What is blepharoplasty (eye lid surgery)?

Blepharoplasty is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin, fat and/or muscle from around the eyes to correct drooping upper eyelids and lower eyelid bags.

What does surgery involve?

Blepharoplasty can be carried out under a general anaesthetic, requiring a one night stay in hospital, or in some cases, can be performed on a day case basis.  Upper blepharoplasty can be carried out under local anaesthetic on a day case or outpatient basis.  Your surgeon will advise which anaesthetic is the most appropriate for you.

For surgery on the upper eyelids, an incision is made in the natural line/crease in the eyelid.  For surgery on the lower eyelids, an incision is made just below the eyelash line.  The resulting scars will run along the eye's natural folds, concealing them as much as possible.  Excess skin, fat and/or muscle is removed and when surgery is complete, the incisions are closed using very fine sutures.

The anaesthetist will prescribe painkillers and you should take these regularly for the first week or so.  Pain can slow down your recovery, so it is important to discuss any discomfort with the nursing staff.

It may be necessary to have a drip inserted into one of your arms in order to keep you well hydrated until you are able to drink a satisfactory amount of fluids.

You will have light dressings on your eyes and a lubricating ointment may be applied to prevent your eyes from becoming dry.  Cooling eye masks/ice packs are often used to minimise swelling.

How soon will I recover?

You are likely to experience mild pain, bruising and swelling.  Your eyes may feel tight and difficult to close when you go to sleep, however these are temporary side-affects and should subside after the first few weeks.

You will have visible scars following your surgery.  Initially red and slightly raised, scars should gradually soften and fade over the following months.  Occasionally the eyes can become watery and/or sensitive to light for a few weeks.  Some patients can experience blurred or double vision for a few days.

Avoid applying eye make-up until advised by your surgeon - this is usually a few days after removal of your sutures.

Contact lenses must not be worn for at least two weeks following surgery, and initially they may feel uncomfortable when you resume wearing them.

You must avoid strenuous exercise, heavy lifting and swimming for approximately four weeks after surgery.  You should only resume driving when you are confident that your vision is completely back to normal.

The length of time you will need to take off work will depend on your type of employment, but is usually a minimum of one week.

What are the risks involved?

Blepharoplasty is generally a very safe operation. Nonetheless, all surgery and anaesthetic have some risk associated.  Risks to all surgeries include infection, excessive bleeding, adverse reaction to anaesthetic or blood clotting.

There is a small possibility that swelling of the lower eyelid can cause it to be pulled away from the eye - an ectropion.  This usually settles on its own, but occasionally requires further surgery.

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