If you are considering eyelid surgery, or as it’s medically known a blepharoplasty, it is important that you completely understand the process of recovery as well as aftercare instructions.
While the recovery after eyelid surgery may vary, knowing the proper postoperative tips and recovery timeline will help you know what steps to take in order to have the fastest smoothest recovery possible.
Eye Lid Lift Surgery (Upper and Lower Blepharoplasty) – Download Dr Briggs FREE Guide
Why have Eyelid Surgery?
A blepharoplasty may be the surgery for you if you suffer from any of the following;
- Bags under your eyes
- Creases, wrinkles, and fine lines around your eyes
- Droopy or sagging eyelids that affect your ability to open your eyes
- Or, excess skin on the upper or lower eyelids which results in a reduction in your ability to see.
Why Following Postoperative Instructions is Important
Adhering strictly to the postoperative instructions is vital in order to prevent complications like;
- Bleeding from incision sites
- Difficulty closing your eyes
- Dry, irritated eyes
- Infection. For example the presences of a fever or pus draining from the surgical wound.
- Injury to the muscles of your eye
- Noticeable scarring
- Poor results. In other words, complications or subotimal results that result in the need for revision surgery
- Skin discoloration around the eye
- Vision problems
Eyelid Surgery Recovery Timeline
First 24 Hours
Once your surgery is done and the anaesthesia wears off, you will be able to go home. Your vision will be blurry during this time. To protect your eyes, gauze may be put over the area, as a result, you will need to have someone assist you for a few days.
As with most surgeries involving the face, you should avoid any excessive physical activity and rest as much as possible. Your eyelids may feel tight during the first 24 hours, this is a result of swelling. To reduce swelling, you should use two firm pillows to elevate your head higher than your chest. Furthermore, you should avoid sleeping on your side to prevent your eyelids from coming into contact with the surface of your bed.
During the first week, you will notice some puffiness and/or swelling around the operation site. However, this is completely normal and is an important part of the wound healing process. Furthermore, it’s important to note that blurry vision is also normal during the first week.
After 7-10 days, this should subside and you can expect to feel a significant reduction in discomfort. You may also notice that your eyelids appear pink and feel numb for a few days. In addition to this, there may be some tenderness around your eyes and you may feel sensitive to light. As a result of your light sensitivity, you will most likely want and need to wear dark sunglasses when venturing outside.
To reduce discomfort, you will receive a prescription for medication, we also suggest applying ice compresses to your eyelid area.
After 4 to 6 weeks, you will start to see the results of your eyelid surgery. During this time, you may still have some mild residual swelling around the operation site. This is because the delicate tissues and muscles in your eyelids are continuing to adjust to the effects of your surgery. Once the swelling has completely subsided, your eyelids will appear younger, refreshed, and well-proportioned.
To speed up your recovery, avoid excessive screen time and rest your eyes as much as possible. You should also refrain from bending, lifting, and other activities that require straining. This is because it can increase the pressure in your eyes which also increases the blood flow to the area. You will still need to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes when going outside.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to recover from blepharoplasty eyelid surgery?
- Whilst, recovery from blepharoplasty may vary from patient to patient, in general, you need at least 2 weeks to recover from the procedure.
What is the fastest way to recover from a blepharoplasty?
- You can take steps to help speed up your recovery time and prevent complications, these steps include;
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Prolonged sun exposure.
- Strenuous activities.
- Stressing or straining your eyes.
- Its also important that you do not smoke and avoid alcohol during your recovery.
- Eat healthy foods. In other words, it fresh foods high in vitamins and proteins. For example, lean meats and leafy greens.
- Follow all postoperative instructions.
- Get a good night’s sleep. And also ensure you get enough time to rest.
- Wear dark sunglasses and a hat. Not only is this to help with light sensitivity but it is also to minimise the amount of sun exposure on your incision sites while they heal.
How long do eyelids stay red after blepharoplasty?
- Your eyelids may look swollen and bruised for 1-3 weeks after the surgery. It should be noted, that this is normal and is part of the recovery process. However, the time depends heavily on individual skin health.
What can I expect after blepharoplasty surgery?
