The Risks and Side Effects of Eyelid Surgery

Blepharoplasty, commonly called eyelid surgery, can be a great way to redefine your upper eyelid, reduce bags in your lower eyelid, or reverse numerous signs of aging. With only one or two incisions, this effective cosmetic treatment has helped our patients in the Minneapolis area gain a new sense of satisfaction and rejuvenation with their face.

If you believe eyelid surgery may be right for you, we encourage you to learn about possible risks and side effects of the procedure. Although most patients experience a quick recovery and no complications, it’s important to have an understanding of the surgery’s potential effects.

Risk Factors Before Surgery

Before undergoing any plastic surgery, you should speak with your doctor about risk factors that may increase the chances of complication. These are generally pre-existing conditions that your doctor should be informed of, in order to ensure your safety and help you establish reasonable expectations.

For virtually all surgeries, systemic diseases such as heart disease, thyroid disease, liver disease, and uncontrolled diabetes can reduce your body’s ability to recover. Similarly, smoking can negatively impact your recovery rate, depending on your history and frequency of tobacco use.

Risk factors that are specific to eyelid surgery include glaucoma, a detached retina, dry eyes, or similar problems that may compromise the health of your eyes. Be sure to have a detailed conversation with your doctor about any possible concerns.

Side Effects of Surgery

A majority of patients experience few and mild side effects after eyelid surgery. While every patient is different, the following side effects are relatively common and should not cause initial concern:

  • Bruising: Early in recovery, you may experience bruising around your eye; this is a normal part of the healing process.
  • Swelling: Similar to bruising, you can expect your eye and surrounding areas to swell in the early stages of recovery. This may also result in increased dryness of the eyes. The periodic application of an ice pack may help reduce bruising and swelling.
  • Scarring: Your incisions will leave scars during recovery, which may take over a year to fully heal. However, due to their placement along the crease of your eyelid, especially in the upper eyelid, they are often naturally concealed.
  • Soreness: As your wounds heal, you can expect the eyelid to feel sore or uncomfortable for the first few days. If over-the-counter painkillers are not sufficient, your doctor can prescribe a stronger medication to limit discomfort in early recovery.

While additional side effects are less common, some patients may also experience any of the following temporary effects:

  • Eyelid numbness
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Eyelid pain
  • Difficulty closing the eyes
  • Excessive or limited moisture in the eyes


Infrequently, eyelid surgery can result in cosmetic or medical complications, most of which can be largely avoided through the use of an experienced and skilled plastic surgeon.

Complications include eyelash loss, which is most often temporary; hematoma, which requires surgical removal; and changes to vision, which are more often temporary than permanent. As with any surgical incision, infection is possible, but can be avoided through antibiotics and proper hygienic care during recovery.

Explore the Benefits of Eyelid Surgery

For a majority of our patients, the long-term benefits of eyelid surgery far outweigh the side effects. If you are considering this procedure or another one of our plastic surgery treatments, contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kovanda.

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