In most instances, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) is a minimally invasive procedure that is performed to correct certain aesthetic or functional abnormalities of the eyelids. The benefits of this type of procedure are great. However, with eyelid surgery, as with all surgeries, the inherent side effects and risks must be weighed while considering if the procedure is right for you. Most side effects associated with eyelid surgery are temporary, but permanent impairment must always be a realistic concern.
Blepharoplasty Side Effects
Eyelid surgery results in some common side effects that patients can expect to experience following the procedure. Typically, these side effects are short in duration and treatable in terms of alleviating any associated discomfort. In the following sections, you can read about the degree of post-operative pain to be expected, as well as the likelihood and treatment of any swelling or scarring that might occur as a result of the blepharoplasty procedure.
Though eyelid surgery is a minimally invasive procedure, there is some pain associated with the post-operative recovery phase. The severity of the pain will likely depend on the skill of the surgeon and the health of the patient. Following eyelid surgery, your eyelids will most likely feel sore and tight while the anesthesia is wearing off. Medication prescribed by your physician may be used to lessen the intensity of the pain and alleviate discomfort. Some patients have described the post-operative pain associated with blepharoplasty as mostly uncomfortable, but not extreme, similar to that of a sunburn or windburn.
Following eyelid surgery, swelling is likely to occur around the incision areas. Cold compresses or iced eye pads can be used to minimize swelling. Be careful when applying compresses or pads so as not to rupture the incisions. Swelling can also be reduced by keeping the head elevated as much as possible. Any swelling that does occur may result in blurry vision for several days after the procedure.
Avoiding excessive blinking as well as strenuous activities that increase blood flow to the eyes can help to reduce or even prevent extreme swelling. Simple ice compresses placed over the eyes can assist as well.
The skill of the facial plastic surgeon will likely play a factor in determining the amount of scarring that occurs following the blepharoplasty procedure. More skilled surgeons are able to keep scarring to a minimum. While some degree of scarring should be expected following eyelid surgery, most scars will fade over time and become inconspicuous to the casual observer.
Some patients believe that applying aloe vera or vitamin E after the sutures are removed can reduce scarring. Application of these creams must be done carefully to avoid damage to the wounds.
Potential Eyelid Surgery Complications
As with all surgeries, eyelid surgery comes with risks and potential complications that vary in severity. The most severe of these complications include ectropian, hematoma, and retinal detachment.
- Ectropian is a drooping effect that causes the lower lid to invert, requiring additional surgery to correct.
- Hematoma is an even more serious complication involving blood accumulation beneath the skin. Hematoma is more likely to occur when eyelid surgery is performed in conjunction with another facial cosmetic surgery procedure such as a facelift or brow lift.
- Retinal detachment, which can be caused by holes or tears in the retina, occurs when the retina is separated from the outer layers of the eye. Retinal detachment also requires additional surgery to correct.
Additional complications can also result from eyelid surgery, including:
- Excessive tearing
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Dryness, burning of the eyes, both of which can usually be treated with artificial tear drops
- The formation of whiteheads, or milia, that appear after suture removal; typically, the surgeon can treat these post-operatively
- Difficulty keeping the eyes closed while sleeping; though temporary for most individuals, this particular complication has become permanent in others
- On occasion, individuals have also reported experiencing blurred or double vision, but in most cases, these complications subside in a few days
The likelihood of serious complications arising from the procedure is typically influenced by both the surgeon's skill as well as the patient's individual response to the eyelid surgery. Certain severe risks or complications can be avoided by cooperating fully and completely following your surgeon's instructions. With patience, a willingness to cooperate, and a qualified surgeon, the complications of eyelid surgery and any associated risks can be dramatically reduced.
Eyelid Surgery Results
Visit the DocShop gallery to view more eyelid surgery before and after photos.
Photo credit: James P. Wire, MD
Consult a Facial Plastic Surgeon in Your Area
You can learn more about the complications of eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) by speaking with a qualified surgeon. The DocShop directory of physicians can assist you in locating a professional near you who will be able to answer your questions concerning eyelid surgery risks. The most comprehensive information regarding the risks involved with any surgery will come from a trained and knowledgeable practitioner. Contact a facial plastic surgeon in your area to find out more about eyelid surgery and its risks.