Eyelid Surgery

PlasticSurgery.com Staff Report © 2005-2009

With the passing of time, our eyes can take on a puffy, droopy, and aged look – making the eyes appear tired and worn. Yet, some patients have inherited traits that cause them to seek treatment as early as their 20s or 30s. Eyelid surgery, which is also referred to as "blepharoplasty," offers a surgical means of turning back the clock and restoring a more youthful and defined look to the eyes. It may correct drooping eyelids and remove puffy bags surrounding the eyes. Additionally, in some cases, eyelid surgery may actually improve the patient’s vision by removing excess fat and tissue from the patient’s field of vision.

Eyelid Surgery

Eyelid surgery may be performed as an individual procedure, although it is frequently done in conjunction with other plastic surgery procedures, such as a facelift or a forehead lift or Botox. It is important to note that while the effects of eyelid surgery may dramatically enhance the appearance of the eyes, it is not designed to eliminate wrinkles (i.e., "crow’s feet"), dissolve dark circles surrounding the eyes, or correct sagging eyebrows. These conditions are better treated though other plastic surgery treatments and procedures.

Given the dramatic effects attainable through eyelid surgery, more and more people are opting for this form of plastic surgery. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), nearly a quarter million eyelid surgery procedures were performed in the United States in 2004, making it one of the top procedures among men and women.

While the information contained on this Web site will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure, when considering eyelid surgery, we recommend that you consult a plastic surgeon with experience in performing eyelid surgery.

Reasons To Have Eyelid Surgery

As with any plastic surgery procedure, the best patients for eyelid surgery include those who are seeking general improvement – not perfection. Ideal candidates for eyelid surgery are men and women who:

  • Want to improve the appearance of baggy or have droopy eyelids
  • Have realistic expectations
  • Are physically healthy
  • Are psychologically stable
  • Are at least 35 years old

Additionally, the best candidates for eyelid surgery are those with no known ophthalmic conditions such as glaucoma, detached retina, etc. The above criteria may not be comprehensive. Be sure to discuss your options with a doctor to learn if you are an ideal candidate for eyelid surgery.

"The best patients for eyelid surgery include those who are seeking general improvement – not perfection"

Choosing an Eyelid Surgeon and Facility

When selecting a plastic surgeon to perform eyelid surgery, you should consider someone who is experienced in this procedure. In choosing a qualified doctor, complications are likely to be infrequent and minor. Eyelid surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis, although it may be performed in a surgeon’s office-based facility, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. Blepharoplasty is usually performed under local anesthesia – which numbs the area around your eyes – along with oral or intravenous sedatives, although some surgeons prefer to use general anesthesia. On PlasticSurgery.com, you can choose from a variety of doctors in your area who are skilled in this procedure.

The Eyelid Surgery Procedure

Depending on the extent of work to be done, eyelid surgery typically requires one to three hours to perform. The typical eyelid surgery entails the plastic surgeon making incisions in the natural lines of the eyelids. If a patient is having all four eyelids done, the surgeon will probably work on the upper lids first, and then move on to the lower ones.

These surgical incisions are placed within the creases of the upper eyelids and directly below the eyelashes in the lower lids. Once these incisions are made, the plastic surgeon separates the skin and removes the excess fat, tissue and muscle. Following the removal of all excess tissues, the incisions are sutured together in an effort to expedite the healing process.

"Nearly a quarter milion eyelid surgery procedures were performed in the United States in 2004, making it one of the top procedures among men and women"

However, in those blepharoplasty cases where lower eyelid fat is being removed, and no skin is being displaced, the plastic surgeon may elect to use a technique referred to as a "transconjunctival blepharoplasty." With this type of eyelid surgery, the surgical incision is placed within the interior of the lower eyelid resulting in no visible scar.

Possible Risks and Complications

Risks and complications will always be associated with plastic surgery, even amongst the experience of a board certified plastic surgeon. The risks associated with eyelid surgery may include:

  • Temporary blurred or double vision
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling at the corners of the eyelids
  • Dry eyes
  • Formation of whiteheads
  • Slight asymmetry in healing or scarring
  • Difficulty in closing eyes completely (rarely permanent)
  • Pulling down of the lower lids (may require further surgery)
  • Blindness (extremely rare)

Eyelid Surgery Recovery

Following eyelid surgery, the plastic surgeon will lubricate the eyes with ointment in an effort to reduce dryness and the possibility of infection. The surgical incisions will initially be red and somewhat bumpy. However, the resulting scar should quickly become flat and inconspicuous. The resulting swelling and discoloration should dramatically subside within seven to ten days following eyelid surgery.

After Eyelid Surgery

It is not uncommon for eyelid surgery patients to experience blurred vision for the first few days following surgery. Furthermore, the eyes may be sensitive to light and may experience excess tearing and redness. During the first week following eyelid surgery, it is important that the patient avoid activities that may dry and aggravate the eyes. Actions such as reading, watching television, wearing contacts, using a computer, and excessive blinking should be avoided until instructed by your plastic surgeon.


Eyelid surgery has the effect of making you look more rested, refreshed and alert. But healing is a gradual process, so patients should expect to wait at least several weeks to get an accurate picture of the results. Scars can remain slightly pink for several weeks after surgery, but the incisions will fade over a number of months until they become barely visible. Your surgeon’s eyelid surgery before and after photo gallery will help in giving you an idea of what to expect as your final results.

The results of blepharoplasty are long-lasting to permanent, but may be affected by a person’s heredity and lifestyle.

Other Information

As with most plastic surgery procedures, the typical costs associated with eyelid surgery vary significantly. In considering the cost of blepharoplasty, keep in mind that plastic surgeon fees within various regions may vary, depending on whether the surgical practice is in an urban, suburban or rural area. The national average fee covers the plastic surgeon’s fee only and does not include costs for the surgical facility, anesthesia, medical tests, prescriptions, or any other miscellaneous costs related to eyelid surgery. A comprehensive cost figure for eyelid surgery may be obtained while consulting with your plastic surgeon.

In an effort to make eyelid surgery more affordable and available, many plastic surgeons offer a variety of financing options.