Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty) Recovery Timeline

If you are considering upper or lower eyelid surgery (Blepharoplasty), or double eyelid surgery (AKA “Asian Blepharoplasty”), it is critical to understand the recovery process and how to look after yourself after surgery. Knowing your post op recovery timeline will help you to speed the healing process and get the best results.

Day One - First 24 Hours Post-Op

In most cases, your eyelid surgery will be performed as an outpatient, so when your anesthesia wears off you will be able to return home or to your hotel room. Your vision will be blurry and your eyes may be covered in gauze so you will need to have someone to drive you, or alternatively, our office will organize someone to accompany you.

As with most facial plastic surgery, in these first 24 hours it’s important to avoid any excessive physical activity and take bed rest with head elevated while sleeping. Using two firm pillows or a large wedge-shaped pillow is ideal. Try not to turn your head too much to either side and sleep on your back in a propped-up position.

Your eyelids may feel tight and swollen. Ideally, the cool gauze should be worn over the eyes off and on for three days post op.

Use eye drops or ointment as directed by your surgeon. Any discomfort can be treated with over-the-counter pain relief such as Tylenol. You may also want to use a lightweight cold compress such as an eye-shaped cooling pack, or frozen corn or peas in a clean and sterile plastic bag applied to the eyelids.

Your First Week Post-Op

In this first week there will be some puffiness or swelling around the eyes. This is completely normal and part of the post op healing process, and should subside within 7-10 days. The incisions around your eyes may be pink and quite visible, and your eyelids may feel numb for several days.

Your eyes may also be watery, dry, and sensitive to light. You may also experience some tenderness and bruising around the eyes resulting in a “black eyed” appearance.

Some recommended tips for reducing the swelling around your eyes include:

  • Sleep elevated on two pillows
  • Use ice and cold compresses – especially in first few days
  • Avoid wearing contacts for this first week but glasses are okay
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids, but avoid alcohol
  • Eat a light healthy food that is low in salt
  • Rest, rest, and more rest

You may also experience some double vision or blurriness a few days post op. Wear dark sunglasses during this period particularly if you’re going outdoors.

The Next Few Months...

Typically our patients take at least a week or two off of work. If you can take more time off we recommend it, but at least two weeks rest is ideal. This gives you time to get back into your normal routine at your own pace and avoid any unnecessary stress.

During these first few weeks we recommend avoiding excessive screen time that may dry the eyes, such as computer or smartphone use, too much TV, or reading on an iPad.

Avoid running, gym, swimming, or any strenuous exercise for at least the first 2 weeks. Also avoid bending or lifting — both of these movements increase blood flow to the eyes. Light stretches may be okay, but avoid putting your head below your heart and stay upright.

After two weeks you can start to wear light makeup and contact lenses again. Sunglasses should still be worn outside to protect your eyes against harsh sunlight or wind.

After about six weeks you will start to see the final result of your eyelid surgery. At this stage, some very mild residual swelling may still be visible as the delicate tissues and muscles around the eye adjust to the surgery. At this point you will start to see your eyes in a new light. They will begin to appear rejuvenated, younger, and refreshed — your patience rewarded with the positive benefits of the surgery and careful recovery period.

For more information about eyelid surgery: