Eyelid Surgery Costs, Risks & Recovery

Reviewed by Darrick E. Antell, MD

The cost of eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) varies based on several factors, including the expertise of the surgeon, extent of the procedure and whether it's done as a standalone surgery or in combination with other procedures, such as a brow lift or injectables. Other factors that may affect eyelid surgery cost include the surgeon's fee as well as the geographic location of his or her practice.

Eyelid surgery cost is comprised primarily of anesthesia fees, facility fees and surgeon fees. The total cost can range from $2,000 to $5,000 or higher. Why the big range? Among other variables, the extent of the surgery plays a major role in determining cost. For example, upper and lower lid blepharoplasty costs about twice as much as lower lid blepharoplasty alone.

Like the cost of ear surgery, facelift or rhinoplasty, the cost of eyelid surgery tends to be higher in big cities such as New York City or Los Angeles due to high overhead and a greater demand for surgery. Surgeons outside of the United States may charge less for eyelid surgery, enticing some people to travel abroad for the procedure, a phenomenon known as "medical tourism." If you are interested in medical tourism, you should take the same precautions you would in the United States. Check to see if the surgeon(s) you are considering are board certified by reputable medical boards located in the country in which they practice. Your surgeon should also be in good standing with the medical community.

Breaking Down the Cost

The average surgeon's fee for blepharoplasty is around $2,900, according to the most recent statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. This is just an average, which means some surgeons charge a lot more and others may charge a lot less.

Anesthesia fees range from $400 to $800, depending, once again, on the extent of the surgical plan. The facility fee can be as high as $1,000.

Other fees may not be included in your initial estimate. These include the cost of any post-operative medications (such as painkillers, antibiotics or artificial tear drops) and any surgical supplies or other items that you may need during your eyelid surgery recovery (such as dark sunglasses and/or camouflage makeup). There may also be costs associated with preoperative blood work and exams to make sure you are a good candidate for eyelid surgery.

If your eyelid surgery is combined with facelift, laser skin resurfacing, facial implants or another procedure, your total cost will increase, as the surgery will take longer. In the long run, combining procedures may be cost-efficient, as you will only be responsible for one facility and anesthesia fee. However, it can also increase the complexity of your surgery as well as your eyelid surgery risk profile.

Insurance Issues

If your eyelid surgery is considered purely cosmetic, insurance will not cover the cost. If your blepharoplasty is to correct a medical condition such as eyelid ptosis (drooping eyelid) that affects your vision, it may be covered. Find out before you book your surgery. Financing plans may be available to help you cover the cost of your eyelid surgery if it is prohibitive. The cost of a male eyelid surgery procedure does not differ from the cost of female eyelid surgery.

Make sure that you discuss eyelid surgery cost with a board-certified plastic surgeon during your consultation. Cost is an important factor, but it should not be the only factor in your decision to undergo eyelid surgery. The most qualified surgeon may or may not be the one with the lowest price quote.

Weighing the Risks

Like all surgeries, eyelid surgery confers its share of risks. The good news is that serious complications following eyelid surgery are rare and can usually be minimized, if not eliminated, by carefully choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon and following his or her pre- and postoperative instructions.

Your eyelid surgery risk profile is based on the type of eyelid surgery you undergo and whether it is done as a standalone procedure or in combination with another procedure, such as a brow lift or neck lift. Combining procedures often increases their risks. Other factors, such as your surgeon's experience, your personal health history and how well you adhere you to your pre- and postoperative instructions, will also play a role.

Certain underlying medical conditions may increase your risk for eyelid surgery complications. These include thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism or Graves' disease, dry eye syndrome, circulatory disorders, high blood pressure, myasthenia gravis (a neuromuscular disorder marked by weakness of voluntary muscles), diabetes, a detached retina or glaucoma (high intraocular pressure within the eye). Your surgeon may require a physical exam and preoperative tests to ensure that you are healthy enough to undergo eyelid surgery.

General Surgical Risks

Some risks of eyelid surgery are general to all surgeries, including:

  • Anesthesia complications
  • Infection
  • Poor scarring
  • Pooling of blood beneath the skin (hematoma) that may clot
  • Unfavorable healing
  • Fluid accumulation under the skin (seroma)
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Skin discoloration
  • Deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot, most often in the leg, that can become deadly if it travels to the lungs or other areas)
  • Heart and lung complications
  • Death

Some of these risks can be mitigated. For example, you can minimize your risk of infection after eyelid surgery by taking antibiotics as prescribed and following your surgeon's instructions on how to care for your incisions. Signs of an infection may include discharge from your incision areas and a temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit. If you notice any of these signs, call your surgeon immediately.

The best way to minimize your risk of developing a potentially fatal blood clot after surgery is to walk around as soon as you are able, which helps boost circulation.

