Eyelid Lift 101: 5 minute overview

An eyelid lift, tuck, or blepharoplasty is a cosmetic operation done to rejuvenate the eyelid area. This educational writing was done for a patient from Dover, DE. It is important to learn as much as you can about any plastic or cosmetic surgery procedure. This is called “doing your homework.” But, I understand that a quick overview can help, and the specifics can be learned later. This writing should help for those interested in this type of quick review. Let’s call it Eyelid Lift 101!

The operation to rejuvenate the eyelid area has different names for the exact same operation. These names are eyelid lift, eyelid tuck, and medically blepharoplasty. Sometimes it is just called an eye lift. The operation is done to make this area more youthful and attractive. As we age, we get excess skin around the upper eyes called hooding. Other changes include bags and circles. These changes can make us look old and tired. These operations are the main surgical procedures to improve and correct these problems. The American Society of Aesthetic Surgery ranks this operation in the top 5 of most commonly performed procedures.

Non-Surgical Options

There are some non-surgical options to consider, but surgery is often the best for excess skin and bags. Botox and Dysport can help with crows feet and forehead lines, but they don’t help the eye changes I have described. Fillers like Restylane and Juvederm can be injected into the lower eyelid tear trough area. This is the wrinkle on the inside by the nose. This will give some benefit, but it is best for the younger patient who wants just a little improvement quickly. If you want a more long lasting rejuvenation, and you want to look more substantially improved, surgery is your best option. Injectables are best for a quick and short lived benefit. In summary, when it comes to options, surgery is the best choice to improve the changes of aging around the eyes such as hooding, bags, and circles. I can speak from experience, since I have personally had eye lift operations.


There are upper and lower eye lifts. The upper lift is for excess skin called hooding. The lower lift is for bags and circles. The operation takes about one hour. It is done on an outpatient basis, which means you go home to recover. The recovery is characterized by two things: minimal pain, but also significant bruising and swelling. The small small amount of pain is great news and in my opinion is amazing. Most of my patients need absolutely no narcotic pain pills. Tylenol and Advil is all that is needed usually. Bruising and swelling are normal after surgery. This takes time to go away or resolve. Most bruising goes away in the first week, but another week is often needed, as lingering bruising goes away slowly.

The operation day at the surgery center usually is about 3-4 hours. This includes meeting the nursing staff and anesthesia staff. The operation takes about one hour, and another hour to recover in the recovery room. Most patients have sedation or general anesthesia, which is extremely safe if you are healthy. Local anesthesia is an option for some patients. This means local injections are done for the eye tuck. The person who chooses this option must be able to lie still for the procedure and to tolerate the injections, which can hurt a bit. It’s not for everyone. Most patients choose some form of anesthesia for comfort and safety.

When you leave after surgery, there are no bandages at all. It is normal to have some small amount of blood from the incisions. Everyone has this. It is a small amount. During the first days after the lift, the instructions will be to close the eyes and to ice the eyes. Keeping the head elevated at all times is important to decrease swelling. These post operative instructions are emphasized for the early period after surgery. It is essential for the first 3-5 days, but I recommend focusing on these instructions for a week.


Recovery after a blepharoplasty is very easy for most patients. Some delicate and tiny plastic surgery stitches are used for the procedure and are removed after about 5-7 days. The stitches are very small, and I use a technique with a “pull-out” stitch. Because of this method, suture removal is almost painless. After about one week, most people can start to resume normal activities such as driving, walking, and many jobs. The bruising is still going away and is often still visible during the second week. This can usually be camouflaged by make up at this time. After about two weeks in the recovery process, patients can resume all activities.

Risks and Results

Risks of an eye lift are, overall, extremely low. These risks are discussed in detail during the consultation. Results and satisfaction of the procedure are very high. The majority of people are very happy with their results and their new appearance. Surgery doesn’t turn us into a movie star, however. It is important to have realistic expectations about how young surgery will make us. You can see lots of before and after pictures in the photo gallery by clicking here.

Eyelid lift: Before and after
Eyelid lift: Before and after