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How long do you have to sleep on your back after eyelid surgery?

Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of the upper or lower eyelids. During surgery, excess skin, muscle and fat are removed from the eyelids to give them a more youthful, rejuvenated look. Like any surgical procedure, proper aftercare is crucial for healing and preventing complications. One of the most important aftercare instructions is sleeping position.

Why sleep position matters after eyelid surgery

Sleeping on your back, known medically as the supine position, is generally recommended for the first 1-2 weeks after eyelid surgery. Sleeping on your side or stomach places pressure on the operated eyelids which can increase swelling, bruising and risk of bleeding. Sleeping upright helps minimize pressure on the sutures and incisions so they can heal properly.

Here are some key reasons why sleeping on your back is important after eyelid surgery:

  • Prevents pressure on incisions – Sleeping on your side or stomach can put direct pressure on the delicate eyelid incisions which are still healing. This can cause pain, swelling and risk of bleeding or infection in the wounds.
  • Reduces swelling – Gravity helps minimize swelling when you sleep upright on your back. This allows fluid drainage and reduces inflammation in the eyelids.
  • Lowers risk of hematoma – Sleeping upright reduces pressure and friction on the eyelids which lowers the risk of a hematoma (pocket of blood) forming under the incision.
  • Decreases bruising – With less pressure on the operated area, sleeping on your back can help decrease bruising around the eyes after surgery.
  • Improves wound healing – Overall, supine sleep helps wounds heal faster by allowing proper blood circulation and preventing excess inflammation or bleeding.

For these reasons, plastic surgeons strongly advise sleeping on your back for at least the first week or two after eyelid surgery while incisions are still fresh and healing is underway.

How long should you sleep on your back after eyelid surgery?

Most plastic surgeons recommend sleeping on your back for 1-2 weeks after eyelid surgery. However, the exact duration can vary based on factors such as:

  • Extent of surgery – More complex procedures or surgery on both upper and lower lids may require longer supine sleep.
  • Rate of healing – Everyone heals differently so your surgeon will tailor advice to your unique recovery.
  • Development of complications – Issues like bleeding or poor wound healing may necessitate more upright sleep.

Here are some general timelines for sleeping on your back after common eyelid procedures:

Upper blepharoplasty

For upper eyelid surgery alone, plastic surgeons typically recommend sleeping on your back for 1 week. After 7 days, light side sleeping may be okay as long as no pressure is placed on the operated eyelid.

Lower blepharoplasty

With lower eyelid surgery, back sleeping is often advised for 10-14 days. Lower lids involve more extensive incisions and delicate skin so extra precaution is needed.

Upper and lower blepharoplasty

If you have both upper and lower eyelid surgery, supine sleep for 2 full weeks is typically recommended. The combined procedures involve more surgical trauma so doctors prefer to “play it safe” with sleeping position for optimal healing.

Procedure Back sleeping duration
Upper blepharoplasty 1 week
Lower blepharoplasty 10-14 days
Upper and lower blepharoplasty 2 weeks

However, this timeline is not set in stone. Your individual recovery pace and surgeon’s recommendation takes precedence. Some patients heal very quickly and feel comfortable shifting sleep positions earlier. Others may experience bleeding, swelling or other issues that warrant prolonging supine sleep.

The key is to discuss sleeping guidelines with your surgeon and follow their specific instructions based on your unique case. Be sure to ask how long they want you to sleep on your back. Don’t prematurely change sleep positions without your doctor’s consent.

Tips for sleeping on your back after eyelid surgery

Sleeping on your back can feel unnatural, especially if you’re used to sleeping on your side or stomach. Here are some tips to sleep better in the supine position after eyelid surgery:

  • Use extra pillows to elevate your head and chest at a 30 degree incline. This takes pressure off the eyelids.
  • Place pillows under or beside your knees to get more comfortable and avoid back strain.
  • Try a U-shaped pregnancy pillow for support and to keep you from rolling onto your side.
  • Use an eye mask to block out light and wear earplugs for a better sleep environment.
  • Take pain medication before bedtime as advised by your surgeon to stay ahead of discomfort.
  • Try relaxation techniques like deep breathing to fall asleep more easily.
  • Catch up on sleep during the day with supine naps to compensate for lost sleep at night.

Let your surgeon know if you’re having significant issues sleeping on your back. They may adjust the surgical dressings or prescribe sleep aids to help you get the required rest for recovery.

What if you can’t sleep on your back?

Some people struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep on their back after surgery. Difficulty breathing and snoring are also common complaints with supine sleep position.

If back sleeping is proving very problematic, talk to your surgeon before changing position. There may be ways to make it more tolerable, like raising the head higher with more pillows. Usually, a brief period of light side sleeping is permitted if:

  • Approved by your surgeon
  • The operated eyelid faces up
  • A protective eye shield is worn to prevent rubbing

This allows some pressure relief while still protecting the operated eyelid. However, you should still maximize back sleeping as much as possible within your surgeon’s guidelines.

When can you sleep on your side after eyelid surgery?

Here are general guidelines on when you can start sleeping on your side after eyelid surgery:

  • After 1 week – Light side sleeping may be permitted for upper blepharoplasty if approved by your surgeon. The operated eye should face up and be protected from pressure.
  • After 2 weeks – If healing well, side sleeping may be allowed for lower or combined upper/lower blepharoplasty. Use caution to avoid putting pressure on operated eyelids.
  • After 3-4 weeks – Most patients are cleared for unrestricted side sleeping by 1 month after surgery as long as healing has progressed normally.

Some plastic surgeons are very conservative and advise waiting 6 weeks before sleeping on your side. This allows the tissues to fully stabilize after disruption from surgery. Listen to your surgeon’s specific guidance.

When can you sleep on your stomach after eyelid surgery?

Sleeping on your stomach is generally discouraged for 6 weeks after eyelid procedures. The prone position places a lot of direct pressure on the healing eyelids. Your surgeon will likely prohibit stomach sleeping for 1-2 months post-op.

Once given the all-clear, you can resume your preferred sleeping positions. Just be cautious of any lingering numbness or tenderness around the operated eyelids. Let your body be your guide and avoid positions that cause discomfort or uneven pressure on the eyes.


Sleeping on your back after eyelid surgery is critically important for proper wound healing and reducing complications like bleeding or poor incision scarring. Most plastic surgeons advise supine sleep for 1-2 weeks, though individual recommendations may vary.

Be diligent about following your surgeon’s specific postoperative instructions, including duration of back sleeping. With careful aftercare, you can look forward to smooth healing and enjoying the rejuvenated look you desire from blepharoplasty.