Specific Risks

Certain risks are more specific to eyelid surgery. These include:

  • Dry eyes (usually temporary)
  • Temporary inability to close your eyes
  • Ectropion or lid lag (the pulling down of your lower eyelid) and related eye irritation
  • Entropion (the pulling inward of the edges of your eyelid) and related irritation caused by eyelashes rubbing against your eyeball
  • Blindness (exceedingly rare)
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Temporary swelling at the corners of the eyelids
  • Tiny whiteheads on the eyelids
  • Asymmetry of the eyes
  • Sagging of the eyelids
  • Blinking problems
  • Difficulty keeping your eyes closed while asleep
  • Sunken eyes, which may occur if your surgeon removes all or too much of the fat pads under your eyes
  • Dissatisfaction with the cosmetic results

Some of these complications may require revision eyelid surgery.

Eyelid Surgery Risks: Protect Yourself and Your Eyes

Minimizing your risk of eyelid surgery complications starts with full disclosure. Tell your surgeon and anesthesiologist about your personal and family medical history, including all the medications you take. This includes prescription medication, over-the-counter products and dietary or herbal supplements. It is also important that you tell your medical team about any eye or vision problems you have. Be honest about your smoking and alcohol use. Smoking can impede your healing and increase your risk for complications. Alcohol also adds to the risks of your eyelid surgery. If you smoke, talk to your surgeon about how to quit smoking before you book your eyelid surgery.

Recovery

Everyone heals differently. The precise nature of your eyelid surgery recovery will depend on numerous factors, including the extent of your surgery and whether you have other procedures such as brow lift surgery performed at the same time. Your eyelid surgery recovery should be discussed with your plastic surgeon during your initial consultation and any other preoperative visits.

The following is a snapshot of what you can expect during your eyelid surgery recovery.

Immediately Following Surgery

Immediately after your blepharoplasty, your surgeon will likely apply some lubricating ointment and cold compresses to your eyes. Your eyes may also be covered with gauze. Unless your eyelid surgery is combined with other, more major procedures such as face lift or brow lift, you will likely go home the same day and will need a friend or family member to drive you.

Blurry vision is common immediately following eyelid surgery. This is normal and does not mean that something went wrong. Your eyes may also be sensitive to light after your eyelid surgery.

Cleaning your eyes and the incision sites is an important part of your eyelid surgery recovery. Your surgeon should provide detailed instructions on how to do this properly. Any stitches are usually removed about a week after your eyelid surgery.

There will be some swelling, bruising and/or irritation after your eyelid surgery. Cold compresses help with swelling, and soothing ointment can reduce any irritation at the incision sites. Follow your surgeon's instructions on how, and when, to apply this ointment.

Remember, the area around your eyes is extremely delicate and becomes bruised and swollen easily. The more complicated your eyelid surgery, the more bruising and swelling may result. It can take up to three weeks for swelling to (mostly) resolve after eyelid surgery. Some surgeons recommend herbal remedies such as arnica montana or bromelain to reduce postsurgical bruising and swelling. Ask your surgeon what you can do to keep bruising and swelling to a minimum following your surgery.

You will also be given an antibiotic to help lower your risk of developing a postsurgical infection. Take your antibiotic as directed, for as long as directed, after your eyelid surgery.

Expect some pain and discomfort following your eyelid surgery. This is usually alleviated with prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Certain OTC medications increase your risk of bleeding and should not be taken before or after your eyelid surgery. These include, but are not limited to, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Make sure you are clear about what is and is not OK to take for post-eyelid surgery discomfort.

Preventing and Treating Dry Eyes After Eyelid Surgery

Dry eyes are common after blepharoplasty. Lubricating eye drops or artificial tears can help moisten dry eyes and alleviate any burning or itching. Watching television, reading or using a computer or other electronic device immediately after your blepharoplasty can cause dry eyes and slow down your eyelid surgery recovery. You will likely be able to watch TV again after a few days.

You should keep your head elevated after your surgery, which can make sleeping a challenge. It may be helpful to use two or three medium-sized pillows or an inclined foam wedge to keep your head in the correct position. Your surgeon may also suggest a special eye mask to protect your eyes while you sleep.

Other eyelid surgery recovery tips include:

  • Don't wear eye makeup for one to two weeks after your surgery. Makeup can be used to camouflage any residual eye bruising after that time.
  • Avoid alcohol (which can cause swelling and slow your recovery).
  • Don't wear contact lenses for approximately two weeks. Your contacts may not feel comfortable after your surgery. However, wearing eyeglasses is OK after your blepharoplasty.
  • Avoid any activity that could increase blood flow to your eyes. This includes bending, lifting and exercising. Also be aware that crying increases blood flow to the eyes.

Most people are able to go back to work within 10 days after their blepharoplasty, but if your job involves reading or computer work, you may be sidelined longer. Ask your surgeon for specific advice and factor this in if taking time off from work is an issue for you.

About the Reviewer of This Article

Darrick E. Antell, MD, is an educational spokesperson for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He is a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon who has been in private practice for more than 20 years in New York City. Dr. Antell is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Antell received his general surgery training at Stanford University Medical Center and his specialty training in plastic/reconstructive surgery at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.