Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) is a procedure used to treat droopy eyelids. During this type of plastic surgery, a doctor removes skin, muscle, and sometimes fat that may be causing the area around your eyes to sag.
Who’s a good candidate?
Eyelid surgery is primarily sought by people looking for anti-aging treatments. Sagging of the skin around your eyes is a natural part of aging, but you may consider this type of surgery if you’re starting to find such effects bothersome. Candidates also seek out blepharoplasty if they have significant bags under their eyes or if their eyebrows are starting to sag.
For some people, a blepharoplasty goes beyond cosmetic concerns. You might be a good candidate for this procedure if your vision is affected by sagging skin. Some people may complain that their vision when looking upwards is blocked by the hanging skin.
To reduce the risk of complications, you may also be a good candidate if you don’t smoke or have any chronic illnesses that can affect your recovery.
Preparing for eyelid surgery is complex. First, you’ll need an initial consultation with a plastic surgeon to discuss your concerns and desired outcomes for your eyelids. You’ll also want to ask your surgeon about their credentials and experiences with this type of surgery.
Before you undergo this procedure, your surgeon will need to run some tests. A physical exam is conducted to look at and measure your eyes. Vision and tear tests are also performed. Finally, your doctor will take pictures of your eyelids to help assist the doctor during the procedure.
It’s important to tell your surgeon about any medications you’re taking. This includes:
- prescription drugs
- over-the-counter remedies
- herbal supplements
You’ll likely be asked to stop taking anything that increases bleeding risks, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or warfarin. You’ll also need to stop smoking several weeks before a blepharoplasty. Here are 15 practical tips from our readers to help you stop smoking.
You’ll need to prepare for the first few days after surgery, as your eyelids may be swollen to the point that your ability to perform some activities may impaired. Consider cooking meals ahead of time, and make sure you have all the items you need so you won’t have to leave home. You’ll also need a friend or loved one to take you home after the surgery.
Blepharoplasties are performed on an outpatient basis. That means you can go home shortly after the procedure. General anesthesia is only used for some people. Your surgeon will usually inject a numbing agent into your eyelids.
The upper eyelids are addressed first. Here, your surgeon will make a small cut and remove excess skin, as well as muscle and sometimes fat. Some of these tissues might be moved to other areas surrounding the eye before your surgeon closes the incision.
The lower lid blepharoplasty usually involves removal of fat, which contributes to the under-eye bags, as well as sometimes removing a small amount of skin. The incision may either be on the inside of the eyelid or on the outside underneath the lower eyelashes. In some people, the lower eyelid may be tightened or secured to the bony skeleton.
Unless you’re undergoing eyelid surgery for vision concerns, insurance won’t likely cover the procedure. Talk to your doctor about all the costs involved ahead of time. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimates that the average cost for eyelid surgery is $3,022.
Recovery from blepharoplasty is relatively short compared with other types of surgeries. Immediately after the procedure you’ll be moved to a recovery room. You’ll be monitored for side effects and, unless there are any complications, you’ll go home the same day.
It’s important to rest for a few days immediately following eyelid surgery. You might experience some swelling and pain. Your doctor may recommend you take ibuprofen to relieve these symptoms. It can take a week or two for these symptoms to fully go away. Your surgeon may also recommend ice packs for the next couple of days.
Blurry vision and sensitivity to light are also possible short-term side effects. Call your doctor if these symptoms last longer than a day or two.
You can’t wear contact lenses for two weeks following eyelid surgery. Be sure to have an alternative, such as prescription glasses, on hand.
You don’t need to keep your eyes covered throughout the entire recovery phase, but you might be sent home with gauze to protect the area. You’ll also need to make sure you gently wash the area and keep it clean. After a few days, you’ll see the surgeon again for an evaluation and to remove any stitches as necessary.
All types of surgery carry the risk of bleeding, bruising, and infection. Blood clots are also a rare, but serious risk.
Other risks and complications include:
- blurry vision
- damage from excessive sun exposure
- dry eyes
- itchiness around the eye area
- inability to close your eyes
- muscle damage
It’s important to talk to your doctor about these risks ahead of time. Also alert your surgeon if you’ve had any previous complications with any type of surgery in the past.
Sometimes a blepharoplasty is used in conjunction with another related procedure to improve the results. Some people with significant saggy eyebrows might opt for a brow lift. Others may even undergo a full facelift to address other cosmetic concerns at the same time. You might consider asking your surgeon if other procedures would help increase the effects of eyelid surgery.
Ideally, eyelid surgery is a one-time procedure. However, you may need follow-up surgeries if you don’t like the results, or if your eyelids don’t heal properly the first time around.
Blepharoplasty is primarily used to treat common signs of aging that develop around your eyes. If you’re concerned about excessive amounts of skin or sagginess around your eyes, talk to a dermatologist about your options. In some cases, you may not need surgery.