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What is Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty)?

Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, is a surgical procedure that modifies the eyelid skin and the skin around the eyes to improve the eye’s functioning and give you a more youthful appearance.

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Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, is a surgical procedure that modifies the eyelid skin and the skin around the eyes to improve the eye’s functioning and give you a more youthful appearance.

Doctors can perform the blepharoplasty procedure on both the upper eyelid and the lower eyelid together. However, upper blepharoplasty and lower blepharoplasty are options independently.

While eyelid surgery may not sound like a standard procedure, it is prevalent. In fact, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), blepharoplasty was one of the top five cosmetic procedures for both men and women in 2018, with more than 115,000 surgeries performed.

Different Types of Eyelid Surgery

This cosmetic surgery enhances the appearance of the eyes and the surrounding areas. But eyelid surgery can treat various eyelid problems. Whether you want to improve the looks of drooping eyelids or you want to improve the functioning of the them, 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 as puffy
  • Remove bags under the eyes and tighten drooping lower eyelids that reveal the white of the eyes below the irises
  • Remove excess skin, wrinkles, eye bags, and other unwanted skin issues in the upper and lower lids
  • Improve skin elasticity in the eye area so that you don’t have droopy eyelids

What to Expect: How is Eyelid Surgery Performed?

Eyelid surgery starts with a consultation. Your doctor will evaluate your health and any pre-existing medical conditions and risk factors that you may or may not have before discussing your surgery options, likely outcomes, potential risks, and treatment plans.


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While eyelid surgery is usually quick and can typically be done in a day, there are still risks involved with all surgeries. Eyelid surgery 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
  • Dryness of the 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 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

You will typically be awake during eyelid surgery but under local anesthesia. However, this procedure may also be performed under general anesthesia. Often, the surgery is performed with other rejuvenation procedures like a brow lift, a face lift, fillers, or ptosis repair, which tightens the levator muscle that lifts the upper eyelids.

Following the surgery, you may experience puffiness and pain and swelling in the eye area. 

Who is a Candidate for Eyelid Surgery?

Eyelid surgery could be for anyone who has eyelids that they want to improve, whether for cosmetic reasons or functional reasons. A good candidate for eyelid surgery is someone who is optimistic and realistic about results. Sometimes, eyelid revision surgery is necessary to correct the results of blepharoplasty.

Eyelid Surgery Recovery Timeline & Tips

Cosmetic eyelid surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure. On average, it takes about 45 minutes to up to two hours, depending upon whether or not you get other procedures done while in surgery.

Eye surgery, though quick, is serious. While it’ll only take a few hours for the anesthesia to wear off, you may feel pain and experience swelling, dark circles, blurred vision, and other side effects after surgery. Using cold compresses like an ice pack and keeping your head elevated while you sleep can help to alleviate some of the pain and discomfort associated with eyelid surgery. Eye drops can also help to keep the eyes lubricated following an eyelid lift.

Cost of Eyelid Surgery

The cost of eyelid surgery varies but, on average, cosmetic eyelid surgery costs about $3,000, though it ranges from about $2,000 to $5,000 for all four lids. Lower eyelid surgery tends to be more expensive than procedures done to the upper lids.

The cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facilities, prescriptions, medical tests, or other plastic surgeon-specific fees. A surgeon’s fee will depend on their experience, as well as the type of procedure, the extremity of the case, and other related factors. Many plastic surgeons will offer patient financing plans that make affording cosmetic eyelid surgeries much easier.

Note that most health insurance providers do not cover cosmetic surgery or any complications associated with cosmetic surgeries, including eyelid surgery. When eyelid surgery is performed to fix skin that covers the eyelashes, it may be covered by insurance. It’s important to check your insurance plan and speak with your provider about whether or not eyelid surgery is covered.

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Author: AnnaMarie Houlis | UPDATED January 20, 2021
Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
Resources

“Best NYC Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Surgery).” Romo Plastic Surgery, 6 Nov. 2020, www.romoplasticsurgery.com/procedures/surgical/blepharoplasty/

“Eyelid Surgery Procedure Guide.” ABCS, 16 Sept. 2015, www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/procedure-learning-center/face/eyelid-surgery-guide/

Rod Rohrich, MD, et al. “Eyelid Surgery.” American Society of Plastic Surgeons, www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/eyelid-surgery

Stepko, Barbara. “Understanding Belpharoplasty, Eyelid Plastic Surgery.” AARP, 11 June 2019, www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2019/blepharoplasty.html.

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