Today, we’ll cover a few things that might help you as you start down the road of preparing for eyelid surgery. We’ll touch on what to expect before, during and after surgery. Please keep in mind that these are just rules of thumb and shouldn’t be considered medical advice. For that, you should contact your surgeon directly.
With our disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started. We’ll use upper eyelid lifting surgery as an example, but most of what we’ll cover applies to eyelid surgery in general.
My doctor referred me to your office for a possible eyelid surgery – what are the first steps?
Your first step is to come into the office for a consultation. This will give you a chance to discuss your goals and concerns. It will also give you a chance to ask me any questions you may have. Plan to spend a little over an hour with us on the day of your consultation. We’ll divide your time between some preliminary paperwork, followed by an exam with me. After the exam, we’ll likely take some photos of your eyelids and perform a special side-vision test. This test helps us show how much your eyelids are getting in the way of your vision. Not all patients will need photos or side-vision testing, only patients with drooping upper eyelids or eyebrows need this testing. After any required tests, we’ll sit down and review the next steps. For some patients, the next step is for their insurance company to approve surgery. Other patients can proceed without any special insurance-company approvals; each insurance company has their own policies. See our recent blog post “Will insurance cover my eyelid lift surgery?”
I had my office visit, and I picked a surgery day. Now what?
There are a few things to accomplish after your office visit and before your surgery. The first is to pick up any required prescription medications. I often have patients use an eye ointment following eyelid surgery. The ointment promotes eyelid healing and can soothe the eyes. I would recommend picking up your medication before your surgery. That way, after surgery you can relax and focus on your recovery.
We’ll also ask you to visit with your primary care provider for a check-up. The check-up is to confirm that you are healthy enough for surgery. You may need blood tests and a test of your heart rhythm, depending on the surgery you’re having and depending on your past health.
I perform most of my surgeries at outpatient surgery centers in Davenport, Iowa. We use two different surgery centers, and both do an outstanding job. Anywhere from one-to-three days before surgery, the staff at the surgery center will call you to answer any logistical questions you may have. The staff at the surgery center will tell you when to arrive and if you need to stop eating after midnight. They will also discuss if you need to change when you take your regular medications.
What can I expect the day of surgery?
You’ll arrive at the surgery center at the prearranged time. This is generally a little over an hour before your surgery is scheduled to start. This gives you time to meet the staff, finish any required paperwork and meet with me again. You’ll also meet with a specialist that will administer medications that will keep you comfortable during surgery. You can expect to be under a “twilight” level of sedation, although some patients will drift all the way off to sleep. You should be comfortable during surgery, and your comfort will be a team effort. The staff and I will work to make sure we make the surgery portion of your day as smooth as possible. After surgery, plan to spend another hour with the staff before heading home.
What can I do to help with after-care?
After surgery, you’ll use lots of cool compresses to help limit your swelling. I don’t recommend ice compresses immediately after surgery, as there’s a risk of frost bite. You’ll also use an ointment regularly to promote healing. A number of patients tell me they plan to do a lot of reading immediately after surgery. Be aware that because of the ointment and swelling, your vision is likely to be blurry after surgery. This may make reading difficult, although each patient is different. It may be a better idea to have a number of audio books on hand for the first few days following surgery. If your vision is more than slightly blurry from ointment, you should call the office immediately.
What are my restrictions following surgery?
After surgery, plan to spend the first two days relaxing. You can be up and around your house doing light tasks, such as food preparation, but also plan to spend a significant amount of time reclining with cool compresses. For the first two weeks, avoid lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk and avoid bending. Both can stress the tiny sutures that are placed during surgery. You shouldn’t drive for at least twenty-four hours after surgery. You also shouldn’t drive while your vision is blurry. This means that the time from surgery to driving will depend on how fast your healing progresses and your blurry vision resolves.
I have more questions – now what?
Please give our office a call at 563.213.5080. I’d be more than happy to see you for a consultation. We serve Davenport, Iowa and the greater Quad City area. I look forward to seeing you soon.