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Recovery from ptosis surgery - what to expect

Updated: Jan 9

Ptosis is the medical word to describe a droopy eyelid. It is when one or both of the upper eyelids droop down to a lower position than normal. It can affect both adults and children. Those that are born with a droopy eyelid are known as having congenital ptosis. In adults it tends to develop as we get older but can occur at any age. Common causes of adult ptosis include eye surgery, contact lens usage, injury to the eyelids or neurological and muscular conditions.


Ptosis can alter the appearance of a person but can also interrupt ones field of vision, be a cause of headaches and brow aches, give a tired appearance and even cause eye strain. Many people decide to have ptosis surgery to fix their droopy eyelids as a form of cosmetic eyelid surgery or for the symptoms they have and here the most common questions about the recovery are answered.


Ptosis surgery recovery


Can I go home after ptosis surgery?


Most adults will be able to go home a few hours after the surgery but children may need to stay in the hospital for 1 night as the anaesthetic wears off. Even if you are going home the same day it is advised to have someone collect you from the hospital as it isn't safe to drive for the first 24 hours and the vision may be blurred. You may also want a friend or family member to take care of you for the first 24 hours following the procedure.



How long is recovery from ptosis surgery?


After coming out of surgery, you will feel that the vision is blurred as a result of the thick ointment used. After the surgery the ointment is used to keep the eyes moist. This can mean the vision is blurred until the end of the day. A dressing is usually paced on the eyelids which helps to reduce the swelling and will be left on for a day where you can remove the dressing at home.


Once at home please be sure to follow the post operative instructions provided by the nurse when leaving the hospital. The medication prescribed can be used to reduce any irritation to the eyes and the eyelids and prevent dry eye.


After about 10-14 days you will be assessed in clinic to assess the position of the eyelid and make sure that the healing process is going to plan as well as remove any stitches that need to be taken out. You will then be assessed once again a few months later to see the result once the bruising and swelling has settled.



Is there any bruising after ptosis surgery?


The bruising following ptosis surgery tends to last for 2 weeks. Even after then there still may be some residual bruising that has yet to settle in some patients. This can usually be covered with make up. You can help reduce the bruising and eyelid swelling following the surgery by:


  • have plenty of rest for the first 2 days after the surgery

  • using a cold compress regularly

  • sleeping on 2 or 3 pillows to allow the swelling to drain

  • avoiding smoking

  • avoid non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and diclofenac for 1 week



Can you drive following ptosis surgery?


The legal requirement for driving is vision that is better than 6/12 on the chart and being able to read a number plate at 20 metres. For the first 24 hours following the surgery the vision tends to be blurred and so it is definitely not advised to drive. Following this you are able to drive so long as you meet the vision requirements.



When can I exercise following ptosis surgery?


Following the surgery the wounds need to be kept dry. Swimming and strenuous exercise should be avoided for the first 2 weeks as the eyelids heal.


When taking a shower or having a bath, try to avoid water coming in contact with the eyelids for the first 5 days. If the eyes do get in contact with water, pad dry them with a face towel or cotton pad avoiding any rubbing motion on the skin. After 5 days water can come in contact with the skin and the eyelids can be washed gently.



How much time do I need to take off work?


You should be able to return to work when you feel confident to do so. If you are able to work from home you may be able to return to work the next day. Some people only feel able to return to work after most of the bruising settles and this will take 1-2 weeks.



When can I wear make up after ptosis surgery?


It is not advised to wear make up whilst the wounds are healing. Make up can be worn 10-14 days following the procedure.



Can I wear contact lenses after ptosis surgery?


You should not wear soft contact lenses following ptosis surgery. This is because placing contact lenses in the eye involves pulling or touching the area of the incisions as well as the eyelid which is still healing. This can increase the risk of infections and allow the incisions to open. Hard contact lenses can rub against the muscle attachment of the eyelid. They are a known cause of ptosis but if necessary that can be reintroduced 4 weeks after eyelid surgery.



How long does ptosis surgery last?


Ptosis surgery can last a lifetime in most patients. Some people may require repeat surgery in the future and it is difficult to say when the ptosis might return. About 90% of patients are happy after their first operation. 10% of cases may need a further procedure to fine tune the eyelid position or improve the symmetry. if the eyelid position isn't quit right or the eyelid curve is not symmetrical.


If you are due to have redo surgery it is important to seek an experienced oculoplastic surgeon like Mr Ahmad Aziz who is used to carrying out these procedures as they are more challenging.