- Bruising and swelling may disappear within 2 weeks while the scars can take months to fade. During your recovery period, make sure to protect your eyelids from too much sun exposure.
Can I sleep on my side after eyelid surgery?
- Although it is ideal to sleep on your back during the first few days, accidentally turning to your side while sleeping shouldnt cause serious problems as long as pressure is not applied on the operated area.
When can I wash my hair after blepharoplasty?
- After 5 days, you can wash your hair. During this time, you may use dry shampoo for your hair.
How long does bruising last after blepharoplasty?
- While most of the bruising will be gone after 2 weeks, some of it may persist for between 3-4 weeks.
How soon can I wear makeup after blepharoplasty?
- During your intital recovery you should avoid wearing make up, the recommendation is to wait approximately 2 to 3 weeks before you start wear makeup.
Can you watch TV after eyelid surgery?
- Eye strain is a concern and you may have blurry vision, as a result you should hold off on watching tv until day 2 or 3 days.
How long do stitches stay in for blepharoplasty?
- Dissolvable stitches will dissolve on their own while permanent stitches will be removed in 4-7 days.
What can I put on my scars after eyelid surgery?
- To help minimise scar formation you can use scar creams, however you should get the ok from your surgeon before you do so.
- Usually, you will be able to apply cream to the eye area within a few weeks post-surgery.
How do you treat scars after eyelid surgery?
- Approximately 10-14 days post-surgery you may massage the scars, you may also benefit from steroid taping and steroid injections into the scar tissue.
How do you wash your face after blepharoplasty?
- During the first 24 hours you should leave your eyes alone. However, after that you can start cleaning your eyelids with a cotton tip applicator and hydrogen peroxide.
- Generally, you can begin to gently wash your eyelids with water and patting them dry with a clean towel around day 3.
- Remember not to rub your eyes for at least two weeks.
Will the eyelid area recover faster?
- Yes, your eyelids will recover faster after a blepharoplasty.
- This is because your eyelids are highly vascular, which means that there are a lot of blood vessels located in the area.
- As a result, the blood supply in your eyelids is increased so the surgical wound will receive adequate amounts of oxygen and essential nutrients needed for faster healing.
Will your scars become noticeable after blepharoplasty?
- No, the incisions are made along the natural crease of your eyelids. This not only reduces the visibility of your scars but it also ensures that your surgery is discreet.
- Furthermore, as time goes by, the scars will lighten which makes them almost invisible to the naked eye.
Studies regarding the Health Benefits of Eyelid Surgery
1. Improves Self-Esteem and Quality of Life
Evidence suggests that blepharoplasty can have a positive impact on your self-esteem as well as the quality of life by improving the overall appearance of your eyelids.
A study was performed on female patients (range 25-73 years) who underwent upper blepharoplasty. They were instructed to answer a questionnaire 3 to 6 months before the study period.  To assess the results and measure visual impairment and aesthetic effects of the surgery, the Blepharoplasty Outcome Evaluation (BOE) and the Derriford Appearance Scale (DAS59) were used. The results of the study showed that upper blepharoplasty produced significant improvement in patient satisfaction, self-consciousness, and daily life.
To evaluate the surgical outcomes of blepharoplasty, a total of 180 patients who underwent the surgery between January 2013 and June 2016 were randomly selected in a study.  The subjects answered questionnaires assessing the severity of scarring, functional and appearance issues, as well as, pain, and asymmetry. Researchers observed that most patients reported good to excellent outcomes, minimum to non-visible scarring in the eyelid area. The result of this was a high to very high satisfaction rate.
Modified partial-incision double-eyelid surgery study
A study assessed the effects of modified partial-incision double-eyelid surgery in patients who had the procedure from July 2016 to September 2018.  In this study, a total of 100 patients were included and followed up. In the majority of the subjects, no serious complications were observed. The surgery produced stable and satisfying results with no visible scar and serious complications.
Study of the Psychological Effect of a Blepharoplasty
To evaluate the psychological effects following blepharoplasty, a total of 123 patients who had the surgery between the years 1995 and 2008 were included in a study.  The subjects answered self-developed and indication-specific questionnaires assessing the effects of blepharoplasty on the quality of life, satisfaction, emotional stability, and also self-esteem. Most patients reported significant improvements in their personal well-being, appearance, personality, and self-esteem.
