Plastic Surgery 101

Is persistant swelling normal after eye surgery?

Q. I had my eyes done approximately one month ago and I'm still swollen. My doctor tells me that this is normal and that some people have more swelling than others. Is this true or is he covering up?

A. Your doctor is telling you the truth. The swelling should pass with time. In more than 30 years of performing surgery, I have found that no two patients heal the same. I have had twin sisters who underwent the same procedure but had a completely different post-operative course with respect to swelling. Ultimately they both had the same results.

Before they undergo surgery, I try to explain to patients the average time that it will take for them to resume normal activities and for swelling to completely go away. Some patients heal quicker and some heal slower, but generally 80 percent of the people heal within the time allotted.

When patients don't heal as quickly as they feel they should, the job of the surgeon is to hold the patient's hand and let them know that it will get better. Your physician will try to find reasons why this is happening, but more often there is no other reason than things “just happen.’’ As frustrating as it is for the patient, it's even more frustrating as a physician because there's nothing to do!

In general, I tell my patients that they will look “reasonably normal” within a week to 10 days of most facial surgery procedures. They should plan, however, at least four weeks if they have a major event. Even with that set of instructions there are people who still remain swollen. Having confidence in your doctor and knowing that he/she is following you, should give you a sense of comfort.

Dr. Carlos Wolf is a partner in Miami Plastic Surgery and is board certified. Email him at