin E up to six weeks after the surgery.
  • Attend your follow-up appointments as recommended

8 Tips for Faster Blepharoplasty Recovery

Here are some important tips that may help you speed up your recovery:

Allow eyes to rest

Take some time off work, have someone else drive you around, and sleep. Sleep a lot. The body recovers during sleep, and your eyes get their rest.

Get cool

You don’t need to keep your ice pack on 24/7, but do avoid getting warm as much as you can. That means no sun exposure, no hot showers, and no extended hot baths.

Keep clean

Aside from keeping the incision site clean and free of irritants, it also means eating healthy and fueling your body the best you can for recovery. Load up with plenty of fluid, so your body has the nutrition it needs to recover. Keep nicotine out of your system since it can slow down healing.

Sleep in a correct position

After blepharoplasty, we recommend that you sleep on your back with your head elevated for at least 3-4 weeks. This helps reduce eyelid swelling and speeds up recovery. Sleeping on your stomach can lead to accidental trauma to your blepharoplasty incisions and should be avoided.

Use cold compresses and ice packs

These are the methods to reduce swelling and bruising after blepharoplasty. Make sure you use clean towels and avoid applying ice directly to your wounds without a cover.

Wear sunglasses

During the first 1-2 weeks after blepharoplasty, your eyes will be sensitive to sunlight. It can cause irritation, redness, and eye pain. Therefore, we recommend that you wear large polarized sunglasses that can properly protect your eyes from sunlight.

Wear sunscreen

Excessive sun exposure can disturb your eyelid healing process. It can lead to overgrowth and hyperpigmentation of your scar. That’s why you should wear sunblock once your incisions have healed for at least 1-3 months after your blepharoplasty to allow your eyelids to settle without complications.

Avoid touching, rubbing, and scratching your eyes

The first few days after blepharoplasty might be a little annoying. You will be fighting the urge not to touch your eyes and scratch them. This should be avoided at any cost, as it can hurt your eyelid wounds and might make them open.

Potential Complications of Blepharoplasty

Blepharoplasty is generally a simple procedure that has very minimal risks. A plastic surgeon will inform you of the risks involved with an eyelid lift before you decide to sign up for it:

  • Edema (puffiness) and ecchymosis (bruising) are normal to an extent. And the extent of both depends on the plastic surgeon’s technique and the patient’s characteristics. Some patients heal faster, and others will bruise easier.
  • Milia: are white bumps that may appear along the incision line. They are skin flakes or keratin that get trapped under the skin’s surface, and your plastic surgeon can easily take them out.
  • Infection: Improper hygiene can lead in some cases to post-operative wound infections. These require treatment with antibiotics.
  • Bleeding: Sometimes, a loose blood vessel might keep bleeding after surgery. If compression does not stop the bleeding, then you’ll need to come to see your surgeon.
  • Scarring: With proper post-operative treatment, a blepharoplasty scar should be fine and barely noticeable. In rare cases, scarring may become excessive enough to affect the folding of the eyelid.
  • Lagophthalmos: Lagophthalmos is when the eyelids are unable to fully close, usually observed after upper blepharoplasty.
  • Vision impairment: occurs in the form of blurred and altered vision, usually in the early stages of recovery.

All surgery contains risks, read more here.

Concerning Symptoms After Blepharoplasty

There are some side effects of blepharoplasty that cannot be avoided, but it is important to distinguish these from more concerning symptoms that require medical care:

  • Bleeding from the area of surgery
  • An extreme change in vision
  • Signs of infection around the site of surgery
  • Intense pain and swelling
  • Pain that isn’t relieved by painkillers
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loose stitches
  • Redness around scars
  • Nausea and vomiting that is not subsiding after 3 hours
  • Any kind of discharge from the incision
  • Temperature over 38 C

Recovery after Eyelid Surgery FAQs

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

  • You can expect to fully recover from your procedure after about three months, but you should be able to get back to your routine within 7-14 days of healing.

What is the fastest way to recover from a blepharoplasty?

  • There’s no fastest way to recover from any surgery.
  • Recovery speed is variable from one case to another. Sticking to your surgeon’s instructions and trying out the tips we provided can help.

How long do eyelids stay red after blepharoplasty?

  • Most patients experience a small amount of redness near the incision site, while others see redness covering the entire eyelids. Either way, discolouration takes about two to three weeks to fully diminish after eyelid surgery.

Can I sleep on my side after eyelid surgery?

  • You should avoid sleeping on your side, as this can increase swelling. It is recommended to sleep on your back with your head elevated for at least two weeks after surgery.

When can I wash my hair after blepharoplasty?

  • You can wash your hair five days after the surgery, but you should use gentle products (such as baby shampoo) to lessen the chances of irritating the surgical sites.

How soon can I wear makeup after blepharoplasty?

  • Avoid putting anything on your eyes for at least three weeks after surgery. Your eyes will be extra sensitive for a while, and even your usual skincare and makeup routine may irritate them.
  • If you are unsure which products to avoid, please check with your surgeon.

Can you watch TV after eyelid surgery?

  • It is not recommended initially, since watching TV strains your eyes. You should avoid activities that strain the eyes for three to five days after blepharoplasty.

How long do stitches stay in for Blepharoplasty?

  • Permanent stitches will be taken out by your plastic surgeon four to seven days post-surgery. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about dissolvable stitches since they break down on their own.

What can I put on my scars after eyelid surgery, and how do you treat them?

  • You can gently massage your eyes with vitamin E or cocoa butter starting six weeks after the surgery to minimise scarring.

How do you wash your face after blepharoplasty?

  • Gently clean your face below the eyes with wipes or a soft cloth. After three to seven days, you can resume using mild soaps.

Medical Resources on Recovery after Eyelid Surgery:

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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