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6 Steps to Complete Recovery from Double Eyelid Surgery

Getting double eyelid surgery may be an aesthetic choice you decide to make. Learn about what to do after surgery to ensure a smooth recovery.

An Asian woman with double eyelids smiling 

In some East Asian cultures, getting a double eyelid surgery is so common that it is sometimes given as a high school graduation gift from parents to their children. Some research has shown that preferring to get the surgery could simply be a personal preference to look more youthful and spirited, and not necessarily to get the Western look.

You may consider this option if you deem it a particular cosmetic improvement for yourself, beyond non-surgical things you can do to brighten your eyes. You’ll want to take proper steps to ensure a complete and successful recovery with any invasive surgery you decide to have done, especially one in such a delicate area of your face such as the eyes.

What to Expect with Double Eyelid Surgery

A woman pinching the temple, showing her double eyelid
Double eyelid surgery may involve one of several different incisional and non-incisional methods, depending on each unique case.

An upper eyelid blepharoplasty surgery may involve incisional (open knife surgery) or non-incisional (stitch) methods. The exact surgical methods used will be specific to each patient’s case after careful and thorough consultation with a highly skilled surgeon. 

Some common risks of this procedure include swelling, bleeding, scarring, sub-standard wound healing, infection, and temporary numbness. In rare cases, it can result in asymmetry in the upper eyelids, and may require revision surgery. As with all open surgeries, there is always a small risk of complications associated with the use of anaesthesia.

If you have certain conditions such as chronic dry eyes, abnormal lid closing (lagophthalmos or ptosis), or clotting disorders, you’ll need to carefully consider the risk of worsening these conditions and developing complications if you go through with double eyelid surgery.

Optimal Recovery After Double Eyelid Surgery

After the surgery, some minor pain and some degree of discomfort can be expected. Here are six steps to ensure you fully recover from the operation, including some recommended Chinese herbs and treatments to speed up the process. 

1. Address swelling and bruising

If you’re undergoing incisional surgery, you can expect stitches to be removed in four to seven days. Bruising usually resolves in about two weeks.

Apply a cold compress or ice pack to the area to keep swelling and bruising under control. Keep your head elevated even while sleeping to avoid too much blood pooling in the surgical wounds.

2. Avoid strenuous activities

Be sure to avoid strenuous activities such as physical exercise, dancing, or sports for the first few weeks to allow the body to focus on healing the wounds caused by the operation. Vigorous movement may risk your stitches and sutures getting undone, compromising your safety and the result of the surgery.

3. Apply ointments and eyedrops as prescribed

To prevent or address mild infections, your surgeon will likely prescribe topical antibiotic ointments. Be sure to follow instructions on applying the ointment properly to prevent infection.

After the surgery, you will also likely experience some level of lagophthalmos or abnormal and incomplete closure of the eyelid due to the stitches still being fresh. This can cause dry eyes. Your surgeon will prescribe suitable eye drops to keep your eyes sufficiently moisturised.

4. Protect the eyes

Immediately after surgery, you may find that your eyes are extra sensitive to light. Wear sunglasses and/or hats when outside to keep your eyes from straining, to allow for smooth healing and recovery.

If you usually wear contact lenses, you shouldn’t wear them so soon after the surgery. Make sure to speak with your surgeon and ophthalmologist for specific instructions and advice.

5. Herbs to speed up recovery

Slices of dried milkvetch root on a wooden plate and wooden spoon
Milkvetch root, also known as huang qi, is an invigorating TCM herb that can help with double eyelid surgery recovery.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Kelvin Goh, in TCM, any surgery on or near the eye is considered an invasive procedure.

“Open surgery damages the blood and qi through the procedure, leading to a disharmony in the body. Blood and qi disruption and damage usually weaken the Spleen and Kidney organ systems. This causes sub-par digestion, tiredness, poor appetite, body aches, and muscle weakness. TCM believes that having comprehensive post-surgical care can aid in a faster recovery”, he advises. 

Physician Goh recalls a patient of his who underwent double eyelid surgery, for whom he prescribed some herbs the first two weeks post-surgery. “Herbs that improve qi and blood will allow the patient to recover better as they disperse the blood clot around the eye areas and improve blood circulation”, he explains.

Herbs that invigorate qi and that help to hasten the process of healing by improving qi are such as milkvetch root (huang qi, 黄芪), atractylodes rhizome (bai zhu, 白术), and poria mushroom (fu ling, 茯苓). Meanwhile, herbs that nourish and replenish blood are Chinese angelica root (dang gui, 当归), rehmannia root (shu di, 熟地), and red dates (hong zao, 红枣).

6. Acupuncture for pain and healing  

After the first two weeks of rest and herbal medicine, and once the swelling had subsided in his patient, Physician Goh then administered eye acupuncture in the third week, for about three weeks. His patient recovered fully within five weeks rather than the usual six to seven weeks. 

Acupuncture, an important core treatment and health maintenance approach in TCM, can effectively reduce pain and assist with healing post-surgery. A recent meta-analytical study published in PLoS One looked at over 13 randomised clinical trials across 682 patients and showed that those who were treated with acupuncture and related treatments experienced less pain and used fewer opioid painkillers a day after surgery.

If ever you decide to have double eyelid surgery, whether for cosmetic or functional reasons, be sure to work with experts and professionals to ensure a proper recovery. Enhancements can be helpful, but some are riskier than others, so it bodes well to think through them carefully. In the meantime, taking care of your health and beauty non-surgically is always the more ready and less risky option.

References

  1. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. 2014. The Effect of “Single” vs “Double” Eyelids on the Perceived Attractiveness of Chinese Women. [Accessed 31 August 2022]
  2. Malaysian Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Oriental Eyelid Surgery. [Accessed 31 August 2022]
  3. Stanford Medicine. Asian Double Eyelid. [Accessed 31 August 2022]
  4. StatPearls. 2022. Upper Eyelid Blepharoplasty. [Accessed 31 August 2022]
  5. PLoS One. 2016. The Efficacy of Acupuncture in Post-Operative Pain Management: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. [Accessed 31 August 2022]

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