Asian Blepharoplasty study
A total of 315 participants (18-58 years) who had Asian blepharoplasty were evaluated.  The subjects answered a questionnaire assessing satisfaction, perceived social limitation, and perceived professional limitations regarding eye shape. The results showed that the subjects had significant improvements in both their professional and social life. In addition, most of the subjects reported that the surgery is a potential solution for sociological concerns.
To assess the effects of blepharoplasty on psychological traits, different groups of young women, aged between 18-30 years were enrolled in a study from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2014.  The subjects were then instructed to answer questionnaires assessing self-esteem, self-efficacy, and appearance. Six months after the surgery, marked improvement in self-esteem and self-efficacy was observed.
2. Improves Visual Function
Studies found that blepharoplasty can also help improve visual function by altering the shape of the eyelids.
A study evaluated the effects of upper eyelid blepharoplasty on the visual function of patients with dermatochalasis, a condition characterized by excess skin in the upper or lower eyelid.  Researchers observed that the subjects experienced significant improvement in visual function. Specifically, the subjects had improvements in contrast sensitivity (ability to distinguish between an object and the background behind it), astigmatism (an imperfection in eye curvature), and higher-order aberrations (specific distortions with the eye’s structure).
Another study evaluated the effects of upper lid blepharoplasty on visual quality in patients with lash ptosis (downward displacement of the eyelashes of the upper eyelid) and dermatochalasis.  Before and after the study, different eye parameters such as contrast sensitivity, visual acuity, and the degree of lash ptosis were assessed. After blepharoplasty, the subjects exhibited significant improvements in contrast sensitivity and reduction in lash ptosis.
A study also found that contrast sensitivity is increased in patients with dermatochalasis who had upper lid blepharoplasty.  In this study, twenty-eight eyelids of 14 patients showed significant increases in contrast sensitivity. This resulted in brighter vision and overall improvement in visual function.
A study conducted on patients with astigmatism found that upper eyelid surgery can help improve visual function.  Before and after the surgery, the visual function of the subjects was assessed. Researchers concluded that eyelid repositioning after upper eyelid surgery improved visual function by creating significant changes in the cornea of the subjects.
3. Treats Headaches and Migraines
There are also studies supporting that the removal of excess skin or fat from the eyelids through blepharoplasty can help treat symptoms of migraines and headaches.
To determine the effects of upper eyelid surgery on symptoms of headache, patients with headache symptoms greater than 1 year due to excessive eyelids were studied.  The subjects completed the Headache Impact Test-6 quality of life questionnaire before and after the surgery. Interestingly, the subjects reported improvement in the symptoms of headache after upper eyelid surgery.
A study evaluated the changes in headache-related quality of life in patients who had upper eyelid surgery and ptosis repair.  The subjects answered headache-related quality-of-life surveys before and after the surgery. Results of the study showed that upper eyelid surgery and ptosis repair produced significant relief for tension-type headaches and improved the quality of life of the subjects.
A systematic review of 3525 studies assessed the favourable outcomes after upper blepharoplasty.  This included the effects of the surgery on the visual field, quality of life, and prevalence of headaches. Results showed that upper blepharoplasty was associated with an enlarged visual field, improved vision, enhanced quality of life, and fewer events of headaches.
- Herruer JM, Prins JB, van Heerbeek N, Verhage-Damen G, Ingels K. Patient-reported outcome measurement in upper blepharoplasty: How to measure what the patient sees. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2018 Sep;71(9):1346-1351. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2018.05.033. Epub 2018 Jun 8. PMID: 30173717. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- Zhao JY, Guo XS, Song GD, et al. Surgical outcome and patient satisfaction after Z-epicanthoplasty and blepharoplasty. Int J Ophthalmol. 2018;11(12):1922-1925. Published 2018 Dec 18. doi:10.18240/ijo.2018.12.07. Retrieved from US National Library of Medicine PMC.
