Home/Facial Plastic Surgery/Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty)

Eyelid surgery is designed to smooth the contours surrounding the upper and/or lower eyelids, giving patients the opportunity to look more energetic and youthful. The eyes are often considered the most expressive part of the face. Unfortunately, signs of aging or exhaustion in the delicate eye area can belie messages about how you feel. If your eyelids are droopy, puffy, or rimmed by dark circles, you may appear tired, unhappy, or even angry. At our practice, eyelid surgery — medically referred to as blepharoplasty — can remove excess fat and droopy skin from the upper and lower eyelids, resulting in a brighter, more rested appearance.

What are the Benefits of Eyelid Surgery?

Our Santa Barbara plastic surgeon, Wesley Schooler, MD, performs blepharoplasty to rejuvenate the eyes and achieve a more refreshed, youthful facial appearance. The procedure can address the upper and/or lower eyelids for very natural-looking results. The benefits of the procedure are usually contingent on your aesthetic goals, but eyelid surgery can generally:


When skin and fatty tissue become increasingly lax and the upper eyelids begin to sag into your line of sight, this is known as upper eyelid “hooding.” Blepharoplasty can be used to correct hooding of the eyelids and restore the full scope of your vision. Depending on the extent and location of the upper eyelid hooding, Dr. Schooler may recommend a brow lift combined with blepharoplasty. In certain cases wherein drooping eyelids obstruct a patient’s vision, medical insurance may be able to provide partial or full coverage for eyelid surgery.

Is Eyelid Surgery Right for Me?

Eyelid surgery can improve many signs of aging and exhaustion around the eye contours. This popular facial plastic surgery can reposition bulging fat and restore support for the mechanisms that support the upper eyelid. You may consider a blepharoplasty procedure if you:

If you’re interested in eyelid surgery, it’s important to maintain realistic expectations for the final results and consult with a plastic surgeon so you understand every aspect of the procedure. Dr. Schooler will listen to your concerns and review your medical history to help confirm your candidacy for eyelid surgery. Patients should generally be healthy enough to undergo the procedure and have no unmanaged medical conditions that may affect their recovery.  

How is the Eyelid Surgery Procedure Performed?

Eyelid surgery is typically an outpatient procedure performed under local, sedation, or general anesthesia. Upon consulting with our cosmetic surgeon about eyelid surgery, you will discuss whether or not you are a qualified candidate for the procedure. If you are a candidate, you will go on to discuss the details of your eyelid surgery. At this point, it is wise to ask any questions you have regarding the procedure. Dr. Schooler will be happy to explain all aspects of treatment, including health concerns associated with eyelid surgery, the benefits of the procedure, and any other issues.

Upper Eyelid Surgery

When treating the upper eyelids, blepharoplasty is performed to tighten drooping skin, fat, and musculature while correcting upper eyelid “hooding.” The procedure can provide a smoother look in the upper eyelids by addressing tissue laxity and reducing crow’s feet, which can both contribute to an aging appearance. During upper blepharoplasty, the incision is discreetly placed within the natural crease of the eyelid. From this point, Dr. Schooler will recontour the eyelids to create the desired aesthetic. Loose skin and excess fat will be removed while lax musculature will be tightened.

Lower Eyelid Surgery

Blepharoplasty can also treat signs of tiredness in the lower eyelids, such as puffiness, eye bags, and drooping skin. Like treating the upper eyelids, lower eyelid surgery also utilizes an inconspicuous incision—except it’s generally hidden on the inside of the lower eyelid during lower blepharoplasty. After the incision is made, excess lower eyelid fat will be repositioned to smooth eye bags and minimize puffiness. Depending on your cosmetic goals, lax skin can also be addressed. Our plastic surgeon works to make incisions as undetectable as possible for a natural-looking final outcome.

What is Recovery From Eyelid Surgery Like?

Swelling, bruising, and tenderness is common for a few days after eyelid surgery. Oral pain medications can be used to manage any discomfort, but these reactions typically resolve on their own as recovery progresses. Your surgeon will provide specific after-care instructions in person, but in general, applying ice to the eyes and keeping the head elevated can help minimize swelling and facilitate the healing process. Most patients can return to work and daily routines in one week, although strenuous activity should be avoided for approximately one month.

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How Long Do Eyelid Surgery Results Last?

While blepharoplasty will not stop the natural aging process, eyelid surgery is intended to provide results that can last years, if not decades. The best ways to preserve the rejuvenation achieved with the procedure is to always use sun protection (sunscreen, sunglasses, or a hat) when outdoors, and to utilize professional skin care products when necessary to help facilitate healthy-looking skin. The delicate tissues around the eyes will continue to be affected by factors like gravity and age, but these measures can help you maximize the longevity of your eyelid surgery results. Our medical spa services may also be pursued to “touch up” the outcome of surgery over time. Remember, you will generally always look younger after blepharoplasty than you would if you had never undergone surgery.

Will I Have Noticeable Blepharoplasty Scars?

Out of all the cosmetic procedures available, eyelid surgery is performed using some of the most discreet, inconspicuous incisions. Depending on which blepharoplasty technique is best to achieve your goals, incisions are typically made internally, within the lower lash line, or along the natural fold of the upper lid. This allows post-operative scarring to be undetectable to outside observers, and there is generally little to no evidence of surgery after incisions are fully healed. It’s important to take care of your incisions based on the recovery instructions provided by Dr. Schooler, as diligent wound care following eyelid surgery can encourage scarring to lighten and become even more discreet over time.

The ability to perform blepharoplasty without obvious scarring can only be executed by an experienced, well-qualified plastic surgeon, which is why we strongly advise entrusting your care to a provider who has earned board certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS).

