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Relax. There's a lot going on.


Topic 34 - 1
Instructions After Blepharoplasty:
On the Afternoon and Evening of Surgery

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34: Short-term recovery
- That afternoon & evening
- Beginning the next morning
- Later instructions
- Reducing swelling
- Best artificial tears
- Eye drops & ointment
- Hot & cold compresses
- Avoiding premature exercise

35: Intermediate-term healing
- Is this ever going to heal?
- Help! My swelling is getting worse
- Help! My lashes went numb
- Healing photos 1
- Healing photos 2
- Healing photos 3
- Eyelid scar healing photos
- OTC healing and snake oil
- Modulation of recent wounds

experiencing eyelid surgeryblepharoplasty healing and recovery

"When I buy a camera, I have no tolerance for the instructions. I'm ready to make some mistakes using it and get some bad pictures back until I've figured it out for myself."

-- Sean Penn

Recovery and Healing Are Different

Although the terms healing and recovery are often used interchangeably, they do not describe the same processes.

Just as a "recovery room" is a place where a patient is taken to get over the immediate effects of anesthesia and bodily upset after having undergone an operation, recovery time after blepharoplasty is that interval between the end of surgery until about a week or so out during which the eyelids and face are responding to the immediate trauma of the procedure.

Healing, on the other hand, is a much more gradual process during which the superficial and deep tissues and wounds develop strength, mature, and finally soften. Full healing after blepharoplasty can take up to a full year or longer.

While there may be some overlap, Module 34 is devoted to early surgical recovery while Modules 35 through 39 focus more on the progression to a final result.

What may work fine for Mr. Penn's new camera or iPhone does not work well for eyelid surgery. Following your doctor's instructions is crucial because winging it may get you far more than a few bad pictures.

Surprisingly, there are patients who don't follow their postoperative directions or follow only some of them and then wonder why their eyelids are not healing the way they should. The first few days after surgery are critical to both safety and cosmetic outcome.

While exact instructions will vary procedure to procedure and surgeon to surgeon, the pages that follow provide a comprehensive example.

pillows for recovery

• Once back at home, you should rest as much as possible, preferably in bed with your head propped up on a few pillows or in a recliner. A bandage over the eyes is not necessary.

• Avoid straining, bending over, reaching down, or coughing, all of which may generate a sudden spike in blood pressure and initiate dangerous bleeding. The surgical wound is especially vulnerable during the first six hours after surgery.

• Avoid rubbing your eyes or pulling on the incisions.

• Watching television or using a computer is acceptable.

• To help limit 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. If you were given a stronger narcotic to take home, use it sparingly and only if needed. Severe pain should be reported.

While local anesthesia medications wear off quickly, the effects from some drugs used in general or intravenous anesthesia may be slower to disappear.

Call your doctor immediately if you note new symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, or an irregular or rapid heart rate.

• If your stomach is . . .

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If you know what to expect,
recovery can be as easy as
lying in a bed of roses.

bed or roses

If you don't, if may
seem more like thorns.

bed of thorns

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