What is eyelid surgery?

There are many different types of eyelid surgery. These can range from minor procedures, such as the removal of small lumps on the eyelid, to more complex procedures, such as eyelid reconstruction with skin flaps and grafts.

Other common examples of eyelid surgery include blepharoplasty, ptosis repair, entropion repair or ectropion repair.

How is the procedure done?

Your surgeon will discuss the specific procedure that you require before confirming if you would like to proceed with your surgery.

Typically, most procedures take 30 to 60 minutes and are performed after a local anaesthetic is given to the affected eyelid. The local anaesthetic numbs the eyelid so you should not feel any pain during the procedure. Some patients will feel a slight pressure or a pulling sensation only.

Before your eyelid surgery

Before your surgery, please follow the advice given to you by your doctor. You should also:

  • Try to avoid eating ginger and garlic for two weeks before your procedure, as these can increase risk of bleeding during the operation.
  • Have something to eat and drink on the day of your surgery unless you are receiving sedation or a general anaesthetic. In this case, you should follow the fasting instructions given to you by your pre-operative nurse.
  • Take all your usual medications on the day of your surgery unless your surgeon has told you otherwise (for example, temporarily stopping your blood thinners).

It is fine to come to your appointment by public transport, taxi or have a friend or relative accompany you. Please do not drive to your appointment, as your vision may be temporarily blurred after the procedure, or you may require a bandage over one eye.

Risks and side-effects

The specific risks of your surgery will be discussed with you before confirming if you would like to proceed. The exact risks of surgery vary depending on the type of surgery, but generally surgery is only recommended if the anticipated benefits outweigh the risks. Please let your surgeon know if you are worried about any side effects.

After your eyelid surgery

What should I expect after surgery?

Most patients can go home on the same day. Your eye may be bandaged overnight. If it is, you can remove the bandage yourself the following day.

After surgery, your eyelids will be swollen and bruised for two to three weeks. The amount of swelling and bruising varies from person to person and depends on the procedure you have had. You can expect the swelling to increase over the first three days before starting to improve.

The wound may feel slightly sore but should not be extremely painful. You can take simple pain relief such as paracetamol. It is normal to have a small amount of oozing for the first 48 hours. Any oozing or crusting can be very gently wiped away with a cotton pad soaked in cooled boiled water.

You will be asked to come back to the clinic in one to four weeks to check your eyelids are healing well. If needed, stitches will be removed in the clinic. This is not painful.

How do I take care of the wound at home?

  • Once the bandage is removed, start applying the ointment as instructed by your nurse. It is safe for the ointment to get into your eye – in fact, this also helps to lubricate your eye, as well as the skin. It is normal to have blurred vision when the ointment is applied. The blurred vision may last over an hour each time it is applied.
  • Keep the wound dry for the first week, and away from dirty environments.
  • You can shower or bathe but avoid wetting around the eyes for the first week.
  • If your surgeon has recommended applying an ice pack to the wound, apply this at 20-minute intervals (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) for the first two days. Place a clean cloth between the ice pack and the skin. Do not apply ice directly to the skin and do not use ice if you have had skin graft surgery.
  • To minimise swelling, you should try to sleep with your head propped up on two or three pillows.

After surgery, you should avoid:

  • Rubbing your eyes 
  • Wearing eye makeup for two weeks 
  • Wearing contact lens for two weeks 
  • Bending over (head below the level of the waist), straining or heavy lifting (more than 7kg) for the first two weeks 
  • Strenuous exercise for two weeks (eg: treadmill, biking, weightlifting, yoga. Walking is fine) 
  • Swimming for four weeks.

When can I go back to work?

Ask your surgeon when it is safe for you to return to work. This will depend on the type of job you do and the procedure you have had.

Can I drive after the surgery?

Avoid driving when you have ointment in your eyes as this will blur your vision. It is usually safe to drive three to five days after surgery, but do not drive if you have any impairment to your vision.

When to seek help

You should call the ophthalmology department if you experience any of the following after your surgery:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding (blood loss of more than two tablespoons, or bleeding that does not stop even after pressure has been applied to the wound for 30 minutes).
  • The wound has come open.
  • Your eyelid becomes very red, warm to touch and tender, and/or there is pus coming from the wound. 
  • You experience loss of vision unrelated to applying the eye ointment.
  • Severe pain that is not controlled by over-the-counter painkillers.