How Much Does Eyelid Surgery Cost?

Many factors can influence the cost of eyelid surgery, including whether both the upper and lower eyelids are being addressed as well as the extent of surgical work required to achieve your goals.

After your needs and goals are assessed in a consultation, our office will be able to provide you with a personalized quote of your blepharoplasty expenses. If you would prefer to pay for your surgery over a period of time, Dr. Schooler works with CareCredit® and Alphaeon™ Credit to provide patients with affordable plastic surgery financing options. These healthcare lending companies offer qualified applicants a number of payment plans with low monthly installments to suit their unique budget. To learn more about our accepted modes of payment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our practice.

Can I Get an Eyelid Lift Without Surgery?

A surgical blepharoplasty procedure is typically considered the most effective way to minimize age and exhaustion in the eyelid region. There is unfortunately no non-surgical technique that can exactly replicate the powerful results achieved with eyelid surgery. That said, certain non-surgical cosmetic treatments can be performed to improve some of the concerns traditionally addressed with an eyelid lift. These med spa services will not produce the same quality of results as blepharoplasty, but they can help you rejuvenate your appearance and/or provide some enhancement before an event or a special occasion.

There are many alternative treatment options that may benefit your needs if you cannot (or prefer not to) undergo eyelid surgery. We offer hyaluronic acid dermal fillers, CO₂ laser skin resurfacing treatments, and medical-grade skin care to supplement our surgical options. With injectables, products like BOTOX® Cosmetic can smooth crow’s feet and other wrinkles around the eyes caused by repetitive facial expressions. Dermal fillers can also be injected to restore lost volume under the eyes and improve the lower eyelid contour.

Depending on your concerns, our advanced resurfacing treatments and skin care products can be utilized to enhance your complexion, as well as treat common conditions like rosacea, wrinkles, acne scarring, and hyperpigmentation. All of these minimally invasive treatment options can be pursued according to your goals in place of, or in addition to, blepharoplasty.

Are There Alternatives to Blepharoplasty?

Eyelid surgery can be very effective at refreshing the eyes, but the procedure is not designed to address the entire upper face. For this reason, some patients may find that their concerns are better treated with brow lift surgery — another facial procedure performed to rejuvenate signs of aging in the upper-third of the face. Unlike blepharoplasty, a brow lift is able to correct drooping, excess skin, and deep creases along the forehead. Since the forehead muscles are typically overused due to the repeated formation of facial expressions, these concerns are frequently shared among patients of many different ages.

A brow lift can reposition weakened musculature causing the eyebrows to droop (sometimes causing an angry or stern look) and help smooth deep creases observed along the forehead. To make the most of their facial rejuvenation, many patients choose to undergo a brow lift at the same time as their blepharoplasty in order to maximize the overall results.

Additional Blepharoplasty FAQs

What is transconjunctival blepharoplasty?

Transconjunctival eyelid surgery is simply a lower blepharoplasty procedure that utilizes an internal incision. The incision is made from inside the lower eyelids and should not leave behind any visible scarring. With the transconjunctival technique, patients can achieve a more rested look in the lower lids by smoothing puffiness and under-eye bags. This is accomplished by repositioning/resculpting fat pads below the eyes, which can protrude outward and create a “baggy” aesthetic. Transconjunctival eyelid surgery is known to result in less downtime when compared to other techniques, but this approach can only address the lower eyelids and may not be appropriate for all patients.

When can I wear makeup after eyelid surgery?

It’s important to wait until your incisions are fully healed before applying makeup, as wearing cosmetic products prematurely can expose your surgical wounds to dirt, bacteria, and other impurities. The healing process may range from ten days to three weeks depending on each patient. Dr. Schooler will provide a more detailed explanation of aftercare instructions after your procedure. Once you’re able to safely resume wearing makeup again, we recommend replacing older products with new cosmetics to minimize the incisions’ exposure to bacteria.

Can I wear contacts after blepharoplasty?

Contacts can be worn after the initial healing period, but patients should switch to prescription glasses for at least ten days following their surgery. Since every person has a unique rate of healing, this timeframe may vary depending on the progress of one’s recovery. Incisions can be very vulnerable to infection immediately after blepharoplasty, therefore it’s imperative to avoid touching or disturbing the surgical sites.

What is the difference between blepharoplasty and ptosis repair?

Blepharoplasty and ptosis repair are both procedures that address sagging tissue around the eyes; however, ptosis repair is generally performed for medical reasons while eyelid surgery is considered a cosmetic surgery.

“Ptosis” refers to a condition in which the levator muscle tendons—which support the upper eyelids—weaken and can no longer fully lift the eyelids. This can prevent patients from obtaining a complete field of vision, often resulting in symptoms like eye strain, fatigue, and headaches. Ptosis repair is designed to correct this medical condition by tightening the levator muscles and restoring support for the upper lids. Blepharoplasty, on the other hand, primarily aims to smooth the eye contours for the purpose of attaining a more youthful appearance. The indications for eyelid surgery and ptosis repair may look similar, but each procedure has its own distinctive concerns and goals.

What will my eyes feel like after eyelid surgery?

After blepharoplasty, your eyes may feel sore, swollen, tight, or sensitive to light. You may be instructed to cover your eyes immediately following surgery to minimize discomfort. Some patients may also experience blurry vision temporarily, but rest assured that all of these reactions are normal and should subside within the next few days. In the meantime, medication and cool compresses can be utilized to manage any discomfort. Dr. Schooler will fully inform you of what you can expect after your procedure.

Please feel free to request a brochure on eyelid surgery procedures from the Santa Barbara Plastic Surgery Center. Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.