Blepharoplasty: Pain and Recovery
By Adam Dike
The eyelid surgery procedure, which lasts from one to three hours, is commonly performed while the patient is under sedation. However, eyelid surgery may also be performed under local anesthesia. Blepharoplasty is typically done on an outpatient basis. Generally, eyelid surgery patients report little significant pain from the surgery and, while recovery time will vary from individual to individual, most people should be able to return to a normal schedule within a week to ten days.
Postoperative Effects Associated with Blepharoplasty
Immediately following eyelid surgery, patients often feel tightness around their eyes, which is generally treated with a prescribed oral medication. During the first two days following the Blepharoplasty procedure, the patient will experience differing degrees of swelling and bruising, depending on the type of eyelid surgery performed and the patient’s individual reactions. Also, the patient often experiences temporary ocular discomforts such as itching, burning and general dryness of the eye, a blurring of vision, overactive tearing, and sensitivity to sunlight. Eye drops are recommended by some plastic surgeons to help relieve these symptoms. Dark sunglasses can also be worn for the first few weeks following surgery to help reduce the impact of light and wind on the eye.
Severe complications rarely arise from eyelid surgery. However, infection and bleeding can occur. Some patients experience difficulty pulling down the lower eyelid and sometimes in completely closing the eye. These symptoms are rarely permanent. In some extremely rare cases, bleeding has occurred following eyelid surgery and was not detected and treated immediately, resulting in blindness.
Recovering from Blepharoplasty
It is important to realize that recovery time can differ significantly from patient to patient. Hence, the following information consists of a set of estimations.
For the first few days after eyelid surgery it is advisable that the patient sleep in a recliner with his or her head elevated on pillows in order to keep swelling down. Regular application of a cold compress will also help with swelling during this period. The eyelid surgery patient will need to apply an antibiotic to the effected area twice a day for at least four days. Bandages are generally not used, but it is advisable that the patient has gauze handy. Patients may shower and wash their hair as they normally would. However they should try to avoid getting any soap on the incisions. After about three days eyelid surgery patients generally no longer require prescription pain medication.
Stitches are typically removed within a week following the procedure. The patient’s vision can remain a little blurry for a few days after the removal of the stitches. Swelling usually goes down within seven days, though some patients experience some minor swelling for several weeks. Bruising usually vanishes within seven to ten days. People are generally allowed to wear make-up within the first week following the surgery to help hide any discoloration, if they so choose. Scarring usually becomes imperceptible within a few weeks.
In order to minimize the temporary dryness and itching of the eye that often follows blepharoplasty, it is advisable to avoid activities that normally dry the eyes, such as reading, watching television and using a computer, for three to seven days following the surgery. Generally, eyelid surgery patients can go back to work after seven to ten days. Contact lenses can be used again after two or more weeks. Because increased blood flow to the eyes should be avoided for the first three to four weeks, any strenuous activity or exercise should be avoided during this period. Crying and excessive blinking should also be avoided, as these activities lead to an increase in swelling. Because alcohol increases fluid retention it can delay the patient’s recovery time. Hence alcohol is to be avoided for at least three weeks following the procedure. After the removal of the stitches and healing of the incisions, the use of sun block around the eyelid is advisable for six months. Depending on the type of surgery and the recovery time of the patient, the final result will be visible in two to six weeks. If you're looking for a cosmetic surgeon experienced in blepharoplasty, contact Scott A. Greenberg, M.D., FACS in Orlando and Winter Park, Florida.