Can eyelid lift make dry eyes worse? What you need to know about dry eyes and blepharoplasty

Can eyelid lift make dry eyes worse? What you need to know about dry eyes and blepharoplasty

Eyelid surgery is a very popular procedure that has cosmetic as well as functional benefits for some patients. Like any surgical procedure, it’s important to learn about potential side effects and talk with your doctor about whether you are a good candidate based on your medical history. 

One potential side effect of eyelid lift surgery (or blepharoplasty) is dry eye syndrome. Blepharoplasty requires careful planning on the part of your surgeon to prevent creating dry eyes or exacerbating the condition if you already have it. This blog will explain what to watch out for as a patient. First, let’s start by defining this condition and outlining known causes of dry eyes.

What causes dry eyes?

Dry eye, or dry eye syndrome, can be caused by a number of factors:

  • Eye surgery
  • LASIK surgery
  • Use of contact lenses
  • Certain medications
  • Topical treatments
  • Hormonal treatments or changes

Risk factors for dry eye may also include allergens, the environment where you live (i.e. low humidity), certain features of your eye anatomy, or conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. 

How can eyelid lift surgery lead to dry eyes?

After surgery, some degree of swelling is to be expected, despite the fact that you will use cold packs and other methods to keep it down. Swelling, in turn, interferes with your eyes’ ability to close completely and thereby can contribute to dry eyes. These symptoms are temporary and can be managed with topical medications your surgeon will prescribe.

The best way to avoid dry eyes after eyelid lift surgery is to find an experienced, credentialed facial cosmetic surgeon.

In some cases, however, dry eye may persist for longer, due to poor surgical planning or a failure to take your medical history into account. The best way to avoid dry eyes after eyelid lift surgery is to find an experienced, credentialed facial cosmetic surgeon who takes extra care to screen you before surgery, performs the procedure with nuance and skill, and prescribes a post-operative protocol to prevent dry eyes. Below, we describe the steps board-certified facial cosmetic surgeons take to mitigate inflammation and dryness.

How your facial cosmetic surgeon works to prevents dry eye before, during, and after your blepharoplasty

Before surgery

Your facial cosmetic surgeon prevents or mitigates dry eye, first and foremost, by making sure that you are a good candidate for this procedure. They examine your eye anatomy, review your medical history, and talk to you about any symptoms that could mean you have dry eye disease, as well as any compounding factors like long periods looking at screens or driving, any history of smoking, or difficulty wearing contact lenses. If you have had another recent eye surgery, they will recommend postponing eyelid lift for 6-12 months, since multiple surgeries can compound your risk for dry eyes.

Your surgeon may conduct certain tests, such as the Schirmer test or a slit lamp evaluation, to check for any existing dry eye conditions. They may also consult with your eye doctor as needed. If you have dry eyes, your surgeon may need to identify the cause of your symptoms and adjust certain protocols for you.

If you are determined to be a good candidate for surgery, your surgeon will likely recommend certain pre-operative instructions, such as stopping contact lens wear or using lubricating eye drops, that are intended to help prevent dry eyes or keep any symptoms from worsening.

During surgery

During surgery, your facial cosmetic surgeon uses precise techniques to keep you safe and avoid permanently affecting the eye’s natural lubrication system. Some ways that they accomplish this may include:

  • For patients who are at risk of dry eye, your surgeon may administer an anti-inflammatory before surgery to avoid worsening any existing dryness.
  • Your surgeon will use a careful, customized surgical approach that minimizes trauma to the eye area and only removes a conservative amount of skin. (Too much skin removal could impair eyelid function, as blinking is an important part of lubricating the eyes.)
  • It is also key for your surgeon to avoid disrupting the lacrimal gland or pump, both of which function to keep your eyes lubricated.

As facial surgery specialists, board-certified facial cosmetic surgeons have a detailed understanding of the anatomy of your eye and the surrounding area, as well as extensive experience with eyelid lifts, which are one of the most frequently sought facial cosmetic procedures.

After surgery

Your surgeon will provide you with clear instructions for how to care for your eyes after surgery. Follow their instructions carefully in order to prevent excessive swelling, keep your eyes moist, lessen any inflammation, and prevent infection. This will, in turn, also help preserve your eyes’ lubrication. Your facial cosmetic surgeon will provide you with a detailed booklet of instructions, which may include:

  • Elevate your head
  • Rest your eyes, i.e. avoid screens and take breaks from focus-heavy tasks as needed
  • Apply a cold pack to your eyes at certain intervals
  • Insert certain eye drops to lubricate eyes, control inflammation, and prevent infection (ultimately helping to avoid any worsened dry eye)
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes

After about 2-3 months, the temporary dry eye caused by surgery should be mostly subsided, and your eyes should be back to how they were before surgery. If they are not, seek advice from your facial cosmetic surgeon. They may also recommend seeing your optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Will eyelid lift affect my ability to close my eyes all the way?

A skillfully performed eyelid lift will not affect your ability to fully close your eyes or to blink after the area has fully healed. Since normal blinking is a key part of your eyes’ natural lubrication system, your facial cosmetic surgeon will prioritize creating a surgical plan that avoids interfering with your eyelid muscle or removing too much skin.

A skillfully performed eyelid lift will not affect your ability to fully close your eyes or to blink after the area has fully healed.

How to choose a surgeon for your cosmetic eyelid lift

Choose a surgeon who is a specialist in the field of facial cosmetic surgery, with extensive experience performing eye lift surgery. Your cosmetic surgeon should have the reviews, before and after photos, and reputation to demonstrate their skills with this procedure. Surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Facial Cosmetic Surgery (ABFCS) are rigorously tested and vetted for specialty training in the field. Learn more about what it means to be a facial cosmetic surgeon or find a specialist surgeon near you today.