Common Questions & Answers about Ocular Surgery
Who can benefit from oculoplastic surgery?
An oculoplastic procedure is a type of surgery done around the eyes. You may have this procedure to correct a medical problem or for cosmetic reasons. Such conditions may include:
- Droopy upper eyelids (ptosis)
- Eyelids that turn inward (entropion) or outward (ectropion)
- Eye problems caused by thyroid disease, such as Graves disease
- Skin cancers or other growths in or around the eyes
- Weakness around the eyes or eyelids caused by Bell’s palsy
- Tear duct problems
- Injuries to the eye or eye area
- Birth defects of the eyes or orbit (the bone around the eyeball)
- Cosmetic surgery such as an eyelid lift
How should I prepare for the surgery?
According to the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, you can take the following steps to prepare for your surgery:
- See your primary care physician or internist before your surgery for standard preoperative clearance. If you take daily doses of aspirin and/or warfarin under the care of a cardiologist, you may need to see this specialist, in addition to seeing your regular primary doctor before being cleared for surgery.
- Avoid certain medications (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and warfarin) and over-the-counter supplements per your surgeon’s instructions.
- Make arrangements for someone to pick you up the day of your surgery and stay with you to help you get settled.
What can I expect after the procedure?
Your post-operative care will depend on the type of oculoplastic procedure you received. You will be provided with instructions to follow at home.
Dr. Patel will likely ask you to take it easy and apply cool compresses on your eyelids for the first few days after surgery. Minimal activity is usually recommended to help minimize swelling, bruising, discomfort, and post-operative complications.
After the first 48 hours, you can get up and move around. However, exercising or heavy lifting should be avoided for at least one week after surgery, and in some patients for up to two weeks after surgery. If you have stitches, they will be removed in the office a week or two after your surgery.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is usually recommended for any discomfort. Dr. Patel may prescribe a stronger pain medication based on the treatment protocol for the surgery.
How long is the recovery time?
The time necessary to recover from oculoplastic surgery depends on the type of procedure performed, and can vary for each individual. Oculoplastic surgeries are generally free of complications, and most patients report little discomfort during the procedure and recovery.
Does insurance cover oculoplastic surgery?
Before you can undergo such surgery, your surgeon will check with your insurance company to determine whether your procedure is covered. Because of the potential out-of-pocket cost of an oculoplastic procedure, it is important that you ask your surgeon to thoroughly explain the benefits of your procedure.
How can I take care of myself at home?
Your recovery will depend on your condition and the type of surgery you have. Dr. Patel will give you specific instructions to follow. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- You may have some pain, bruising, or swelling after surgery. Place cold packs over the area to reduce swelling and bruising. To protect your eyes and skin, wrap the cold pack in a towel before applying it.
- You may need to avoid activities that raise your blood pressure for about 1-2 weeks. This includes things such as exercising and lifting heavy objects. Your provider will tell you when it is safe to begin these activities again.
- Do not drink alcohol for at least 1 week after surgery. You may also need to stop certain medicines.
- You will need to be careful when bathing for at least a week after surgery. Your provider can give you instructions for bathing and cleaning the area around the incision.
- Prop your head up with a few pillows when sleeping, for about 1 week after surgery. This will help prevent swelling.
- You should see your provider for a follow-up visit within 7 days after your surgery. If you had stitches, you may have them removed at this visit.
- Most people are able to return to work and social activities about 2 weeks after surgery. The amount of time can vary, depending on the type of surgery you had. Your provider will give you specific instructions.
- You may notice increased tears, more sensitivity to light and wind, and blurring or double vision for the first few weeks.
When should I call my doctor?
After surgery, it is important to contact the Eye Center right away if you have:
- Pain that does not go away after taking pain relievers
- Signs of infection (an increase in swelling and redness, fluid draining from your eye or incision)
- An incision that is not healing or is separating
- Vision that gets worse