- Shen X. Modified double-eyelid blepharoplasty with the combined partial- And minimal-incision method. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021 Mar;20(3):911-916. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13660. Epub 2020 Aug 20. PMID: 32815635. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- Papadopulos NA, Hodbod M, Henrich G, Kovacs L, Papadopoulos O, Herschbach P, Machens HG. The Effect of Blepharoplasty on Our Patient’s Quality of Life, Emotional Stability, and Self-Esteem. J Craniofac Surg. 2019 Mar/Apr;30(2):377-383. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000005057. PMID: 30608369. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- Huynh PP, Ishii M, Juarez M, Fung N, Bater K, Darrach H, Nellis JC, Bonham LW, Lay PC, Ishii LE. Exploring Patient Motivations and Impact of Asian Blepharoplasty. Facial Plast Surg. 2020 Jun;36(3):242-248. doi: 10.1055/s-0039-3401804. Epub 2019 Dec 18. PMID: 31853906. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- Yin Z, Wang D, Ma Y, Hao S, Ren H, Zhang T, Chen W, Fan J. Self-esteem, Self-efficacy, and Appearance Assessment of Young Female Patients Undergoing Facial Cosmetic Surgery: A Comparative Study of the Chinese Population. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2016 Jan-Feb;18(1):20-6. doi: 10.1001/jamafacial.2015.1381. PMID: 26469879. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- Altin Ekin M, Karadeniz Ugurlu S. Prospective analysis of visual function changes in patients with dermatochalasis after upper eyelid blepharoplasty. Eur J Ophthalmol. 2020 Sep;30(5):978-984. doi: 10.1177/1120672119857501. Epub 2019 Jun 17. PMID: 31203659. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- An SH, Jin SW, Kwon YH, Ryu WY, Jeong WJ, Ahn HB. Effects of upper lid blepharoplasty on visual quality in patients with lash ptosis and dermatochalasis. Int J Ophthalmol. 2016;9(9):1320-1324. Published 2016 Sep 18. doi:10.18240/ijo.2016.09.15. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- Meyer DR, Stern JH, Jarvis JM, Lininger LL. Evaluating the visual field effects of blepharoptosis using automated static perimetry. Ophthalmology. 1993;100:651–8. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- Brown MS, Siegel IM, Lisman RD. Prospective analysis of changes in corneal topography after upper eyelid surgery. Ophthal Plast Reconstr Surg. 1999;15:378–83. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- Mokhtarzadeh A, McClelland C, Lee MS, Smith S, Harrison AR. The Bleph and the Brain: The Effect of Upper Eyelid Surgery on Chronic Headaches. Ophthalmic Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017 May/Jun;33(3):178-181. doi: 10.1097/IOP.0000000000000686. PMID: 27015241. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- Bahceci Simsek I. Association of Upper Eyelid Ptosis Repair and Blepharoplasty With Headache-Related Quality of Life. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2017;19(4):293-297. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2016.2120. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
- Hollander MHJ, Contini M, Pott JW, Vissink A, Schepers RH, Jansma J. Functional outcomes of upper eyelid blepharoplasty: A systematic review. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2019 Feb;72(2):294-309. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2018.11.010. Epub 2018 Nov 22. PMID: 30528286. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
Dr Patrick Briggs Melbourne Plastic Surgeon – FRCS (Plas)
Specialist Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Melbourne
Dr Patrick Briggs is a Specialist Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon. Both he and his team are dedicated to excellence in patient care and are committed to treating each and every patient with respect and privacy.
Not only does he offer high-quality results he also offers natural-looking plastic and cosmetic surgery results. Furthermore, he is experienced in Breast, Body and Face Surgery having performed over 4500 Surgeries in private practice.
How can we help?
Dr Briggs’ Patient Coordinators take pleasure in assisting you with any questions when considering a plastic surgery procedure. Please call the Hawthorn East clinic in Melbourne between 8 am – 6 pm on Weekdays.
Want more information about your Procedure?
What to Bring to Your Consultation
- If you like, please bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices.
- Take a lot of notes and thoroughly examine the documents your surgeon provides.
- You may need to undress so it’s a good idea to wear simple clothes.