Blepharoplasty surgery, also called eyelid surgery, is a common cosmetic procedure that can make you look more alert. It can quickly take years off of your appearance by removing excess fat, skin, and muscle that puffs out and weighs down your eyelids. This surgery may also improve vision in some cases by literally expanding your field of view.
Whatever your motivation for the surgery is, it’s essential to understand what eyelid surgery entails and what you should expect in recovery. These recovery tips will help you prepare for your blepharoplasty and facilitate the healing process so you can quickly begin to enjoy the benefits of this procedure.
What are the Benefits of Blepharoplasty?
From a functional standpoint, sagging eyelids, whether caused by age or genetics, can impair your field of vision. By tightening the eyelids, blepharoplasty can restore your vision, including compromised peripheral (side) vision.
Cosmetically, a blepharoplasty can dramatically restore a youthful, well-rested appearance by removing loose and sagging skin that can make you appear tired and sad. The procedure also works by tightening drooping eyelids, smoothing out wrinkles near your forehead, and eliminating puffy under-eye bags. There is also some recent evidence that eyelid surgery may even offer some relief to migraine sufferers.
What is the Process of Blepharoplasty Surgery?
Blepharoplasty surgery, or eyelid bag removal surgery, is an outpatient procedure that tightens sagging skin around the eyes. Blepharoplasty is a simple, straightforward procedure that can be performed on the upper and lower eyelid.
During the surgery, your doctor will make a small, well-placed incision. Through that little opening, your doctor will be able to remove excess skin, fat, or muscle. Incisions are often made on both the upper and lower eyelids to open up the eye area. However, stitches may only be required on the upper eyelids. Any necessary sutures to close the wound will need to be in place for at least seven days before they can be removed or dissolve independently. If your stitches need to be removed, that will take place at your scheduled follow-up visit.
Side Effects of Blepharoplasty Surgery
The surgery’s temporary side effects can include sensitivity to light, blurred vision, numbness, puffy eyelids, and double vision. You may also experience slight pain or discomfort and have swelling or bruising that resembles a black eye.
You’ll have to have someone drive you home once you’re released since some patients experience nausea or grogginess from the anesthesia. Ideally, it would be best if you had someone stay with you during the first night of recovery, too.
Most patients who undergo this procedure return to their normal activities within a couple of weeks, as little as 10 days after surgery. The initial concerns that dictate how long you’ll spend before you resume normal activities are bruising, swelling, and maturation of the incision, which varies from person to person.
Know that while you’ll be able to function within a few days, it may take up to a year for your scar to fade to its maximum improvement. Following these steps will help you ensure that your skin heals properly as you recover.
One week after surgery, you shouldn’t experience much pain or discomfort. Your sight should start to clear up. Within ten days, you can begin normal activities like exercise.
Two to three weeks after surgery, there may still be minimal bruising and swelling. Most are cleared to begin wearing eye makeup and contact lenses by this time. Within 4-6 weeks, most of the bruising and swelling should be gone, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the benefits of your blepharoplasty.
Tips for Rapid Recovery
Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for a quick recovery. The most common risks associated with blepharoplasty surgery are bleeding, scarring, infection, irritation, revision, and dry eyes.
- Use an ice pack to reduce swelling. Before your surgery, make sure that you have comfortable ice packs and plenty of gauze on hand for your recovery. To reduce swelling and bruising around the area, you must continuously use ice packs, especially during the first three crucial days following surgery.Patients often report that their eyes feel tight, slightly hot, or tender between 2-3 days after surgery. Some patients experience minor discomfort. Ice packs help, prescribed or recommended over the counter pain medicines to minimize pain and reduce swelling. Don’t take aspirin, ibuprofen, or Aleve (naproxen) for pain relief since these may increase bleeding. Avoid taking supplements like fish oil, Vitamin E, or cranberry extract that may also make you more susceptible to bleeding as you recover.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyelids. You should always wear sun protection and sunscreen when you anticipate sun exposure. It’s even more important to protect your eyes from the elements during your recovery.Sporting dark sunglasses and a hat are the best ways to shield your eyes from wind and sunlight as you heal. Apply sunscreen and follow any other instructions from your doctor to protect your eyes to minimize future scarring.
- Get more sleep. The first few days after surgery, you should make a point of sleeping with your head raised above your chest to reduce swelling and complications. Elevating your head above your heart prevents facial strain, swelling and can generally help minimize discomfort. The best way to raise your head is by propping up your head with a stack of pillows and placing extra pillows at the sides of your face. They’ll help to keep your head from rolling as your sleep.Plan for sufficient rest every night to give your body time to heal. If you feel tired, take a nap. Relaxing and focusing on your recovery is imperative to achieving the best results from this procedure.
- Avoid physical exertion. Too much activity can strain or stress your body, increasing blood flow to your eyes, which can cause bleeding. Consequently, avoid lifting heavy things, performing any aerobics, intensive exercise, or sports that may physically stress your body for a few weeks after surgery.It’s also vital that you avoid straining your eyes during the recovery process. For the first week after surgery, it’s best to avoid reading, watching TV, or even using the computer to check email as these activities can cause your eyes to dry out.Before you go into surgery, you should make a plan to have good help. Stock your fridge with prepared options that are easy to access for the first few days. If you have household or work responsibilities, delegate them, especially for the critical, early days after surgery, since you may not have clear vision. Find a good caregiver for the first few days after surgery if you can.The first few days after surgery ultimately set the tone for the rest of your healing process, so concentrate on starting your recovery with a strong foundation to optimize success. This is a time to focus on self-care.
- Steer clear of smoking and alcohol. Nicotine is particularly harmful to the recovery process of cosmetic procedures. If you currently smoke, you should stop. Ideally, you’d want to quit several weeks in advance of your surgery, but avoid smoking as you heal for the best results. Nicotine found in cigarettes can delay wound healing, impede scar reduction, increase your risk of infection and permanently damage some smaller blood vessels. Smoking also puts you at a higher risk for potentially fatal surgery complications like a stroke, heart attack, blood clots, and pneumonia.Alcohol can cause dehydration, increase your risk of swelling, and prolong the recovery process. Alcohol thins the blood, which can lead to bleeding and the potential for infection.
Contact a Qualified Surgeon For More Information
Blepharoplasty is a common procedure because it can provide so many benefits from such a simple and straightforward process. With the right knowledge, you can prepare for your surgery so that you are well on your way to a speedy recovery.
The first few days after your surgery are pivotal in your recovery. Secure the proper support at home and work as you need to rest your eyes and the rest of your body for several days after surgery.
Sixteen years of experience in cosmetic surgery allowed Dr. Sidle to develop a humanistic approach to blepharoplasty that results in a dramatically improved, but natural appearance. If you are considering blepharoplasty surgery, contact a qualified facial plastic surgeon like Dr. Sidle for more information and a professional consultation. Dr. Sidle is Chicago’s leading facial cosmetic surgeon and board certified by two independent surgery boards (ABFPRS and ABOHNS). His services range from minimally invasive office procedures to major operations leading to dramatic results and improvements in appearance.