Eyelid Surgery: Frequently Asked Questions

A very popular procedure, with a RealSelf Worth It Rating in the 90s, eyelid surgery tightens or removes sagging or excessive skin around the eyes. The result is a smoother, more youthful appearance.

Like many people considering eyelid surgery, you probably have a lot of questions. We drew on the expertise of RealSelf doctors to bring you the answers to the most frequently asked questions.

In this overview:

What is eyelid surgery?
Is right for me?
How much does it cost?
How do I choose a surgeon?
How should I prepare for this procedure?
What happens on the day of the procedure?
What’s the recovery time?
What results can I expect?
What are the possible side effects or risks?
What else do I need to know?

What is eyelid surgery?

Eyelid surgery, also known as an eyelid lift or blepharoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery procedure designed to remove or tighten skin around the eyes to get rid of crepey eye skin, drooping eyelids, puffy bags, and dark circles.

The specifics of the procedure vary individually, depending on your exact needs. Some only have surgery on their upper or lower eyelids. Others have surgery on both. The process can include fat removal, or repositioning and flattening of hollow areas.

You are hardly alone in wanting to improve the look of your eyes. Dr. Gabriel Chiu, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, listed eyelid surgery among the five most popular plastic surgery procedures.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Frank Fechner
Photo courtesy of Dr. John Connors III
Photo courtesy of Dr. Kimberley O’Sullivan
Photo courtesy of Dr. Grant Stevens
Photo courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Schiller

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Is it right for me?

Are you trying to look younger? Eyelid surgery might help you do just that. By tightening or removing skin around your eyes, the procedure can give you a brighter, more youthful appearance.

Your vision may improve, too. Excessive skin can push down on your eyelid and impair your sight, and some insurances might even cover the cost of surgery if that is the case. To find out if you could be covered, visit an ophthalmologist for a visual field exam.

Eyelid surgery may be right for you if:

  • You are relatively healthy.

  • You do not have any serious pre-existing eyelid conditions.

  • You are trying to treat droopy eyelids, loose skin, puffy bags, or dark circles around your eyes.

Ideal candidates are usually in their 30s, as that’s the age skin starts to lose elasticity. The procedure is more popular as people age, especially with those in their 50s or 60s.

Dr. Andrew Campbell, a Milwaukee facial plastic surgeon, explains how eyelid surgery can improve the look of your eyes.

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How much does it cost?

The average eyelid surgery costs $4,525 based on reviews from RealSelf community members. The cost depends on your location, your surgeon, and the complexity of your surgery.

If you need procedures on your upper and lower eyelids, you can potentially save money doing both at the same time. Doing so saves on anesthesia and facility costs.

Your bill could get some relief from the insurance company. If you are suffering from a significant amount of visual obstruction, upper eyelid surgery could be covered by insurance.

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How do I choose a surgeon?

It might be tempting to find the cheapest doctor, but your priority should be finding an experienced one, either a board-certified plastic surgeon or board-certified oculoplastic surgeon with proven results.

Before and after photos are a good indication of the results you can expect. Ask the doctor how frequently they perform the procedure, preferably they do at least one per week.

We also recommend meeting with multiple surgeons before making a selection. It’s important to connect with your doctor and be comfortable with their bedside manner in addition to their skills as a surgeon.

“They should make you feel comfortable and confident,” Dr. Jed Horowitz, a plastic surgeon in Newport Beach, Calif., says in this Q&A on selecting a plastic surgeon. “The office and staff members should also inspire confidence and trust.”

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How should I prepare for this procedure?

Even though eyelid surgery doesn’t require an extensive recovery, you still need to plan ahead. That means taking a few days off work. Some people are ready to return within five to seven days, especially if just the upper lids are done. Lower lid blepharoplasty tends to take longer. 

It is also important to have a transportation plan to and from surgery. Once you are home, ice packs will reduce swelling and speed up recovery. Your doctor may suggest you use baby soap for washing sutures. Have eye drops on hand for dry eyes after surgery, and large sunglasses for wearing outside.

Don’t overlook your pillows. Elevating your head can help reduce swelling and speed recovery. If you are traveling, a travel pillow will improve your comfort on the way home.

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What happens on the day of the procedure?

Eyelid surgery is relatively hassle free, especially compared to most plastic surgery. You don’t need to go to the hospital or even an outpatient surgery center. Some surgeons perform the procedure in their office using local anesthesia.

The actual procedure consists of the surgeon marking the natural crease in your eyelid and removing extra skin around that. They may remove or contour the orbital fat around your eye. The procedure can be done using either a scalpel or a laser.

You should be in and out of the office in two hours or less.

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What’s the recovery time?

Dr. Mark Berkowitz , a Sterling Heights, Mich., oculoplastic surgeon, discusses how long it can take eyelids to heal after surgery, and healing times with different techniques.


The recovery process is usually not extensive. There might be some swelling and bruising, but most people don’t experience much pain. Most doctors suggest two weeks of recovery before returning to normal activities.

Dr. Kenneth Bermudez, a San Francisco plastic surgeon, suggests in this Q&A that patients sleep with their head elevated, apply ice compresses, avoid alcohol, and avoid activities that dry eyes or increase blood flow.

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What results can I expect?

Brighter, tighter, and more open eyes. Droopy eyelids and excessive skin are no more. The results can be subtle but impactful, and will last for years. You should look natural, yet more alert and vibrant. 

Dr. William Ramsdell, a dermatologic surgeon in Austin, Texas, discusses the impact of eyelid surgery and the procedure.

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What are the possible side effects or risks?

Like any surgery, there are potential risks. Possible complications include the inability to close your upper eyelid if too much skin is removed. Dry eyes are possible, and if you already have dry eyes, there is a chance surgery could make that condition worse. Inexperienced surgeons can cause the lower lids to be pulled outward and down.

Dr. William Portuese, a Seattle plastic surgeon, said in this Q&A that permanent blindness and double vision are “exceedingly rare and do not happen in experienced hands.”

It’s always best to discuss any potential issues with your doctor prior to surgery.

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What else do I need to know?

Will I get different results if surgery is performed with a laser instead of a scalpel?

The result won’t depend on what cutting tool is used, but how skilled your surgeon is using it. Assuming the skill level of the surgeon is the same, your results will be the same. Which tool is used typically depends on the surgeon's preference.

Are there alternatives to eyelid surgery?

Eyelid surgery is the most effective way to treat many eye-area issues, but other options can produce results. Dr. Thomas Buonassisi, a Vancouver facial plastic surgeon, oulined a few in this Q&A

  • Botox can subtly lift the eyebrows, getting some loose skin away from the eyelid.

  • Deep Erbium laser treatment can resurface and tighten lower eyelid skin.

  • Superficial laser treatments (using a fractionated CO2 laser) of the lower lids can improve the texture and tone.

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Looking for more?


    This guide has been reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Peter Truong, an oculoplastic surgeon in Fresno, Calif. He is board-certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and a member of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.

    Disclaimer: This content is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare professional. Your reliance on any information or content provided in the guide is solely at your own risk. You should always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare professional for any questions you have about your own medical condition. RealSelf does not endorse or recommend any specific content, procedure, product, opinion, healthcare professional, or any other material or information in this guide or anywhere on this website.

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