Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty) Recovery: A Day-by-Day Guide
Reviewed by Yael Halaas, MD
You've probably given a lot of thought to the potential results of your eyelid surgery, but you may not have focused on the recovery process and healing time. We are here to help. Knowing what to expect during your eyelid surgery recovery will allow you to be better prepared for any bumps in the road.
Once your eyelid lift or Asian eyelid surgery is completed, your surgeon will lubricate your eyes with an ointment and may apply a dressing. After this, you will be brought into the recovery room. You will likely experience temporary blurry vision during the time you are there. This is usually caused by the ointment your surgeon uses to protect your eyes during surgery. Do not panic, it is only temporary.
As the anesthesia wears off, your eyes may feel tight, hot and tender. If you are in pain, ask for a pain reliever.
The experience of coming out of anesthesia varies from person to person. You may feel overly emotional. You may also shiver. If you feel cold, ask for a blanket. If your eyelid surgery was performed with general anesthesia, you may feel nauseated. There are medications that can help, so ask a nurse for one.
If you are not staying overnight at the hospital or surgery center, you will need a designated driver — a friend or family member — to drive you home. You will be groggy and unable to see clearly for at least a day. Your sutures will be removed about three days after your eyelid surgery.
Eyelid Surgery Recovery: Activity Restrictions
Take it easy for the first seven to 10 days after your blepharoplasty. You will likely experience some mild discomfort during this time. Your prescribed pain medication should alleviate any pain. Your surgeon will tell you what over-the-counter painkillers are appropriate if you choose to go this route. Importantly, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin should not be used during your recovery because they increase risk of bleeding. If the pain becomes overwhelming, call your surgeon or the on-call staff immediately.
Infection is a risk after any surgery, including eyelid surgery. An elevated temperature could mean an infection. Take your temperature regularly during your blepharoplasty recovery to monitor for signs of an infection. Be sure to take the full course of your antibiotics to help reduce your risk of infection.
Most people are able to go back to work within 10 days after their blepharoplasty, but certain tasks such as reading may be challenging due to blurred vision. You will likely be able to watch TV after a few days. Do not participate in strenuous activities for at least three weeks. Avoid contact sports until your surgeon gives you the all-clear. You can usually resume using eye makeup within one or two weeks. Make-up can also be used to camouflage any bruising around your eyes during this time. Eyeglasses are OK immediately after the surgery, but you can't put your contact lenses in for at least two weeks after eyelid surgery. Remember, your contacts may not feel comfortable for a while after your surgery.
Eyelid Surgery Recovery: Sleeping
Sleeping after eyelid surgery can be difficult. You should keep your head elevated, even while sleeping, for several days after your surgery to minimize swelling. Try using two to three medium-sized pillows or purchase an inclined foam wedge at your local surgical supply store or pharmacy. You may also be instructed to wear a special eye mask to protect your eyes while you sleep.
Eyelid Surgery Recovery: Bruising and Swelling
Some bruising and swelling after eyelid surgery is a given. Your eye area is extremely delicate and bruises and swells easily. The more complicated your blepharoplasty, the more bruising and swelling you will likely experience. The amount of bruising varies from moderate to black or raccoon eyes, but it will fade with time.
Your eyes may gradually appear more swollen in the days after your eyelid surgery. As the days go by, the swelling will slowly dissipate. It can take up to three weeks for swelling to fully resolve, so be prepared to wait for your final results.
Holding cold compresses on your face and eyes can help keep swelling and bruising to a minimum. These are available at a pharmacy or online. Some surgeons may also recommend herbal remedies such as Arnica Montana or bromelain to reduce post-surgical bruising and swelling.
Eyelid Surgery Recovery: Eye Care
Follow your surgeon's preoperative instruction on how and when to clean your eyes and the area around them. If you experience excessive tearing or dryness after eyelid surgery, your surgeon may recommend using eye drops or a wetting solution to help keep your eyes lubricated. These artificial tear drops may also help alleviate burning or itching. Your eyes may also be light sensitive, so consider sporting a pair of dark sunglasses to better protect them. Protect any incisions with a strong sun block. Ask your surgeon for advice on which sun block is safe.
Good luck with your recovery!