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Surgical Versus Non-Surgical Upper Eyelid Correction: Is the Latter Safer?
non surgical versus surgical upper eyelid surgery treatments

Surgical Versus Non-Surgical Upper Eyelid Correction: Is the Latter Safer?

Aging is an inevitable process our body has to undergo over time. While continuous use of eyelid muscle causes it to stretch and lengthen, other factors speed up the process of damage. These factors include sun damage, excessive rubbing of the eyes, too much makeup, and atmospheric pollution.

Even though other parts of the face and body are also affected, these changes are also noticeable on and around your eyes. This is because of the delicate structures near your eyes and the sensitive skin over them.

Whatever the reason, the droopy eyelids can lead to various eye health issues, including inward eyelashes, irritation, discomfort in the eyes, and visual impairment. However, droopy eyelids, also called ptosis, is treatable!

There are numerous methods to resolve droopy eyelids that include surgical and non-surgical approaches. The best method for you primarily depends on the severity of your case and your personal preferences. This article will discuss the surgical (non-incisional and incisional upper eyelid surgery) and non-surgical techniques, any associated risks, and the difference between them.

Most Common Upper Eyelid Surgery

Upper eyelid surgery is performed for both aesthetic and functional reasons. According to the American Society of Aesthetic Surgeons, in 2014, blepharoplasty was the fourth most common aesthetic procedure in the USA, with 165,000 cases performed.

A. What Kind of Concerns Surgery Can Address?

While people may undergo plastic surgery for a particular treatment – correction of eyelid surgery, their purposes can differ. Some people want their eyes to look bigger and more appealing, whereas others might have eye health concerns. Upper eyelid surgery is a cosmetic procedure that can fulfill all of these aspects.

It can be utilized to address the following aesthetic concerns include:

  • Remove excess skin and fat on upper eyelid
  • Tightening loose upper eyelid muscles
  • Redefining the double eyelid crease
  • Make the eyes appear more awake and rejuvenated

Medical concern includes droopy eyelids covering the eyes and impeding vision. This problem can give rise to other health conditions. People with droopy eyelids have to repeatedly raise their eyebrows and tilt their heads backward for better vision, leading to persistent headaches and problems in their neck.

Droopy eyelids can occur due to excess skin or weak levator muscle of the eye, both of which can be addressed by non-incisional and incisional upper eyelid surgery, respectively.

B. Non-Incisional Upper Eyelid Surgery

non incisional upper eyelid surgeryNon-incisional upper eyelid surgery is a procedure that does not make use of scalpels to cut the upper eyelid. This procedure is done for mild cases of droopy eyelids, and sutures are utilized to tauten the skin and muscles over the eyelids to create a crease, resulting in an eyelift. The procedure is quick, and a board-certified surgeon takes 30 minutes to complete it. The recovery period after the procedure is about 7 days.

What’s more? It is a less invasive method, as compared to incisional surgery, and offers significantly shorter recovery time while producing natural-looking results.

The non-incisional upper eyelid surgery does not remove too much excess skin. Thus, it generally targets individuals with minor drooping of the upper eyelids and lean upper eyelids. The risks associated with this procedure are minimal and include:

  • Minimum scarring
  • Easy reversibility
  • Faster recovery
  • Minor edema
  • Quick procedure
  • Subtle yet noticeable results

C. Incisional Upper Eyelid Surgery

incisional upper eyelid surgeryIn moderate to severe cases of droopy eyelids, incisional corrective upper eyelid surgery is performed. This procedure includes the trimming of the extensively lengthened and overstretched eye muscles. The shortened muscles are then pinned upwards and sutured. This results in tightening of the muscles, elimination of excess skin and fat, and redefined upper eyelids – which lift higher when opened. This procedure takes about 60 – 90 minutes to complete and is done under light sedation. Its recovery period is 10-14 days, and stitch removal is done 7 days postoperatively.

