Ice Vs Heat Post-blepharoplasty or Fat Transfer?

What is the evidence, if any, on when and how to use ice or heat after a blepharoplasty and fat tranfer?

Doctor Answers 10

Ice after eyelid surgery

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Either ice packs or gauze soaked in ice water compresses works the best in reducing swelling and bruising.

Ice vs Heat Post Blepharoplasty or Fat Transfer

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I recommend that my patients use cool compresses foe 48 hours after a blepharoplasty or fat transfer to minimize swelling, decrease congestion, and control circulation. I do not use heat in this situation. 

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Ice Vs Heat Post-blepharoplasty or Fat Transfer?

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In my practice I recommend ice for 2 to 3 days followed by warm compresses if needed. Best to discuss with your chosen surgeon. 

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Ice vs heat following blepharoplasty

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No matter what others are recommending, you should ultimately follow the advice of your surgeon. With that in mind, following blepharoplasty, cool packs will help to reduce the swelling to the area; heat does the opposite. You also need to be careful both with heat and ice, as you can burn your skin due to the numbness or freeze it with ice and also cause significant injury. 


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I like patients to use cold compresses with frozen pea bags after eyelid surgery. As for fat grafting it is a toss up for my practice. You should ask your doctor what he prefers.

Cold compress for the bleharoplasty but not for the fat grafting

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The use of the cold compress(not ice) is indicated for the eyelid surgery to control the swelling. There are new information that cold compress is not a good idea post fat grafting. The zeltiq is using the concept that cold causing the fat cells to shrink. I do not use Zeltiq and  I do not apply cold compress post fat grafting based on the science behind the Zeltiq.

Ice Vs Heat Post-blepharoplasty or Fat Transfer?

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Post Blepharoplasty and fat transfer, Ice should be applied to decrease the bloodflow and resulting edema/swelling to the area.  The difference between ice, that decreases blood flow to tissues and heat that increase blood flow to tissues would depend on whether you are trying to eliminate swelling or not.  Clearly after Eyelid Surgery, it's beneficial to decrease swelling and hence ice therapy is indicated.

The plastic and cosmetic surgeon or occuloplastic surgeon that does your eyelid surgery will give you specific post eyelid surgery, fat transfer instructions.  FYI, IMHO fat transfer is not as reliable as office the shelf fillers like Perlane and Radiesse or Cheek and Chin Implants.  Just food for thought.

Ice for Three Days after Blepharoplasty

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I recommend that my patients use ice for the first three days after blepharoplasty.  This will increase your comfort level and also decrease the amount of bruising and swelling you will experience.  Another useful tip is to try to sleep with your head elevated (with a second pillow or in a reclining chair) for the first few days.

After the first three days, I tell my patients to begin warm compresses.

Michael McCracken, MD
Lone Tree Oculoplastic Surgeon

Postop ice packs

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Ice or cold packs can reduce swelling in the postoperative period. It is important to apply these for at least 72 hours, which is the point when swelling reaches its peak. In terms of how to apply cold packs, my staff swears by frozen baby peas and corn, which will conform to the shape of your face and remain cold longer then gel packs.


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Do not use heat, Ice for the first 48-72 hours will decrease swelling and bruising. Heat can burn operative sites.

Follow your doctors advise and post operative instructions

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

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.