Upper Eyelid Surgery: Blepharoplasty and Ptosis
Frequently asked questions
This handout explains the difference between blepharoplasty and ptosis surgery and what
to expect after.
What is the difference between
blepharoplasty and ptosis surgery?
Blepharoplasty and ptosis (levator
repair) surgery are two methods used to
lift the upper lid to improve peripheral
vision. With blepharoplasty, excess
skin and fat are removed. In ptosis
surgery, the muscle in the upper lid that
helps lift is reattached with stitches to
lift the height of the lid edge. Healing
after surgery is similar for both and often
they are done at the same time. They can
also be done with other eyelid
procedures as well.
What happens during the surgery?
For blepharoplasty or ptosis (levator)
surgery you will be given medicine to
help you relax. An incision is made in
the crease of the eyelid and extra tissue
is marked with a pen. The upper eyelids
are then numbed and the tissues are
removed as needed. During ptosis
surgery, you may be asked to sit for part
of the time. You may also be asked to
look up and down so the height of the
lids can be adjusted. You should not feel
a lot of pain at any time.
Will there be a patch or dressing on
the eyes after surgery?
There will be no patch over the eyes
after surgery. You will be able to see,
although the vision will be blurred due
to the eye ointment and tearing.
Should I expect pain after surgery?
Pain is different for everyone. It often
helps to rest, use ice, and avoid
strenuous activity that could increase
pressure in the eyelid area. You may also
be given pain medicines. Please do not
use ibuprofen or aspirin products for the
first week as this can increase bleeding.
The first 2 days are often the most
painful, but it will slowly improve over
the next week. If the pain gets worse, or
causes a lot of nausea or vomiting, call
the office or doctor on call to ask if you
need to be seen before your scheduled
follow up visit.
When do I start the eye ointment?
Ointment is placed on the skin stitches at
the end of surgery. For the next 2-3
weeks, a small strip of ointment is
placed on the incision with a clean finger
or Q-tip, 2-3 times daily. The ointment
often gets into the eye and can blur
What do the eyelids look like after
surgery? Will they be bruised?
The eyelids will be swollen and bruised,
and may extend to the lower lids. Over
the first two weeks, the tissues will
become less swollen and red, and the
sutures dissolve on their own. Please
keep the sutures moist and soft so that
they dissolve easily and do not become
itchy. It often takes many months after
the swelling and scarring has healed to
see the final result.
To help with bruising and swelling, it is
important to use cold compresses (wet
wash cloth or gauze soaked in ice water)
on the eyelids as much as possible while
you are awake for the first 48-72 hours.
If a bag of frozen peas is used, please
wrap it in a wet cloth. You do not need
to use compresses while asleep at night.
After 3 days, you may switch to warm
What activities can I do after surgery?
Avoid strenuous activity for one week
after surgery or until you see your
doctor. This includes bending, exercise,
sports, and lifting more than 15 pounds.
Anything that increases your heart rate
too much may cause
bleeding/hemorrhage or more swelling
in the eyelids. This may slow healing or
impact the final result.
Will my eyes close normally after
surgery? What if they feel dry?
The eyes will close normally, but may
feel tight for a while. Please use over-
the-counter artificial tear drops, such as
Refresh, Systane, or Optive (avoid
Visine), 4-8 times a day as needed to
help keep the eyes moist and
comfortable. If the eyes burn, feel
irritated, or scratchy, place a tear drop on
What should I do if the eyelids
suddenly become very itchy and
If the eyelids become very swollen, red,
and itchy a few days after surgery, you
may be having an allergic reaction to the
eye ointment. Please stop the eye
ointment and keep the stitches moist
with Vaseline instead. You can take
Benadryl pills to help with the itching as
well. Benadryl may cause you to feel
sleepy and should not be taken before
Will the sutures need to be removed?
No, the sutures will dissolve on their
own within a week or more. Sometimes
the surgeon may place blue or black
stitches that will need to be removed at
your next visit.
When can I wear makeup?
Do not wear makeup on the eyelids for
at least one week. You can ask your
doctor if you can wear eye makeup at
your follow-up visit. Often light makeup
can be applied after 1-2 weeks, but you
should still be careful when taking the
makeup off. Do not rub the incision.
When can I wear my contacts?
Do not wear contacts for at least one
week to avoid pulling the stitches on
your eyelids. You can check with your
doctor if you can wear your contacts at
your follow-up visit.
Can I shower and get my face wet?
You can shower after 24 hours. Let the
water hit the back of the head rather than
your face. Blot-dry your face gently at
all times. Do not rub your face.
Should I restart all my medicine(s)
from before surgery?
You should restart all your other
medicine(s) after surgery. If you take
aspirin, Coumadin, or other blood
thinners, please check with your doctor
before restarting these. Multivitamins
and other herbal supplements should not
be taken for one week after surgery.
Will I be able to drive after surgery?
Do not drive for the first few days due to
the anesthesia. You may feel tired and
not be able to react quickly enough. The
eyelids may be swollen, and your eyes
may be blurry and watery which can also
make it hard to drive. Please use good
judgement. Driving short distances and
during the day is a good start.
At any point in your healing, if you get sudden, severe pain or change in vision, please
call the clinic.
Thank you for placing your trust in our team at UW Health. If you have more questions,
please let us know or call our Madison office at (608) 263-7171, or the Rockford office at
Cat Burkat, MD, FACS Mark Lucarelli, MD, FACS
Associate Professor Professor
Oculoplastic, Facial Cosmetic, and Orbital
Oculoplastic, Facial Cosmetic and Orbital
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call
if you have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with
your doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical
condition. Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on
your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911.
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