Chemosis after Eyelid Surgery

Written by Frank P. Fechner, MD

Chemosis represents a condition where the conjunctiva swells excessively. The eyes show a gelatinous and almost translucent layer which appears like it could be easily wiped away. It is usually painless, not dangerous and always resolves. Although this can be associated with many medical conditions, it is most commonly seen after facial trauma and surgery . Chemosis can occur with after any plastic surgery around the eyes, it develops most frequently after lower eyelid lifts.  It is very rare if only the upper eyelids have been treated. If further eyelid procedures have been performed such as canthopexy, canthoplasty or facelifts, chemosis may be more common.

In general, chemosis after blepharoplasty is very rare. In the less than a handfull of patients we have encountered chemosis, it resolved after 4 to 6 weeks spontaneously. Ophtholmologists will simetimes treat with steroids or other medications (i.e., diuretics); good scientific evidence for the efficacy of these medications for chemosis is lacking. We have found conservative lubricating eye care to be sufficient. The literature and colleagues of mine report patients in whom chemosis lasted 9 to 12 months after blepharoplasty…

In general, chemosis will stress both, the patient’s and surgeon’s patience alike but it will resolve eventually.