Eyelid Surgery | MedStar Health

Do your eyes make you look tired or unhappy regardless of how much rest you get? Or maybe you have droopy eyelids that are impairing your vision. Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, can help remove sagging skin, eyelid puffiness, and bags from under the eyes. By correcting these features, you can look younger and more vibrant and possibly improve your vision.

Eyelid surgery cannot remove crow’s feet, eliminate dark circles under your eyes, or lift sagging eyebrows, but pairing this with another facial surgery procedure, such as a brow lift or facelift, can help correct other areas of the face that you feel need attention.

Eye Lift (Blepharoplasty)

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An eye lift, or blepharoplasty, is a surgical procedure that can reduce some of the problems that develop on both the upper and lower eyelids.

Planning and recovery

What to expect

During your initial consultation, inform your surgeon if you have any allergies, take any medications (prescription or over-the-counter), or smoke. You should also provide relevant information from any recent eye exams. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to bring them along.

You and your plastic surgeon will carefully discuss your goals and expectations for this surgery. You will need to discuss whether to operate on the upper or lower eyelids or all four, whether skin, as well as fat, will be removed and whether any additional procedures are appropriate. The surgeon will explain the techniques and type of anesthesia used, the facility where the surgery will be performed and the risks and costs involved. We encourage any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.

Blepharoplasty usually takes one to three hours, depending on the extent of the surgery. Incision locations will also depend on which eyelid features are being corrected. Upper-eyelid procedures have the incision placed within the natural lines of the eyelid. The incision for lower-eyelid procedures is generally just below the lower lash line.

Another technique, the transconjunctival blepharoplasty, places the incision inside the lower eyelid, leaving no visible scar. This is generally performed on younger patients with thicker, more elastic skin. Once an incision is made, your surgeon can remove or reposition fat, tighten muscles, and remove excess skin (skin is not removed with the transconjunctival procedure). Very fine sutures or skin glue is used to close the incisions.

This surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area around your eyes, along with oral or intravenous sedatives. You will be awake during the surgery, but relaxed and insensitive to pain. If you prefer to sleep through the operation, we do offer the option of general anesthesia.

A mature adult woman looks closey at her eyes in a mirror.

Recovery after surgery

After surgery, your eyes will be lubricated with ointment and a bandage may be applied. Your eyelids may feel tight and sore as the anesthesia wears off. If you feel any severe pain, call your doctor immediately.

You will be instructed to keep your head elevated for several days and to use cold compresses to reduce swelling and bruising. For the first few weeks, you may experience excessive tearing, sensitivity to light and temporary changes to eyesight, such as blurring or double vision.

Your doctor will follow your progress very closely for the first two weeks. Any stitches will be removed a week after surgery. Once they’re out, the swelling and discoloration around your eyes will gradually subside, and you’ll start to look and feel much better.

You should be able to read or watch television after two or three days. However, you won’t be able to wear contact lenses for about two weeks. Most people feel ready to go back to work in a week to 10 days. You may wish to wear makeup to cover any remaining bruising. For several weeks, you may be sensitive to sunlight, wind, and other irritants, so you should wear sunglasses and a special sunblock made for eyelids when you go out.

Keep your activities light for three to five days after surgery and avoid strenuous activities for about three weeks. It is especially important to avoid activities that raise your blood pressure, including bending, lifting, and rigorous sports. You may also be told to avoid alcohol since it causes fluid retention.

Frequently asked questions

  • Am I a candidate for eyelid surgery?

    You may be a good candidate if:

    • You’re physically healthy
    • Your expectations are realistic
    • You understand the risks that come with surgery
    • You have not had a LASIK eye procedure in the six months before surgery
    • You’re unhappy with the appearance of your eyelids or have trouble seeing because of drooping eyelids

    Most patients are 35 or older, but if droopy, baggy eyelids run in your family, you may decide to have surgery at a younger age.

  • What are the risks?

    As with any surgery, this surgery does pose some risks. These risks include:

    • Anesthesia complications
    • Bleeding from the incision location
    • Changes in vision
    • Difficulty closing your eyes
    • Ectropion, an outward rolling of the lower eyelid
    • Eye dryness
    • Infection
    • Lid lag, a pulling down of the lower eyelid
    • Light sensitivity
    • Pain
    • Unfavorable scarring
  • How much does surgery cost?

    The costs for surgery vary based on your specific needs. Most insurance plans do not cover procedures considered cosmetic. Coverage may be available if your insurance carrier determines the procedure to be medically necessary to address vision problems.

    When you come in for your consultation visit, we’ll be better able to discuss fees in detail with you. Our staff will also review the financing options available and help with insurance approval questions.

Our locations

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MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Health: Orthopedics at McLean

1420 Beverly Road
Ste. 210
McLean, VA 22102