Eyelid surgery is a common procedure. It opens up the eyes, makes them larger, more alert, and more appealing. But while eyelid surgery is simple, 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!
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What is eyelid surgery?
Eyelid surgery (also called blepharoplasty or eyelid lift) is a medical procedure done to correct 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 improve the appearance of the eye.
- Lower blepharoplasty is mostly aesthetic—it removes bags and excess skin in the lower eyelids and results in an awake, refreshed look.
Who can get eyelid surgery?
If you have any of the following conditions, then you may benefit from eyelid surgery.
- Sagging skin around the eyes
- Droopy eyelids
- Excessive under-eye bags
- Excess fat around the lower eyelid
- Impaired peripheral vision
- Visible wrinkles around the eyelids
Eyelid surgery offers many cosmetic benefits and is perfect if you want wider eyes or a fresher look.
Normal Recovery After Blepharoplasty
You’re probably excited to see a better-looking you after your blepharoplasty, but don’t get too worked up. You won’t see the result for some time yet. There will be some adjustments you’ll have to make as you recover from your eyelid lift.
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 normal symptoms you should expect during blepharoplasty recovery are:
- 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.
- 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.
- Scarring: Blepharoplasty incisions are usually very small and are done along your natural 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 a simple outpatient procedure and does not require a hospital stay. It’s done with a locally injected anesthetic, 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.
You’ve just undergone surgery, so expect some drastic 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 improve and 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.
Most patients are back to their normal 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 visible depending on the patient. You may also choose to decrease your pain medication.
At this time, most adverse effects of eyelid surgery should have subsided. You can look in the mirror and enjoy the full results of your procedure. 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 complications and encourage scarring that is barely 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 sir 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 will help you speed up your recovery:
- Allow eyes to rest: Take some time off work, have someone else drive you around, sleep. Sleep a lot. The body naturally recovers during sleep, and your eyes get their well-deserved 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 eat healthily and fuel 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 best 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 good 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 blepharo scar should be fine and barely noticeable. In rare cases, scarring may become excessive enough to affect the normal folding of the eyelid.
- Lagophthalmos: Lagophthalmos is when the eyelids are unable to fully close, usually observed after upper blepharoplasty. If it occurs in the early recovery phase, chances of improvement are expected over the first year.
- Vision impairment: occurs in the form of blurred and altered vision, usually in the early stages of recovery.
Concerning Symptoms After Blepharoplasty
There are some undesirable 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 or 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 normal routine within 7-14 days of healing.
What is the fastest way to recover from a blepharoplasty?
- There’s no fastest way to recovery 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 minimize 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.