What is the recovery after blepharoplasty eyelid surgery?
A common question I get asked is, what is the recovery time for eyelid surgery also known as blepharoplasty? Well, on average the great majority of my patients are back to normal activities within a week after surgery. However, the truth is that there is a significant amount of individual variability in terms of recovery. And really this can be thought about in 3 different ways. And firstly what do we actually mean by recovery, because different parts of the eyelids recover at different time points. Secondly, what are the individual factors that influence recovery? And finally, what can you do to speed up the recovery process? So we take the first of those elements.
So what do we mean by recovery? Well, common things such as bruising and swelling, well 80% to 90% of the bruising and swelling will have disappeared in the first week. And when we’re looking at upper eyelid surgery and upper blepharoplasty, the majority of patients can go back to social activities, and professional activities within a 1-week time point. However, with lower eyelid surgery, the recovery is slightly slower, and 80% to 90% will go in the first week. A further 80 to 90% will go the second week.
The majority of patients can really go back to their normal activities within a 2 week period. At that point, most of the swelling will have gone. Most of the bruising will have gone. With bruising, there are certain parts of the eyelids that are particularly prone to bruising. Just below the lower eyelids is the thinnest skin in the entire human body. And a bruise here which can happen about 10% to 20% of the time, a bruise here can really last for a 6 week period.
It can be covered with makeup after a 1 week period. In terms of swelling, well the great majority of swelling resolves in the first couple of weeks. However on occasion, particularly with the lower eyelids, there can be more persistent swelling, and that can last for several weeks. And usually, that can be a pre-existing condition that may be causing this, but sometimes it could just happen. In terms of pain, well the great majority of patients have very minimal pain after eyelid surgery. The majority of my patients and more than half of my patients do not take any analgesics after surgery. However, if you do have some discomforts and ache, that would usually resolve within a 48 period of time, 48 hour period.
It’d be unusual to need any analgesia after that. In terms of dryness, well most patients don’t have so much dryness after eyelid surgery. But occasionally, particularly if you’re prone to dry eyes, having eyelid surgery, having swelling can increase the feeling of dryness. Usually, that will last for just a few weeks and taking tear lubricants will help with that. And ultimately it’s also the surgical technique that is used, and a conservative approach that preserves the eyelid tissues, and the muscle beneath the eyelid skin. Usually, it preserves your blinking, and really limits the amount of dryness that you have.
In terms of activities, well in terms of reading, in terms of using the internet, watching television, really you can do these after several days after surgery. However, in terms of lifting things, more strenuous activity, it’s very important for the first week to 2 weeks to take things very easy. Anything that could potentially increase your blood pressure should be avoided completely. And this is because if your blood pressure is going up and down, you’ll have a tendency to get more bruising and swelling, which will delay your healing.
In terms of your vision, well your vision should be pretty good even after the surgery, day 1. And this is because the surgery is only on the eyelid. It’s not actually on your eyes. And it’s fair to say that sometimes you can have some bruising and swelling, and putting in the eye drops can also blur the vision. But still, you’ll be able to see clearly and functioning and be able to read and watch television, and do those normal activities. In terms of exercises, well in terms of returning to exercise, it does depend on the type of surgery you’ve had.
Generally speaking, you need to take things easy for 2 weeks after surgery, and you can start doing a regular activity, aerobic and anaerobic activity 3 to 4 weeks after having surgery. So now let’s look at what are the individual factors that influence healing. Well, there is no doubt that if you have a pre-existing medical condition such as diabetes, this can delay healing, and if you have a condition like this it’s very important to control it before having surgery. In addition to that if you smoke I highly advocate stopping smoking, because that will definitely improve your results after surgery.
In terms of your constitution, well all of us have an independent, individual constitution. And 2 people having identical operations will heal differently because of that constitution. Another element to this is your attitude. And having a positive mental attitude goes a long way towards having a speedy recovery, and a pleasurable experience. In minority of patients will have an emotional rollercoaster of a ride after cosmetic surgery. If you have a positive mental attitude, this goes a long way towards speeding up your recovery.
The other element is the type of surgery that you have. And the surgery that I use is highly conservative, and based around using hidden incisions, and speeding up recovery wherever possible. And I use novel innovation techniques such as endoscopic, 3D telescopes, and tough fiber tissue glue, all of which are designed to speed up your recovery.
In terms of what you can do to speed up your recovery, well firstly there are things that you can both before and after surgery that will reduce the amount of bruising and swelling that you have. And I give my patients very detailed information on what medications, what herbal medications are best avoided before and after surgery, and because these can thin the blood and increase the amount of bruising and swelling that you have. After the surgery, it’s very important to do some form of icing. And this can be in the form of ice in a Ziploc bag, in form of peas, or as a gel mask across the eyelids.
All of these used for 10 minutes every hour for the first 3 days will remarkably reduce the amount of bruising and swelling and speed up your recovery. There are other factors that can be involved, such as sleeping with your head elevated. All of these I give my patients detailed instructions on what to do. I think the final element I would suggest is that your surgeon will give very detailed information, and it’s important to heed to that information because it’s for your benefit. And also it will speed up your recovery, and give you a more pleasant experience in the recovery period.