Exercise after Eyelid Surgery

When and How to Resume Exercise after Eyelid Surgery

Eyelid surgery is a popular cosmetic procedure that can help rejuvenate the appearance of the eyes by removing excess skin, fat, and muscle from the upper and/or lower eyelids. While the recovery process after eyelid surgery is generally straightforward, it’s important to follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions carefully to ensure optimal healing and results. One common question patients have is when and how they can resume their normal exercise routine after undergoing eyelid surgery.

Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anthony MacQuillan provides guidance on safely getting back to physical activity after blepharoplasty.

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The First Week after Blepharoplasty Surgery

Immediately after your eyelid surgery, you’ll need to rest and relax to allow your body to heal. Avoid any strenuous activity, heavy lifting, or bending for at least the first week post-op. Even light exercise like walking should be limited in the initial days after surgery” says Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anthony Macquillan

During this time, you may experience swelling, bruising, and discomfort around your eyes. To minimise these side effects and promote healing, Anthony recommends the following:

  • Apply cold compresses or ice packs to your eyes for 10-15 minutes every hour while awake for the first 2-3 days. This helps reduce swelling and bruising.
  • Keep your head elevated, even while sleeping, to minimise fluid retention and swelling. Sleep with an extra pillow or two.
  • Take pain medication as prescribed to manage any discomfort. Oral anti-inflammatory treatments may also be recommended.
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses or eye makeup until cleared to do so.
  • Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments so Anthony can monitor your healing progress.

Most patients take about a week off work to recover after eyelid surgery. By the end of the first week, bruising and swelling should improve significantly. However, some residual swelling may persist for a few more weeks.

Weeks 2-4 after Surgery

After the first week of recovery, you should start to feel more like yourself again. Bruising will likely be resolved, and swelling will continue to subside. This is when you can slowly begin to reincorporate light activity into your routine.

Light cardio exercises, like walking or using a stationary bike on a low resistance setting, can usually be resumed around 2 weeks post-op. Start with just 10-15 minutes of light activity and see how you feel. If your eyes feel comfortable and you don’t experience increased swelling, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts over the following weeks.

However, continue to avoid any exercises that put pressure on your eyes or require bending forward, such as yoga, pilates, or weightlifting. These activities increase blood flow to the head and can worsen swelling. Swimming should also be avoided until you are completely healed, usually around 6 weeks post-op, as pool water may contain bacteria that can cause infection.

After 3-4 weeks, if you are healing well, Anthony may clear you to resume more moderate exercises. You can increase the intensity of your cardio workouts and begin strength training exercises that keep your head upright, such as bicep curls, triceps extensions, and shoulder presses with light weights. Avoid lifting anything over 5-10 kgs.

Tips for Exercising After Eyelid Surgery

  • Wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen SPF 30 or higher to protect your eyelid skin if you are exercising outdoors. Your eyelid skin will be more sensitive to sun exposure after surgery.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your workouts. Adequate hydration can help minimise post-exercise swelling.
  • Listen to your body. If an exercise feels uncomfortable or you notice increased swelling after a workout, scale back and give yourself more time to heal.
  • Don’t wear eye makeup while exercising until fully healed to avoid irritation or infection.
  • Be patient. Don’t rush back into your pre-surgery exercise routine. Doing too much too soon can compromise your results and lead to complications.

Returning to Your Full Exercise Regimen

Around 4-6 weeks after surgery, most patients are healed enough to gradually resume their normal exercise routines, including more strenuous activities like running, high-impact aerobics, and heavy weight training. However, it’s important to get clearance from your surgeon before diving back into vigorous workouts.

At your one month post-op check-up, Anthony will assess your healing and let you know if you are ready to return to unrestricted activity. If everything looks good, you can slowly build back up to your pre-surgery exercise intensity over the following weeks.

It’s normal to still have some minor residual swelling at this point, which may be more noticeable after working out. Continue to stay hydrated and avoid wearing eye makeup while exercising if you find that your eyes still feel a bit sensitive.

Exercises to Avoid in the First Month after Blepharoplasty Surgery

After eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), it’s important to avoid certain exercises and activities that can increase the risk of complications, delay healing, or compromise your results. Here are some specific exercises and movements to steer clear of during the first month of recovery:

