blepharoplasty guide

Insider's Guide to

Chapter 34

Do's and Don'ts After Surgery 


Note: This sample is provided only to acquaint you with the general nature of care typically required after most routine cosmetic eyelid operations.

It is not intended to replace, supplement, clarify, or contradict your own surgeon's advice. Seek all guidance from your own doctor and follow only his or her instructions and advice.

On the Afternoon and Evening of Surgery

• You should rest as much as possible, preferably in bed or in a recliner. A bandage over the eyes is not necessary. In the evening, you may take a bath if someone is there to help you. Avoid straining or bending over. Watching television is acceptable.

• To prevent swelling, apply clean cold compresses to the eyelids as much as possible until you go to sleep. Gauze pads or a clean towel may be soaked in a basin of ice cubes and applied directly. Alternatively, a large Ziploc bag may be partially filled with ice cubes or a bag of frozen peas may be placed over a moist gauze or towel. Commercially-available gel-filled vinyl masks may also be used.

• Pain after surgery is usually mild and able to be controlled with Tylenol. Avoid using aspirin or ibuprofen for two days. Severe pain should be reported immediately.

• If your stomach is not upset, you may resume your normal diet immediately. If you do feel some nausea, limit your first meal to liquids such as soup or juice.

• It is normal for the eyelids to become red, swollen, and bruised. A small amount of bloody fluid draining from the wound is normal for a even as long as a week. Occasionally, the eye may turn red and swell. Brisk bleeding not responsive to sitting up and applying pressure should be reported.

• If you were given an antibiotic ointment, gently apply a small amount to any stitches before going to bed, and then twice a day thereafter. Use a clean fingertip rather than a dry Q-tip, which may leave behind cotton in the stitches. If your eye feels irritated, the ointment may be applied directly to the eye surface. If you have no stitches (lower lid surgery done through the back of the eyelid), it is not necessary to use an ointment. (Note: Some doctors prescribe antibiotic eye drops instead of ointment.)

Beginning the Next Morning

• Swelling usually reaches its maximum on the morning after surgery, while bruising may increase slightly for several more days. Slight bleeding coming from the incision is not uncommon, especially with increased activity.

• Discontinue the cold and begin warm compresses (using gauze or a clean washcloth) for several minutes three times a day (Note: Some doctors recommend continuation of cold compresses for several days.). A microwave may be used to heat a moistened washcloth (be careful not to overheat) or a gel pad made for this purpose.

• Moderate activity may be resumed, although much bending and straining should be avoided for three days. Moderate exercise (normal walking) may be resumed in three days. Avoid vigorous exercise (jogging) for ten days and swimming for three weeks.

• Reading or computer work may be difficult due to swelling and some slight blurring of your vision, but such activities are not harmful to your surgery.

• Keep the incisions clean by gently cleansing with moistened Q-tips or gauze. If water alone is not sufficient, a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide diluted half and half with water may be used. If bleeding is activated, apply pressure.

• You may shower and wash your hair, but try to avoid getting soap in the incision.

Later Instructions and Information

• Cleaning the sutures or the incision may set off bleeding. Warm compresses are usually adequate to remove mucus but do not pick at crusts or surface clots.

• It is not unusual for some of the sutures to untie or break after several days. As long as the incision remains closed, this is seldom a cause for worry.

• Sutures are removed four to six days after surgery. Do not apply the ointment on the morning of your return visit since it can interfere with suture removal.

• After the sutures have been removed, use the ointment that evening at bedtime and then discontinue. Warm compresses should be used at least once a day (and more if you wish) for three or four more days.

• It is not unusual for the eyelids not to close fully during the first three weeks after surgery. During the day, the use of any over-the-counter artificial tear preparation (such as Murine, Hypotears, Tears Naturale, etc.) may be soothing. At night, a lubrication ointment (such as Lacrilube, Duolube, etc.) may be placed directly on the eye, although this is usually unnecessary.

• After three days, the light application of a concealer make-up to the upper cheek area may help to camouflage any bruising. Do not apply directly to the eyelids. Regular eyelid cosmetics may be resumed after ten days.

• Most patients look the worst on the second or third day, after which time the improvement is rapid. Most bruising and swelling is gone by two weeks, although a small amount will remain behind for at least several months.

• Contact lens wear may be resumed in one week.

• The incision may turn red, slightly elevated, or bumpy in the weeks following surgery. The scar will then continue to fade and soften for about six months.

• The incision may feel slightly tender for a few months. Itching is common. Any tight feeling or eyelash numbness will disappear over several months.

• Do not try to evaluate the success of your surgery during your early recovery. Imbalances between the two sides are common at first due to different degrees of swelling and variable rates of recovery. Full healing of any incision on the body can take six to nine months.

• If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call your doctor.

Next: Healing After Eyelid Surgery


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