What to Know About Eyelid Surgery, According to 2 Plastic Surgeons

Upper eyelid blepharoplasty. Beautiful middle age woman getting ready for eyelid lift plastic surgery doctor hands in blue gloves point medical tools to her eye. Beauty, people and health concept

Plastic surgery seems to be more common than ever, but the reality is that we're finally talking about it. Whether it's celebrities opening up about what they've had done — like Bella Hadid with her rhinoplasty surgery — or people talking about the pressure to have a perfect "Instagram body" (which has popularized the Brazilian butt lift procedure), conversations around "tweakments" are becoming increasingly prevalent.

One procedure, in particular, has started making waves on TikTok: eyelid surgery. The procedure, which has been around for years, was resurfaced by a recent viral video that brought in more than 100,000 views. In the video, TikToker Julia Carpenter shows the before and after of her eyelid surgery. Users flooded her comments section, saying that they had either been thinking about the surgery themselves or had already gotten it done.

So what exactly is eyelid surgery? To better understand the procedure, we spoke with Manhattan-based double-board certified oculofacial plastic surgeon Robert Schwarcz, MD, and oculoplastic surgeon Kami Parsa, MD, who discuss everything from downtime to price.

What Is an Eyelid Surgery?

An eyelid lift, also known as a blepharoplasty, is "a general term for lifting the upper eyelid," Dr. Schwarcz says. While the term might suggest an exclusive focus on the eyelid, Dr. Schwarcz says that the procedure could encompass both "skin removal with selective fat manipulation or surgery involving the levator muscle to address upper eyelid ptosis, which is when the upper eyelid droops over the eye."

Best Eyelid Surgery Candidates

"A good candidate for eyelid surgery is someone who has noticed a drooping in their upper eyelids over the course of years or a buildup of fatty tissues," Dr. Schwarcz says. While sagging and drooping around the eyes is expected with aging, it can become bothersome for some people. "Peripheral vision may be affected due to a droopy lid, and if that's the case, surgery can be quite successful in getting that vision back," Dr. Schwarcz adds. Eyelid surgery can also be necessary after trauma to the eyelid or eyelid skin cancer.

While some patients opt to have the surgery for health reasons, others choose to do so purely for cosmetic reasons. "In my practice, I see a lot of patients who complain of looking tired even though they're well rested, and they explain their energy level doesn't reflect how they look on the outside," Dr. Parsa says. Dr. Schwarcz agrees, adding, "Many patients also feel the psychological effects of their appearance changing, and that plays a large role in them seeking surgery."

Eyelid Surgery Cost

Depending on your current location, the extent of the surgery, and other factors, Dr. Schwarcz says the total cost can land anywhere between $6,000 to $8,000. However, there are some cases where the procedure could be covered by insurance.

"For an eyelid surgery to be covered by insurance, a patient must meet certain criteria proving that [eyelid drooping] can functionally interfere with vision," Dr. Schwarcz says. "A patient must obtain a visual field that can prove that about 30 percent of the upper field of vision is involved, and this should correlate to a photo."

How Long Do Eyelid Surgery Results Last?

The results from blepharoplasty surgery can last up to 10 years before patients start seeing changes due to aging, Dr. Schwarcz says. Because of this, while there's no specific age that's best for the surgery done, he typically sees patients who fall in the 40-55 age category.

Does Eyelid Surgery Hurt?

Blepharoplasty markup close-up on the face before the plastic surgery operation for modifying the eye region of the face in medical clinic. Doctor doing plastic cosmetic operation
Getty | Rabizo

While they're considered major surgeries, eyelid lifts take much less time to perform than other, larger procedures. According to Dr. Schwarcz, the surgery is "somewhat invasive, but compared to bigger procedures, such as a tummy tuck, it is significantly less so."

Eyelid Surgery Preparation Tips

Prior to making a decision about the surgery, patients should always make sure the surgeons they consult are certified to do eyelid surgery. "Surgeons should have a cosmetic surgical training background and have a very strong command of eyelid anatomy," Dr. Schwarcz says. "Most importantly, they should be comfortable recognizing and treating their own complications, at the least." Make sure you find a board-certified oculofacial plastic surgeon with a cosmetically oriented-practice.

Once you've decided on the surgery, there's some work that goes into preparing for it. "Every surgeon has a different protocol, but I recommend a low-inflammatory diet for the week leading up to the surgery and for patients to stop all blood-thinning-related agents," Dr. Schwarcz says.

Eyelid Surgery Before and After

Eyelid Surgery Recovery Tips

The surgery's duration and downtime are relatively easy. "The procedure itself takes approximately 30 minutes," Dr. Schwarcz says. Patients can expect recovery to take one to two weeks. After the procedure, Dr. Schwarcz has patients use ice and apply antibiotic eye ointment to the suture line. He also recommends avoiding heavy lifting and exercise for two weeks.

There may be slight drawbacks after getting the procedure, such as drier eyes. Overall, however, eyelid surgeries can give a more "rested, bright-eyed look; offer some relief to the feeling of heaviness around eyelids; and can make a person appear more youthful while providing more symmetry to the face," Dr. Schwarcz says. It's important to note that you should never feel pressured by social media or outside sources to get any type of plastic surgery. Should you decide to get a cosmetic procedure, make sure it's something you want to do and that you've done your research beforehand.

Eyelid Surgery Risks

Common side effects can include bruising, bleeding, dry eyes, or blurry vision. Less common side effects can include scarring and problems with closing your eyes.

Dr. Parsa says that risk is usually associated with the surgeon's experience, which is why he recommends finding an experienced doctor and doing as much research as possible prior to electing to have eyelid surgery.

— Additional reporting by Renee Rodriguez