Updated on  February 22, 2024
5 min read

What Is Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty)?

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Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty or “eye lift surgery,” is a cosmetic procedure. It modifies the skin on your eyelid and around your eyes. With this surgery, plastic surgeons can improve your eye function and give you a more youthful appearance.

Blepharoplasty before and after illustration

As you age, your eyelid skin stretches. This can cause sagging skin, eyebrows, droopy lids, and bags under your eyes.

In addition to making you look older, this plastic surgery can reduce your peripheral vision. The procedure may involve removing excess skin, muscles, and fat around your eyes.

Doctors can perform surgery on the upper and lower eyelids together or separately.

What Can Eyelid Surgery Treat?

Eyelid surgery enhances the appearance of your eyes and the surrounding areas.

Whether you want to improve the look or functioning of your eyes, eyelid surgery can:

  • Tighten loose and/or sagging skin that creates natural creases in the eyelids, disturbs the natural contour of the eyelid, and may or may not impair vision.
  • Remove excess fat deposits that make the eyelids appear puffy.
  • Remove bags under the eyes and tighten drooping lower eyelids that reveal the white of the eyes below the irises.
  • Improve elasticity in the eye area so you don’t have droopy eyelids.

What to Expect: How is Eyelid Surgery Performed?

Before surgery, you’ll consult with your doctor. They’ll evaluate your health, pre-existing medical conditions, and potential risk factors.

They’ll also likely perform a physical examination, a vision test, and take pictures of your eyelids.

You’ll also go over surgery options together. This includes:

  • Possible or likely outcomes
  • Potential complications
  • Your treatment plan

During the Procedure

Cosmetic eyelid surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure. On average, it takes about 45 minutes to two hours.

Here’s what typically happens:

1. Anesthesia

First, your surgeon will administer anesthesia. This could be local or general.

Local anesthesia is a numbing agent that the doctor injects into your eyelids to numb and relax the area.

General anesthesia is a medication that makes you unconscious throughout the procedure. You and your doctor will discuss the best option for you before the procedure.

2. Incision Lines

If you’re having both eyelids operated on, the surgeon will likely start with the upper lid, followed by the lower. The incisions are made to hide the scars within your natural eyelid structure.

The surgeon will then remove or reposition fat deposits, tighten muscles, or remove excess skin.

3. Closing the Incisions

Once the surgery is complete, the surgeon closes the incisions. This is typically done with sutures or skin glue. Following the surgery, you may experience puffiness, pain, and swelling in the eye area.

Upper Eyelid Vs. Lower Eyelid Surgery

Plastic surgeons can perform blepharoplasty surgery on the upper or lower eyelids. The techniques and recovery processes can differ slightly depending on where the procedure is performed. 

Upper eyelid surgery is usually performed to provide a more natural, youthful appearance. The procedure involves removing excess fat and skin from the upper eyelids. It’s often used to correct droopy, sagging, or puffy eyelids.

Lower lid surgery is typically used to reduce the appearance of under-eye bags and wrinkles. It removes excess skin, fat, and muscle from the lower lids.

Eyelid Surgery Recovery Timeline & Tips

Eyelid surgery, though quick, is serious. After a few hours, the anesthesia will wear off. You may feel pain and experience swelling, dark circles, blurred vision, and other side effects for a while.

Plastic surgeons may use a lubricating ointment, cold compresses, or a loose gauze covering to protect your eyes after surgery. They’ll then give you specific instructions on how to make your wounds heal quickly and cleanly.

Some tips might include:

  • Using cold compresses (like an ice pack)
  • Keeping your head elevated while you sleep
  • Eye drops to keep your eyes lubricated
  • Tylenol to manage pain
  • Not taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications
  • Refraining from physical activity for the 3 weeks following surgery and sun exposure for the 6 weeks following
  • Not applying any ointments or makeup to your face for at least a week

Eyelid Surgery Risks & Complications

Eyelid surgery is usually quick and can typically be done in a day. However, there are risks involved with all surgeries.

Risks include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Reactions to any anesthesia and/or injuries due to sedation
  • Swelling and bruising around the eyes
  • Difficulty closing the eyes
  • Bleeding from the incision lines
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye infections
  • Sensitivity to lights, including sunlight
  • Ectropion (when the lower eyelid rolls outward) or entropion (when the lower eyelid rolls inward)
  • Pain in and around the eyes
  • Changes to the skin around the eyes and lash line, including numbness or tingling sensations
  • Temporary or permanent changes to the field of vision, such as double vision or, in rare cases, blindness
  • Scarring
  • Lid lag (when the upper eyelid is higher than normal while you are looking down)
  • The need for eyelid revision surgery

How Much Does Eyelid Surgery Cost?

The cost of eyelid surgery varies, but, on average, cosmetic eyelid surgery costs about $3,000. It ranges from about $2,000 to $5,000 for all four lids. Blepharoplasty costs are also more expensive on the lower lids than upper lids.

The total blepharoplasty cost doesn’t include:

  • Anesthesia
  • Operating room facilities
  • Prescriptions
  • Medical tests
  • Other plastic surgeon-specific fees

A surgeon’s fee will depend on their experience, the type of procedure, the extremity of the case, and other factors. Many surgeons offer patient financing plans.

Note that most health insurance providers don’t cover cosmetic surgery or any complications associated with cosmetic surgeries, including eyelid lift surgery.

When eyelid surgery is performed to fix the skin that covers the eyelashes, insurance may cover it. Check your insurance plan and speak with your provider about whether or not eyelid surgery is covered.


Many people receive eyelid surgery to correct signs of aging in the eyes. The procedure involves removing excess skin around the eyes, making them appear younger and less tired.

If you plan on receiving eyelid surgery, remember that it can include risks and complications. Always talk to your doctor about your concerns and ensure your safety.

Updated on  February 22, 2024
6 sources cited
Updated on  February 22, 2024
  1. Best NYC Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Surgery).” Romo Plastic Surgery, 2020.
  2. Eyelid Surgery Procedure Guide.” ABCS, 2015.
  3. Rod Rohrich, MD, et al. “Eyelid Surgery.” American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
  4. Stepko, B. “Understanding Blepharoplasty, Eyelid Plastic Surgery.” AARP, 2019.  
  5. Who Is a Good Candidate for Blepharoplasty?” Princeton Plastic Surgeons, 2016.
  6. Hein, K. “Cosmetic Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty).” Katherine Hein MD.
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