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What You Should Know Before Eyelid Surgery

Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) can be performed on your upper eyelids, lower eyelids, or both. Here’s what you should know before undergoing eyelid surgery.
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Last Updated: Jul 28, 2021

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Blepharoplasty markup close-up on the face before the plastic surgery operation for modifying the eye region of the face in a medical clinic. Image/Shutterstock
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Blepharoplasty is the medical term for eyelid surgery. Eyelid surgery can be used to treat droopy eyelids. This can treat sagging skin around the eyes, though the doctor may remove fat, muscle, or skin. Eyelid surgery is the third most popular cosmetic surgery in the United States. Only liposuction and breast enhancement are more popular according to a 2013 report. But popularity isn’t reason enough to have a cosmetic procedure done. Here’s what you should know before undergoing eyelid surgery.

Why Do People Have Eyelid Surgery?

The skin around the eyes is incredibly delicate. This is why it is going to sag and droop long before the rest of the face shows signs of aging. You will often see bags under the lower eyelids, too, that make you seem perpetually tired. Eyelid surgery is one way to look younger and more energetic.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Eyelid Surgery?

Eyelid surgery is generally done to reduce the signs of aging. Good candidates for eyelid surgery already have significant bags under their eyes or have eyebrows that are sagging. The best candidates for surgery have the procedure done because these issues are literally interfering with their vision. For example, you may have trouble looking up because of hanging skin.

There are issues that increase your risk of complications, however. Chronic conditions like diabetes can affect your recovery. Smokers are at increased risk of complications as well. Your doctor may tell you to stop smoking several weeks before the surgery. If you’re at increased risk of complications, you might want to try non-surgical alternatives.

How Do You Prepare for Eyelid Surgery?

The doctor should do a thorough physical exam. This includes vision tests and tear tests. The doctor should take pictures of your eyelids and take a variety of measurements. You need to tell the doctor about any prescriptions and over-the-counter medications you’re taking. You may be asked to stop taking drugs that increase your risk of bleeding, like anticoagulants and certain pain relievers.

The eyelid surgery is done under general anesthesia. This is why you should plan on having someone else drive you home. You can prepare for the recovery period by getting things done before the surgery. For example, you could cook meals in advance and stockpile essentials so you don’t have to drive for a couple of days.

Your vision may be blurry for several days after the surgery. Light sensitivity is common as well. You cannot wear contact lenses for two weeks after the surgery. You may have to find prescription eyeglasses to wear instead.

What Does the Procedure Involve?

How is eyelid surgery performed? The surgeon typically starts on the upper eyelids, removing excess skin. They may remove excess muscle and fat, too. Some of these tissues might be moved to other areas around the eyes. The lower eyelid typically only has fat removed. This contributes to bags under the eyes. The doctor might remove a little skin there.

The doctor may recommend that you put ice packs on the eyes for the first few days after surgery. You’ll typically be able to use an over-the-counter pain reliever for the pain.

How Do I Pay for It?

If you’re having the surgery done due to vision concerns, your insurance may cover it. Otherwise, it won’t be covered by your health insurance. Talk to the doctor about how much it costs.

Eyelid surgery is one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries. However, it isn’t right for everyone, and you need to be prepared if you want to ensure a good outcome.


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