Risks that might be associated with incisional upper eyelid surgery include:

  • Dryness and irritation in the eyes
  • Bruising and swelling (generally subside in 10 to 14 days)
  • Scarring (fades away in a few months)
  • Infection and bleeding
  • Difficulty closing your eyes
  • Injury to eye muscles
  • Discoloration of the skin over the eyes
  • Reaction to anesthesia and blood clots

The results of upper eyelid surgery offer a more youthful appearance with bigger eyes and unobstructed vision. These results might last longer for some individuals, while for others, retreatment may be needed in the future.

3. Non-Surgical Upper Eyelid Corrections

Non-surgical upper eyelid correction can address laxity and loss of texture of the skin on the upper eyelids. However, its results are not permanent and need frequent repeated sessions.

Types Of Non-Surgical Upper Eyelid Treatments

Although there are various surgical options available, non-surgical upper eyelid treatments are also becoming more prevalent. These treatment options aim to create a lift underneath the skin by using injections or fillers without the need for a surgical procedure. Like surgical eye treatments, the type of non-surgical eye lifts depends on your case, needs, budget, and overall health. Your doctor can help you make an informed decision.

Although non-surgical treatments are non-invasive, there are some risks associated with them. These include itchiness, redness, bleeding, soreness, numbness, nerve injuries, rash, bruising, infection, droopy eyebrows or eyelids, scarring, and hyperpigmentation. Various types of non-surgical upper eyelid treatments are as follows:

I. Thermage Radio-Frequency Treatment

thermage eye treatmentRadio-frequency treatments for upper eyelid lift can stimulate collagen production. This helps your skin to decrease wrinkles from the cellular level. While performing this treatment, a board-certified plastic surgeon uses a device that emits ultrasound waves to incite collagen production at the treatment site. It takes an hour or two to complete, depending upon the size of the area under treatment. The results of this treatment can be seen immediately after treatment or within a few days after the procedure.

This procedure employs the use of radio-frequency to lift and tighten saggy skin on and around your eyes. Radio frequency stimulates the natural healing response of the body, enhancing collagen synthesis and elastin production. The outcomes of this procedure are achieved due to your body’s thermal reaction to the radio-frequency applied to the skin tissues. These include tighter skin, decreased fine lines, and a redefined eye contour.

II. Ultrasound Treatment

Ultrasound therapy is an FDA-approved non-surgical procedure in which ultrasound energy is used to promote collagen production in the skin to produce a lifting effect. This procedure makes use of the body’s regenerative potential that is augmented through the ultrasound energy. When used over the eyebrows, it tightens the lids and improves the appearance of the upper eyelids.

It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to prepare the skin, then another 30 to 45 minutes for the procedure to complete. A numbing cream is applied to the skin before the treatment to make the session less uncomfortable.

The downtime of ultrasound therapy is zero, and its effects can be seen almost immediately. You can return to your regular routine immediately after the treatment. However, you may feel slight bruising and tenderness in the treatment area, but it will resolve within a couple of days. You may need to wait for 2 to 3 weeks for the natural response of collagen production to kick in. The final outcome is a natural-looking, lifted upper-eyelid, giving your eyes a bigger and rejuvenated appearance.

III. Botox

botox injection for treating droopy eyelidsBotox treatment is an FDA-approved procedure that involves the use of botulinum toxin to treat droopy eyelids, wrinkles, frown lines, forehead lines, as well as crow’s feet (wrinkles at the corner of the eyes).

Injected with the right dose and technique, the Botox technique lifts your brows while giving a natural and rejuvenated look. The injection causes the eyelid muscles to relax thus, decreasing their ability to depress and giving a lift of up to two millimeters.

In general, the botulinum toxin in Botox blocks the nerve signals to a muscle that prevents its contraction and allows it to relax thereby, fading the lines and wrinkles. When used on the eyelid, botox injection reduces the sagginess of the eyelids. Even though this technique makes use of injections, most patients feel minimal or no pain at all. Topical anesthesia can be applied before the procedure to reduce the pricking sensation for people who fear injections. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the procedure to be completed.

