What to expect the day of your eyelid surgery

The day of your surgery, you can expect to:

  • Talk with a preoperative nurse. The nurse will perform an exam and ensure that all needed tests are in order. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure you understand and sign the surgical consent form.
  • Remove all clothing and jewelry and dress in a hospital gown. It is a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member. Your care team will give you blankets for modesty and warmth.
  • Talk with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist about your medical history and the type of anesthesia you will have.
  • A surgical team member will start an IV.
  • The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will start your anesthesia.
  • A tube will be placed in your windpipe to protect and control breathing during general anesthesia. You will not feel or remember this or the surgery as they happen.
  • The surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This occurs throughout the surgery and recovery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and vital signs are stable.

What are the risks and potential complications of eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)?  

As with all surgeries, eyelid surgery involves risks and potential complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during surgery or recovery.

General risks of surgery 

The general risks of surgery include: 

  • Anesthesia reaction, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing 
  • Bleeding, which can lead to shock
  • Blood clot, which can travel to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke
  • Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood

Potential complications of eyelid surgery

Complications of eyelid surgery include:

  • Asymmetry within the eyelids 
  • Blurred or impaired vision, dry and irritated eyes, and excessive tearing
  • Difficulty closing your eyes
  • Emerging sutures that your doctor needs to manually remove (instead of dissolving on their own)
  • Hematoma, bleeding under the skin that leads to an accumulation of blood under the skin 
  • Lid lag, a pulling down of the lower eyelid, or ectropion, rolling of the eyelid outwards to expose the inner eyelid surface. Both lid lag and ectropion are usually temporary.
  • Pain, swelling and bruising
  • Poor wound healing 
  • Scarring
  • Temporary eyelid numbness
  • Vision loss due to bleeding behind the eye

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and: 

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before your procedure and during recovery
  • Following your doctor’s instructions after surgery. This often includes elevating your head, applying cold compresses to reduce swelling, cleaning the eye area, and using lubricating eye ointment 
  • Informing your doctor or radiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility of pregnancy
  • Stopping smoking. Smoking increases your risk of poor wound healing and may affect the aesthetic outcome.
  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or visual disturbances
  • Protecting your eyes from the sun by wearing darkly tinted sunglasses
  • Taking your medications exactly as directed
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies 

How do I prepare for my eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can improve your comfort and outcome. 

You can prepare for eyelid surgery by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history, allergies, and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Getting preoperative testing as directed. Testing will vary depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Preoperative testing may include a chest X-ray, EKG (electrocardiogram), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
  • Losing excess weight before the surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan
  • Not eating or drinking before surgery as directed. Your surgery may be cancelled if you eat or drink too close to the start of surgery because you can choke on stomach contents during anesthesia.
  • Stopping smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for just a few days can be beneficial and help the healing process.
  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), blood thinners, and vitamin and herbal treatments. Your doctor will give you instructions for taking your medications and supplements.