An upper blepharoplasty is a type of eye surgery used to lift and remove excess skin and other tissues because of vision or cosmetic concerns.
While some forms of blepharoplasty may treat the under-eye area, an upper blepharoplasty involves the upper eyelid only.
While surgery isn’t the best option for everyone, a blepharoplasty may help treat upper eyelid concerns. Read on to learn more about this procedure, including the possible risks and recovery considerations you may wish to discuss with a doctor or healthcare professional.
An upper eye blepharoplasty helps treat sagging tissues along the eyelid area. You might consider this surgery for either aesthetic reasons or if your eyelids feel heavy and are bothersome.
This surgery may also treat mechanical ptosis, a condition where the eyelids droop down because of the weight of excess skin and bulging fat pads that can interfere with your vision. You might also be interested in this procedure if you have frequent dermatitis from skin friction.
A healthcare professional may perform an upper blepharoplasty at a hospital or accredited outpatient facility.
Before the procedure
A surgeon will perform a thorough examination and take multiple measurements to achieve the best outcomes. Photographs are taken to document your appearance both before and after the procedure.
Before your eyelid surgery, the doctor will ask you to avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking blood-thinning medications and supplements. If using a general anesthetic, you’ll be asked to fast the night before your surgery. You’ll also want to arrange for a ride home ahead of time.
During the procedure
First, a surgeon will inject a local anesthetic into your eyelid. This will help numb the area so you don’t feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure. In some cases, a general anesthetic may be used.
During an upper blepharoplasty, a surgeon makes incisions along the eyelid crease so they can then peel back excess skin and remove bulging fatty tissues. Any loose skin is removed before a surgeon reshapes the eyelid and closes the incision. Sutures may be needed to close the incision.
How long does an upper blepharoplasty procedure last?
In all, an upper blepharoplasty may take up to 2 hours to complete. This timeframe doesn’t include preoperative and postoperative time, though you’ll likely go home the same day of your surgery.
After the procedure
After eyelid surgery, a doctor may place you in a recovery room to make sure you’re well enough to go home. Before being discharged, they’ll speak with you about using cold compresses or ointments on your eye and give you prescriptions for pain medications, if needed.
Stiches from the upper eyelid skin incision (if there are any) will ordinarily be removed 5 days after your surgery. Overall, it may take 10 to 14 days until you can resume work and other activities, and your eyelids may not completely heal for a few months.
During the recovery period, a doctor will recommend that you avoid any activities that might cause strain and interfere with the ability for your eyelids to heal. This may also include avoiding makeup for up to
In the long term, a surgeon will recommend sun protection, such as wearing sunglasses and hats, to help you keep the results of your surgery. Also, you may wear glasses after surgery but may need to avoid wearing contacts for a
Before choosing to have eyelid surgery, it’s important to discuss all the possible side effects and risks with a surgeon.
Like all types of invasive surgeries involving incisions, an upper blepharoplasty carries the risk of infection. Call a doctor if you’re experiencing severe pain, inflammation, and discharge from the wound site.
Upper blepharoplasty scarring
Scarring of the eyelid is possible if the incisions don’t close properly or if you have problems with healing after the surgery.
Swelling after upper blepharoplasty
Pain, swelling, and bruising are temporary side effects from cosmetic surgery. However, you should call a doctor if you’re experiencing chronic pain and swelling lasting longer than 2 weeks.
Bleeding in the eye socket is a rare side effect that requires immediate medical attention.
Does upper blepharoplasty change eye shape?
While an upper blepharoplasty won’t literally change your eye shape, there’s a risk of having an uneven eye appearance. This is usually caused by removing too much fatty tissue or skin. Should this occur, you might need corrective surgery to fix the error.
Does eyelid surgery cause vision changes?
Eyelid surgery may cause temporary changes in your vision, as well as difficulty closing your eyes. In some cases, blepharoplasty can lead to permanent vision problems. Rarely, the surgery can cause blindness, so it’s important to immediately contact the surgeon if you notice any decreased vision after discharge.
When considering an upper blepharoplasty, ask to see the cosmetic surgeon’s portfolio to get a sense of their skills and what to expect from this procedure. You may also consider the following before-and-after photos as examples of this surgery.
You may be an ideal candidate for upper blepharoplasty if you:
- have either cosmetic concerns or vision issues impacted by droopy (sagging) eyelids
- are a nonsmoker
- don’t have serious eye conditions
- don’t have any chronic health conditions that might impair healing
- are considered healthy overall
- have realistic expectations about the result
A cosmetic surgeon may recommend an upper blepharoplasty over more invasive procedures, such as facelifts, if you’re wanting to treat the eyelid area only.
However, you might also consider other procedures that may treat the eyelid area, depending on what they accomplish:
- Brow lift: This may be recommended in conjunction with (or in place of) eyelid surgery if you wish to treat droopy eyebrows.
- Dermal fillers: If you don’t have a lot of excess skin to remove above the eyelid, then a dermatologist may instead recommend injecting dermal fillers to address concerns with fine lines and wrinkles. This procedure is temporary and will need to be repeated.
- Botox injections: When used for cosmetic purposes, Botox injections may reduce fine lines and wrinkles by relaxing underlying the muscles. This procedure is temporary and will need to be repeated.
The average cost of a blepharoplasty is $4,120. This does not include other costs such as anesthetic and hospital fees, as well as separate fees associated with medical tests and prescriptions you may need after your surgery.
In most cases, procedures such as upper blepharoplasty are not covered by medical insurance. This is especially the case if you’re choosing to have this surgery for cosmetic purposes only.
There may be an exception if you’re having eyelid surgery to address problems impacting your vision. A doctor will need to perform some additional tests to accurately document any disability. Any possible insurance coverage depends on your individual plan, so it may be worth speaking with an insurance provider ahead of time to clarify eligibility.
If insurance won’t cover an upper blepharoplasty, you can speak with the surgeon’s office about other ways you may be able to afford the procedure. They may offer financing, and some may offer discounts for paying out of pocket.
An upper blepharoplasty is usually performed by a board certified ophthalmologist, cosmetic surgeon, plastic surgeon, or dermatologic surgeon. These types of healthcare professionals specialize in reconstructive and aesthetic techniques that may be applied to different areas of the body.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re wanting eyelid surgery for aesthetic purposes only, you’ll want to speak with an ophthalmologist or cosmetic surgeon who specializes in elective procedures. A plastic or dermatologic surgeon may assist in elective procedures, as well as reconstructive techniques to improve vision problems.
To find an appropriate surgeon for your needs, you may ask for a list from an insurance company or obtain a referral from a primary care doctor. You can also search for a list of plastic surgeons in your area here.
If you’re looking to treat droopy eyelids for aesthetic purposes or to help improve your vision, you may consider an upper blepharoplasty to lift the eyelid and remove excess tissue.
Before choosing to have this surgery, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s an invasive procedure that may pose a risk of side effects. Speak with a board certified surgeon about these concerns and any other questions you might have.