It can take approximately two weeks for full results to show. The outcomes typically last for three to six months. Repeated sessions might then be needed to enhance the effects. The downtime of the procedure is zero, but you may observe redness over the treated area for only a few minutes.

IV. Plexr

The non-invasive device called Plexr utilizes the ionization potential of gases present in the air to form plasma. Plasma is the fourth state of matter that produces a small electric arc with enough energy to treat the problematic areas without disseminating unnecessary heat to the surrounding skin tissues. As a result, this offers minimal collateral skin damage, and this device can be used on all skin types to treat sagging upper eyelids.

Moreover, it doesn’t involve using a scalpel or laser to eliminate excess skin, making it a dynamic method during which the clinician can ask patients to open and close their eyes intraoperatively. Prior to the procedure, topical anesthesia is applied to the upper eyelids and left for 30 minutes.

The Plexr device is placed at a certain distance from the eyelid to create 500-micron pots that sublimate the eyelids’ skin without damaging the basement membrane and the surrounding tissues. As a result, immediate contraction of excessive skin occurs, resulting in a lifting effect.

You may need more than one session over a couple of weeks, depending on the amount of excess skin to get noticeable results. The effects of this treatment last for about 9 to 12 months. There might be some soreness and swelling on the treated skin after the treatment, which usually fades away within 7 days postoperatively.

V. Fillers

Dermal filler is a procedure in which skin-lifting injectables fill in the skin lines and wrinkles. Some of the well-known filler brands that work greatly include Juvederm, Radiesse, and Restylane.

This treatment procedure only takes a couple of minutes to complete and has no downtime. You will see immediate results. However, people may experience mild side effects like redness. Supplementary sessions may be required in the future to maintain these results.

The Difference of Cost and Frequency of Non-Surgical Versus Surgical Upper Eyelid Treatments

Repeated sessions of non-surgical upper eyelid treatments are needed to maintain their results. On the other hand, the results of surgical upper eyelid treatments are long-lasting and durable – while requiring repeated sessions less frequently or not required at all.

The cost of non-surgical therapies varies from individual to individual, depending on numerous factors discussed earlier. On average, it ranges from $200 to 1200 for different procedures, the number of sessions, the surgeon’s expertise, and the locality of your chosen clinical setting.

As for the surgical procedures, their costs range from $2000-4000 for one eyelid (upper or lower) and from $3000-6000 when both upper and lower eyelids are treated.


If you have a mild case, and repeated sessions are not a problem for you to take, you can go for non-surgical methods. On the contrary, if your case is severe and you don’t want to undergo repeat-procedures, incisional upper eyelid surgery may be the right choice for you.

You should schedule an appointment with your surgeon and make a well-informed decision after considering professional advice. In the end, whichever treatment you end up selecting, it is very important to get it done by an experienced and certified surgeon, like the ones at Dream Plastic Surgery, for optimal results and minimal risk of surgical complications.

About Dream Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery

Bespoke surgical for cosmetic or medical reasons is what Dream covers to bring out the beauty in every individual. Going beyond the aesthetics and working on physical anomalies are what we value the most in leading our patients to cherish self-improvement and confident lifestyles.

Derived from Associate Professor Vincent Yeow’s long-standing experience performing plastic surgery in Singapore, our treatment plans deliver physical remodelling in our patients’ favour. One of the notable remodellings is droopy eyelid correction. The ptosis surgery used for treatment eventually fixes drooping eyelids, improves vision and enhances appearance.

Most importantly, as a trustworthy plastic surgery and aesthetic clinic, we treasure positive and natural outcomes for each individual. We will ensure to deliver the beauty refinement of your dream without compromising your safety and privacy.


1.Hannan C. Is It Possible to Get an Eyebrow Lift Without Surgery? Healthline. Jan, 2020.
2.Blepharoplasty. Mayo Clinic. June, 2020.
3.Docherty E. How to Get an Eyelid Lift Without Surgery? Beauty Crew. Jan, 2020.