February 3, 2022

Eyelid Surgery Recovery Tips

Close up image of a man's blue eye.

Do you find yourself staring in the mirror and realizing that you don’t like the way your eyes look, especially your eyelids? If so, there are steps you can take to restore your youthful appearance. Upper eyelid surgery, which is also known as blepharoplasty, is one way to improve your appearance. This outpatient surgical procedure typically involves a short recovery time. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, most patients only need between 10 to 14 days to fully heal. Even though everyone’s recovery time is different, you can follow a few tips to help your recovery go smoothly.

What Can You Do Before Surgery to Prepare?

One of the best ways to prepare for your upper eyelid surgery is to take care of any responsibilities beforehand. It’s best to clear your schedule before your surgery so you can focus on your recovery and not worry about any lingering issues. Make sure you have plenty of easy-to-prepare food available and secure childcare for your younger ones if you have them. Ask someone to drive you to and from the surgery, since you won’t be able to drive afterward.

Another way to expedite healing is to avoid stress, so give yourself at least one week off from work or school. Before your surgery, have a plan set so your work or school won’t reach out to you during your recovery time. You don’t want to spend your recovery time responding to emails or phone calls and worrying about work or school issues. Instead, add songs to your playlist or download several audiobooks, since your recovery time should involve relaxing your eyes and body.

If you’re a smoker, try to stop or cut back at least six weeks before the upper eyelid surgery since your body needs time to recover cardiovascular capacity, some of which returns about a month after your last cigarette. Smoking slows down the healing process, prolonging your recovery. The chemicals in cigarettes constrict the blood vessels and reduce the blood supply needed for the healing tissues. Without adequate circulation, the tissues might die. Smoking can also increase your risk of infection directly after the surgery.

How Long Should It Take to Heal?

Image via Flickr by NIAID Licensed CC BY 2.0

After the upper eyelid surgery, you won’t look your best for a few days. Don’t worry too much about your appearance right away, because your body needs time to heal. Your eyelids will appear puffy, your incisions will be red, and the swelling around your eyes will make it look like you have a black eye. Upper eyelid bruising should decrease within one to two weeks, while bruises on the lower eyelids might take two to four weeks. Fluid retention and puffiness can cause swelling, which can last up to eight weeks.

Speak with your doctors before your upper eyelid surgery to know exactly what self-care steps are needed once you head home. That way, you can ensure you have everything on hand and won’t need someone to run to the store to pick up anything. Some of the items you’ll need include the following:

  • Cold compress. Place the cold compress on your eyelids to reduce swelling. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel for up to 20 minutes at a time each hour.
  • Eye drops. The eye drops can help prevent your eyes from drying out. You’ll receive a prescription from your doctor.
  • Gauze. If you find your incision begins to ooze while it’s healing, dab it with sterile gauze. Avoid rubbing the incision since you might damage the sutures. 
  • Ointment. Using an ointment will keep your eyes lubricated. Your doctor should prescribe an ophthalmic ointment that you’ll need to reapply several times a day for at least one week after surgery.

How Long Should You Rest After Surgery?

Getting a good night’s sleep and plenty of rest during the day is one of the best ways to accelerate your recovery because the lack of sleep can slow down wound healing. You might notice that healing takes a lot of energy, so you might feel more tired than normal. If possible, try to take naps whenever you feel the urge. Your rest time should not be a time in which you push yourself, especially if you want to heal as quickly as possible.

During those two to four weeks after your surgery, you should also avoid strenuous activity. The obvious ones you should stay away from include jogging, aerobics, and other types of intensive exercise. You should also pay attention to everyday activities that might increase the amount of pressure in your head, thus resulting in more blood in your eyes. These might include heavy lifting, bending down, or lying flat on your back.

How Long Should You Sleep on Your Back After Surgery?

For the first few days after your surgery, you want to sleep with your head raised above your chest. Try to sleep with at least two pillows under your head. It’s recommended that you sleep on your back with your head elevated for three to four weeks, since sleeping on your side can increase swelling. Sleeping on your stomach can also cause damage to your incisions.

Can You Watch TV After Surgery?

For about a week after surgery, it’s best to avoid watching television. Also, don’t check your email, scroll through your phone, or read a book during the same timeframe. All of these activities are notorious for causing your eyes to dry out, so in order to speed up recovery, try to avoid doing anything that will strain your eyes. It might take up to 10 days before you can participate in extended television watching.

Learning how to care for yourself before and after your upper eyelid surgery can help improve your recovery time. If you have any additional questions about this type of surgery or want to schedule a consultation, reach out to Northeastern Eye Institute. We have more than a dozen convenient locations scattered throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, which helps us meet the needs of people living in the area. Contact us today to see how we can help you feel better about your appearance.

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