Eyelid Surgery Recovery

I cannot afford to miss more than 2 weeks of work when recovering from blepharoplasty procedure. Can a plastic surgeon describe the post-op recovery typical for patients? What is the standard eyelid surgery recovery time?

Doctor Answers 224

Recovery after blepharoplasty

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The honest truth is..that this depends on you. ON AVERAGE, most patients are 90% back to normal in two weeks. Are their incisions still visible..yes. Do they have some slight bruising..yes. Is it small enough to not notice...yes. However..that being said if my sister said, "Chris, my wedding is in two weeks..can you do a blepharoplasty on me today and in good conscience tell me I will "back to normal" in two weeks", I would tell her not to take the chance. There are patients I perform blepharoplasty on that are "back to normal" in three to four days. I also have had patients that are "back to normal" in three or four weeks. This is dependant on a couple things.

1. The individual patient's constituition - different people heal differently and at different times in their lives. Because you had a cut that healed in four days when you were 16 doesn't mean you can expect the same from a blepharoplasty at 43.

2. How much bleeding there was during surgery. The more bleeding the more bruising. All surgeons try to minimize bleeding and bruising but if you had a small blood vessel that was difficult to stop bleeding, you may have more bruising and thus take longer to heal

3. How much icing,rest, and head elevating the patient does. At six months how much icing, head elevation and rest you did in the first couple days does not really matter..the patient who did it and the patient who didn't do it look the same..however, at two weeks the person who iced, rested and kept their head elevated look better.

Studies have shown that complete healing can take up to one year. Patients who underwent blepharoplasty usually feel that most of the healing has occured within two weeks. That is an average..there are some who felt it took a lot longer and there are some who felt it was shorter. It is difficult to predict. It is well known that smokers take longer to heal because their blood supply to compromised. It can be hard to give an exact date or guarantee for healing. Anyone who gives you a guarantee is not being honest with you. 

Denver Oculoplastic Surgeon

Eyelid Surgery Recovery

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Typical recovery is as follows:

Pain Level: Mild discomfort. 0-3 days of pain medication; may not require medication
Swelling and bruising: skin removal only: 3-5 days; skin & fat removal: 1-2 weeks
Stitches: if used, removed in 2 -5 days; no bandages
Work: Return after 5 days with makeup; After 2-3 weeks without makeup
Exercise: Wait 2-3 weeks
Sun protection: Six months with SPF 15 or higher
Final result: Seen after 1-2 months

Contact lenses may be worn in 1-2 weeks (glasses can be worn immediately)
Eye makeup can be worn after 7 days

For faster recovery:
• Sleep with your head elevated for the first few days after surgery to minimize swelling
• Place ice compresses on your eyes for 1-3 days
• Avoid activities that dry the eyes (reading, watching television, wearing contacts, and using a computer)
• Avoid excessive blinking, which leads to increased swelling
• Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from wind and sun irritation
• Avoid any activity that increases blood flow to the eyes (bending, lifting, crying and exercise)
• Don't drink alcohol (can cause fluid retention and delay recovery)

Kenneth Bermudez, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

In general, 7-10 days after Blepharoplasty

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I generally do some sort of Blepharoplasty or Ptosis repair every working day. I agree, of course, with my colleagues. Recovery time varies from patient to patient. Some of your recovery time is in your control, while other factors are not. With the definition of "recovery" meaning that there are no noticeable incision marks, swelling or bruising to the outward public, eye surgery in my office has a recovery rate generally of 7-10 days. I would estimate that this statement holds true for about 80% of my patients. The remaining 20% will need more time as each of us heal at our own rate. On the other hand, I have seen patients who have come in on a 5 day follow-up that show no signs of bruising or swelling.

Patients can certainly go back to work in 3 days, but if the goal of the patient is to be discreet, the 7-10 day rule generally holds up as long as the patient has been thorough in adhering to recovery protocol. This includes icing, and staying away from various medications and supplements before and immediately after surgery- ie: aspirin, vitamin E, fish oil etc.

It is, as my colleagues have pointed out, important that a patient refrain from strenuous activity during recovery as well. On the other hand, light activity is certainly encouraged. In general, if you're moving, you're healing with regard to such procedures.

Smokers beware. Healing time is significantly longer for those who smoke regularly and risk a higher rate of complications. I insist that my patients stop for at least 2 weeks before and after surgery if at all possible.

Lastly, I would mention a very real yet immeasurable factor in healing - your attitude. it is so apparent in my office, that those patients with a positive and healthy outlook on life simply heal faster! Stress and worry are intangible factors, but they do make a marked difference. This, of course, is nothing I can teach a patient. What I can do and feel it is my obligation is to make sure that the patient is nothing but comfortable and informed regarding an upcoming procedure. Moreover, that I am available to see and or talk to a patient regarding any concerns after surgery.

Amiya Prasad, MD
New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

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Quick Recovery after Eyelid Surgery

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Eyelid surgery can be one of the most straightforward recoveries in facial plastic surgery. Typically there is some redness in the eyelid area which improved over the first 3-4 days. If the surgery is done carefully and proper preoperative precautions are taken (avoiding any blood-thinning medications like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Fish oil, Vitamin E, taking Arnica Montana and Bromelain starting one week before surgery), it is rare to see excessive bruising or black eyes. It is extremely important to start icing your eyes immediately after surgery and to continue for the first 2-3 days after. Typically, I remove most of my stitches 4-5 days after surgery with the last stitches coming out 1 week after surgery. At that point, most patients are fine to return to work. If there is any redness in the incision, a concealer may be used for camouflage.