  1. High-impact cardio: Avoid exercises that involve running, jumping, or bouncing, such as jogging, high-impact aerobics, jumping jacks, or skipping rope. These activities can cause excessive jarring and facial movements that may disrupt your healing incisions, worsen swelling, or lead to bleeding. Stick to low-impact cardio like walking or stationary cycling instead.
  2. Weight lifting: Heavy weight training, especially exercises that involve bending forward or lying face-down (like bench presses or push-ups), should be avoided for at least a month after surgery. Lifting weights increases blood pressure and can cause a rush of blood to the head, which may exacerbate swelling and bruising around the eyes. Even exercises that keep your head upright, like bicep curls or shoulder presses, should be approached cautiously and with light weights only after a few weeks of healing.
  3. Swimming: While swimming is an excellent low-impact workout, it’s important to avoid submerging your face in water for at least a month after blepharoplasty. Pool, lake, or ocean water can contain bacteria that may cause infection in your healing incisions. Additionally, the pressure of the water against your face can be uncomfortable and may increase swelling. Stick to land-based exercises until you’re fully healed.
  4. Hot yoga or heated workouts: Exercises performed in hot, humid environments like Bikram yoga or heated spin classes should be avoided for at least a month post-op. The heat and sweating can increase inflammation, delay healing, and may cause your incisions to open up. Stick to non-heated, low-impact yoga or stretching routines instead.
  5. Contact sports: Any activities that involve a risk of facial impact or trauma, such as martial arts, boxing, football, or basketball, should be avoided for at least 6-8 weeks after surgery. A direct blow to the eye area can cause serious injury, bleeding, or even vision problems. If you participate in contact sports regularly, please discuss a safe return-to-play timeline with Anthony.
  6. Strenuous outdoor activities: Avoid exercises or activities that involve straining, grunting, or bearing down, such as heavy yard work, rock climbing, or power lifting. These movements can significantly raise blood pressure in the head and may cause bleeding or damage to your delicate eyelid tissues. Stick to light outdoor activities like leisurely walks or gentle gardening.
  7. Inversions or upside-down positions: Avoid any exercises or yoga poses that involve hanging your head below your heart, such as forward folds, handstands, or downward-facing dog. These inverted positions increase blood flow to the face and can worsen swelling or cause uncomfortable pressure around the eyes. If you typically include inversions in your yoga practice, wait at least a month before attempting them again.

Every patient’s recovery is unique, and some may heal faster or slower than others. Always listen to your body and pay attention to any signs of discomfort, excessive swelling, or other concerning symptoms. If an exercise doesn’t feel right or causes pain, stop immediately and contact Anthony’s practice for guidance.

By avoiding these high-risk exercises and activities during the initial month of recovery, you can help ensure a smoother, safer healing process and optimise your blepharoplasty results. Anthony and his team are always available to answer any questions you may have about post-operative activity restrictions and can provide personalised advice to help you safely resume your favourite workouts when the time is right.

FAQs about Exercise after Eyelid Surgery

Can I do facial exercises after eyelid surgery?

  • While some facial exercises, like gentle eye rolls and blinks, can usually be resumed within a few days after surgery to help relieve stiffness, it’s important to avoid more strenuous facial exercises for at least 3-4 weeks. Exercises that involve scrunching, squinting, or heavily engaging the eye area can put too much strain on your healing incisions and may increase swelling or discomfort. If you’re unsure about a particular facial exercise, it’s best to check with Anthony first. He can provide personalised guidance based on your individual healing progress.

What should I do if I accidentally exercise too hard after surgery?

  • If you accidentally engage in a more strenuous workout than you should have after eyelid surgery, don’t panic. Take a break from exercise for a few days and closely monitor your eyelids for any increased swelling, bruising, discomfort, or discharge. Apply cold compresses and take anti-inflammatory medication as directed to manage any flare-ups. If symptoms persist or worsen after a couple of days, contact Anthony’s office for further guidance. He may want to see you for an examination to ensure your healing stays on track.

Can I exercise my lower body while recovering from blepharoplasty?

  • In general, lower body exercises like walking, cycling, and low-resistance leg strength training can be resumed sooner than upper body exercises after eyelid surgery, usually within 2-3 weeks post-op. However, it’s important to start slowly and avoid any exercises that involve bending forward or lying face-down, as these positions can increase pressure and blood flow to the head and worsen swelling. It’s also crucial to listen to your body and stop if you feel lightheaded, nauseous, or experience increased discomfort around your eyes.

How can I tell if I’m ready to resume more intense workouts?

  • Most patients are ready to gradually resume more intense workouts, like running, jumping, and heavy weight training, around 4-6 weeks after eyelid surgery. However, it’s essential to get clearance from Anthony first. At your follow-up appointments, he will assess your healing progress and let you know when your eyelids are strong enough to handle the increased blood flow and physical stress of vigorous exercise. Some signs that you may be ready to ramp up your workouts include: fully healed incisions, minimal to no residual swelling or bruising, no lingering discomfort or sensitivity, and the ability to comfortably perform activities of daily living. If you’re still experiencing significant symptoms 4-6 weeks after surgery, you may need to wait a bit longer before resuming strenuous exercise.

Can I do eye-specific exercises to maintain my blepharoplasty results?

  • While there aren’t any specific eye exercises that have been proven to significantly improve or maintain blepharoplasty results long-term, some patients find that gentle eye exercises can help keep the eye area looking more awake and refreshed. Exercises like slow, controlled blinks, eye rolls, and gazing upward while raising your eyebrows may help subtly lift and tone the eyelid skin. However, it’s important to remember that the ageing process and other lifestyle factors like sun exposure, smoking, and diet often have a much greater impact on the long-term appearance of your eyelids than eye exercises. Maintaining a consistent skincare routine, wearing sunscreen daily, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep are all key for preserving the youthful, refreshed look achieved with blepharoplasty.

Further Reading about Eyelid Surgery with Anthony MacQuillan

Medical References about Eyelid Surgery Recovery