Upper Blepharoplasty Despite Severe Dry Eyes?

I'm a 32 year-old male suffering from severe dry eyes, but I want to get upper Blepharoplasty done to correct very droopy lids. Is there any way this could be done, if approached carefully enough, to ensure completely that my dry eye problem will not worsen after the procedure (of course, accepting that for the first weeks it will be worse inevitably)? Any answer would be greatly appreciated.

Doctor Answers 12

Blepharoplasty, Eyelid Surgery, Beverly Hills Blepharoplasty

 I have performed Blepharoplasty for over 20 years and severe dry eye symptoms would be an absolute contra-indication for Upper Eyelid Blepharoplasty IMO.  You might consider having the severe dry eye treated first using tear duct plugs at an Opthalmologist for resolution of some of the symptoms before having Blepharoplasty.

Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Dry eye syndrome and upper eyelid surgery

Patients should be carefully evaluated for the cause of their dry eye syndrome.

Often this is done inconjunction with an opthalmologist and a plastic surgeon, particularly one who specializes in surgery of the face and midface.

If postsurgical changes from a lower eyelid surgery are to blame for a dry eye syndrome, there may be help available from a cheeklift procedure with or without canthal reconstruction. Plastic surgeons who specialize in the midface are particularly familiar with this area, and are capable of reconstructing eyelid defects from small to enormous, including entire eyelids, midfaces, microvascular reconstructions, etc.

A plastic surgeon with an artistic eye will also be able to guide you in evaluating facial proportion as a whole, including the cheeks, the eye-cheek junction, brow position, brow aesthetics and should have familarity with the many types of cheek and brow elevation procedures available. Our chapter in Mathes Plastic Surgery on the midface and brow may be helpful with some of these issues (referenced below).

There is no question that the presence of dry eye syndrome should play a role in the decision making preoperatively, but most dry eye patients are still able to have upper eyelid surgery.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

A canthoplasty to tighten the lower eyelid may help dry eyes prior to upper blepharoplasty

The standard accepted policy is that upper blepharoplasty should not be done in patients who have dry eyes.

If your lower eyelids are lax and expose an excessive area of your eyes and is contributing to the dry eye, then a canthoplasty to tighten the lower eyelid may lessen the dry eyes and make a minor upper blepharoplasty possible.

You need to see an ophthamologist, have a tear test, and get his/her opinion on the cause of your dry eyes.

If you do not have adequate tear production an upper blepharoplasty should not be done, in my opinion

Dry eyes and blepharoplasty

If your physician recommends a blepharoplasty and not a ptosis repair, your dry eyes should not be affected as long as you are able to close your eyelids after the surgery.

However, you mentioned that you have "droopy" eyelids, which suggests that you might be undergoing a ptosis repair.

John Pak, MD, PhD
Chicago Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Dry eyes and eyelid surgery

It would be wrong to try to correct  upper eyelid  looseness with a history of dry eyes.  This could only further increase the tendencies for eye corneal irritation and ulcerations.  A proper evaluation by a Plastic Surgeon or Opthalmologist could give you some guidance  about this.


Good luck.


Frank Rieger M.D.

Upper blepharoplasty despite severe dry eye

If you are going to have this procedure you must consult with your opthalmologist to determine the actual severity of the problem and whether anything else might be done to improve the condition, in my opinion. Punctal plugs, Restasis, Omega 3s, and other measures are often helpful for dry eye problems. Very conservative upper blepharoplasty can often be performed, but it may be prudent not to have muscle excised, as this will slow the blink reflex for awhile and will likely aggravate the dry eye symptoms, at least temporarily. Likewise, skin excision should be more conservative than usual, and your surgeon should save the skin in sterile saline afterwards for at least 6 weeks; it can be replaced if lagopthalmos or dry eye symptoms mandate. Good luck

Harrison C. Putman III, MD
Peoria Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Dry eyes can be aggravated by upper blepharoplasty surgery

It is common for plastic surgeons to ask about dry eyes when contemplating doing upper blepharoplasty surgery on patients. I do agree that it is a relative contraindication and you need to balance your desire to have the surgery with the knowledge that it may make your condition worse. A quantification of the degree of the problem should be reviewed with a Schirmers test as well as the opinion of your opthalmologist regarding having the surgery done.

Richard D. Gentile, MD
Youngstown Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

No gurantee but...

Dry eyes is a common problem mostly in women in their late 40's and 50's. Blepharoplasty,particularly lower, can worsen the problem, especially if the have a negative vector. Upper lid bleph holds less risk as long as no lacrimal gland manipulation is done.

So no 100% guarantee but it can be done without worsening your condition.

Christopher L. Hess, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Not possible to "ensure completely" that you won't be worse

It should be possible to perform an upper blepharoplasty without worsening your symptoms as long as lid closure isn't compromised at all.  But this cannot be guaranteed unfortunately. 

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Dry eye is only a relative contraindication to eyelid surgery.

Dear Christopher

Dry eye syndrome is very common. It is not a reason to avoid eyelid surgery unless there is an exceptional circumstance. Among eyelid surgeons, only fellowship trained eye plastic surgeons are prepared to manage a dry eye and design eyelid surgery for you that is appropriate for your degree of dry eye. Dry eye needs to be actively managed and supported following eyelid surgery. If surgery is properly done, then once the eyes are healed eye comfort should return to its per-operative state. This might take 6 to 8 weeks.

Commonly after aggressive eyelid surgery, the muscle that closes the eye can be damaged or too much skin can be removed making it difficult to close the eyelids. However, these type of complications are associated with aggressive blepharoplasty. Until you have been assessed by a surgeon, you do not know exactly what you need. You may have a heavy upper eyelid fold that would benefit from upper blepharoplasty or a forehead lift, or you might have an actual fall in the eyelid margin, which is called upper eyelid ptosis. Upper eyelid ptosis requires a different type of surgery where the tendon of the muscle that raises the upper eyelid is shortened.

It is worth your while to seek out a fellowship trained eye plastic surgeon who is also board certified in ophthalmology. ASORPS.org maintains a website with a referral resource by location to help you find eye plastic surgeons in your area. This type of surgeon will be able to diagnose your droop eyelid problem and manage your dry eye without having to see a lot of different specialists.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 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.