Gregory J. Vipond, MD, FRCSC
Inland Empire Facial Plastic Surgeon

Eyelid surgery recovery

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I have done well over 1500 blepharoplasties.  Most patients take 1 week off from work.  Most of the swelling and black and blue are resolved by that point.  I have patients not do any strenuous activity for the first 2 weeks after surgery.  The recovery is not painful or difficult.  I have patients put iced saline pads on their eyelids for the first 36 hours while awake and use antibiotic ointments and drops.   I also have patients sleep with their heads elevated on a few pillows for the first 5 days after surgery.  It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul.  The appearance of the eyes are very important as the eyes show the first signs of aging.  Blepharoplasty can make a huge difference and often gives a huge bang for the buck.

Jonathan Pontell, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 110 reviews

The good news is that 2 weeks should be plenty of time for recovery

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The good news is that 2 weeks should be plenty of time for recovery sufficient to return to work. For lower eyelid surgery, the most common approach I use is known as the transconjunctival approach. Using this approach, the incision is made on the inside of the eyelid so that there is no visible scar at all from this surgery. However, bruising will often occur with lower eyelid surgery but is usually resolved within 7-10 days. Any minor residual bruising can be easily covered with makeup. With the upper eyelids, a fine scar is created, in the natural crease that occurs just above the eyelash margin. Any stitches placed are removed in 5-7 days. Any bruising that may occur is usually resolved within 7-10 days. The scar in this location is so well hidden by the natural crease here that once the sutures are removed and the bruising has resolved, it’s difficult to detect any further wound healing. If you’d like hear and see more about the healing process from a patient’s perspective, go to the home page of my website drMMacdonald.com and click the link to “patient experience blog” in which a patient of mine chronicles her day-by-day healing for 10-14 days following eyelid surgery. 

Michael R. Macdonald, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Blepharoplasty recovery

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Eyelid surgery has become one of my most popular procedures. If excess upper
eyelid skin is hooding the eye and needs to be eliminated, an incision is made
in the crease at the top of the lid and excess fat and skin are removed. The
incisions are closed and sutured on the underside of the skin. If undereye
puffiness and dark circles need to be eliminated, an incision is made along the
lower lashes that will be almost invisible when it heals. Next, the fat below is
either removed or redistributed and the saggy and crepey excess skin is then
pulled up and cut off. The incisions are closed with tiny sutures, which are
removed in four to six days. The incisions are along your eyelash line, making
it a virtually scarless procedure.

Typically patients take about a week off from work, however you can be doing daily work and activities as long as it’s not strenuous. Upon waking, you will need someone to take you home because the ointment in your eyes may blur your vision, which you will continue applying for the first few days. To help minimize bruising, keep your head up postoperatively and plan on wearing dark sunglasses for a few days. You may also find that the eyes don't close completely for a few days, but drops can ease the dryness. Overall, patients feel that the recovery moves along rather quickly!

Michelle Copeland, MD, DMD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Recovery after eyelid surgery

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Recovering from eyelid surgery is much easier than you might expect. You will feel pretty good almost immediately. Eyelid surgery is really not a painful procedure. In my practice, stitches come out in 5 days. You can expect a little bruising though it can usually be covered with makeup within one week of surgery. While there may still be some swelling resolving you will look good at one week after surgery. If you have bruising you might need as long as 4-6 weeks for the marks to completely go away, though again, you should be able to hide them with makeup.

There are different techniques for eyelid surgery. Your recovery will depend upon the technique used, amount of bruising, and your body's ability to heal. In general, you can be back in the swing of things within one week of surgery, though you may still have some swelling and bruising. At two weeks nearly all patients will look good enough to be in public without feeling self-conscious.

I hope this info helps!

Adam Rubinstein, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Recovery Time After Eyelid Surgery

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Every patient heals differently and the amount of bruising and swelling varies.

To minimize bruising, be sure to eliminate any blood thinners (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, herbal supplements and vitamins) for at least 14 days before surgery.

Head elevation, avoiding any straining and ice mask all help with recovery.

For Upper Blepharoplasty,  I suggest that my patients take 5-7 days off from work. Suture removal is typically  5-7 days following surgery.

For Lower Blepharoplasty, I suggest 7-10 days off from work.

It is important to follow your surgeons pre and post operative instructions in order to heal properly and minimize prolonged recovery.


Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Recovery time from blepharoplasty

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Most patients look presentable after one week and quite good after two weeks.  The eyelid area is very fragile and bruises easily but the bruising usually resolves quite rapidly.  The most important factors are for patients to be off any medication that causes bruising or bleeding, to maintain a nice low blood pressure during and after surgery (using medication is necessary), keeping ice water packs on the area for the first 2 days and nights and really taking it easy.  Blepharoplasty does not hurt very much postoperatively and many patients really overdue it and result can be more and prolonged bruising.  I tell my patients to rent some books on tape and just veg out for a few days.  

Lisa Lynn Sowder, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.