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What is the recovery after blepharoplasty? The truth revealed.

On this page Dr. Julian De Silva talks candidly about a common question that many patients ask.

Although on average after eyelid surgery 90% of my patients are back to normal in one week, the truth is that recovery after eyelid surgery does depend on several factors.

On average for facelift surgery, 90% of my patients are back to normal in two weeks. The truth is that this recovery after facelift surgery does depend on the individual person and does depend on several factors.

1) What do we mean by recovery? Different aspects of the eyelids heal at different times so what do we actually mean by recovery.

2) What are the individual factors that influence recovery?

3) What can you do to speed up your recovery?

1) What do we mean by recovery and what can I expect 1-week after surgery?

  • Bruising & Swelling. By 1-week after surgery in the upper eyelid 80-90% of the bruising and swelling will have resolved. By comparison in the lower eyelid by 2-weeks after surgery 80-90% of the bruising and swelling will have gone. Occasionally there can be a marked bruise that can take 6-weeks to go, though it can be covered with make up after 1-week. Occasionally swelling can persist for several weeks, though usually there is pre-existing medical condition.
  • Pain. In terms of pain, there is surprisingly little, and usually for less than 48 hours, more than half of my patients never take any analgesia.
  • Vision. Blepharoplasty is surgery on the eyelids and not the eye itself. Although the vision may be a little blurred as a result of eyelid swelling and using eye drops after the surgery, your vision will still be reasonably good after the surgery. Using your eyes such as watching television, using the internet or similar activities are fine and will not harm the eyes, although the eyes may feel more dry over the first week particularly. Most patients are able to use their eyes for reading and sedentary activities even the day after surgery.
  • Scars. What about the incisions, well in the upper eyelid they are in the natural crease in the skin, they reach their final endpoint 6-12 months later. Often they are discrete and difficult to see after a few weeks, there are steps that can be taken to speed up their recovery and soften their appearance., and with makeup they cannot be seen. In the lower eyelid I will hide the incisions on the inside lining of the eyelid so they are invisible.
  • Activities. Reading, computer work, these kind of low level activities can be started after a few days as they are not the same as lifting and strenuous activities that influence blood pressure and increase swelling.
  • Social activities. Most can be restarted after 1-week, there will be some residual bruising and swelling, this can be covered up with cosmetics after 1-week.
  • Exercise. as a general rule can be started between 3-4 weeks.

2) What are the factors that influence your recovery?

  • You. If you have any medical conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure these should be well controlled before surgery. Smoking delay healings and avoiding smoking both before and after surgery will speed up your recovery and improve the results. In addition your constitution two people having identical surgery will not heal in the same time, we all heal differently. Another factor is your mental attitude, cosmetic surgery can be an emotional experience for some patients, and having a positive mental attitude goes a long way towards a faster recovery.
  • Your Surgery. The type of surgery you have will influence your healing, not all blepharoplasty is the same, whether the surgery is principally on the skin, muscle or underlying fat will influence the recovery. Whether you have additional procedures such as eyelid lifting (e.g. Canthopexy), fat transfer at the same time and skin resurfacing will all effect the recovery time.
  • Your Surgeon. The way your surgeon completes the surgery, the techniques used play an important role in recovery. Dr. De Silva uses techniques that hide incisions in both the upper and lower eyelids to shorten the recovery period whenever possible. Conservative surgery reduces trauma to the eyelid tissues and influences recovery, and innovative surgical techniques can be used to reduce bleeding, such as the use of tissue glue in a patient.

3) What are things you can do to speed up recovery?

  • Before surgery there are many prescription medications and herbal medications that should be avoided both before and after surgery as they can encourage both bruising and swelling. Dr. De Silva gives all his patients detailed instructions on what should be avoided before and after surgery. In addition there are some herbal medications that should be taken to reduce bleeding, Arnica.
  • After surgery. Icing the eyelids for the first three days, in the form of ice in a zip lock bag, frozen peas or gel mask all have a beneficial effect on reducing swelling when applied to the eyelids for ten minutes every hour during waking hours. There are other factors such as resting and taking things easy during the daytime that will maintain a relatively low and stable blood pressure. Keeping your head elevated when sleeping, will also reduce bruising and swelling.
  • Surgeon’s advice. It is important to follow your surgeons ‘before’ and ‘after’ operative instructions in order to heal properly and minimize prolonged recovery.
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