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Post-Operative Instructions

Post-operative instructions may vary for each individual patient. Please ask your doctor for your own personalized set of post-operative instructions. Do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions. We wish you a speedy recovery!


Apply gentle ice packs to the surgical area for 30 minutes out of every hour for the first 72 hours while you are awake.

  • Ice helps with pain, decreases swelling, and reduces bruising. Ice does not help as much after 72 hours. Do not put ice cubes directly on your skin. Put green peas in a ziplock bag. Moisten gauze with distilled water and put the wet gauze between your eyelids and the bag of peas.

Sleep on your back with your head elevated above your heart for 1 week after surgery.

  • Keeping your head elevated will reduce swelling after surgery.
  • The easiest way to do this is simply with an extra pillow. It is common for wounds to ooze the first few days, so you may want to cover your pillow with an old towel. You may also choose to sleep in a recliner chair if you have one. This will help prevent you from rolling on to your side while sleeping.
  • If you cannot do this because of back or breathing problems, that is ok, but you will notice more swelling in the morning.
  • If your head rolls to the side when you sleep, you will notice that the side facing downward will have more swelling due to gravity.

Do not bend with your head below your heart, lift things heavier than a gallon of milk, or do anything strenuous for 1 week.

  • A sudden increase in blood pressure is the #1 reason to have substantial bleeding after surgery. While rare, bleeding behind the eye after surgery can cause permanent vision loss. Avoiding these activities will help prevent this complication.
  • Wear slip-on shoes (don’t bend over to pull up socks or tie shoes). Have someone help you with the dishes and laundry if you have to bend over to do them. If you have a dog, avoid bending to clean up after him or her.
  • You may resume your regular activities including your regular exercise routine on Day 8 after surgery.

Wear the eye shield(s) every night at bedtime for a full two weeks after surgery.

  • The surgical wounds are fragile for 2 weeks after surgery. Accidentally rubbing them during sleep is the most common way a wound will accidentally open after surgery (see the “Common Questions” section for what to do if you think your wound has opened).

Avoid getting shower water or tap water on your wounds for 7 days.

  • This is important for preventing infection. There have been increasing reports of surgical wound infections from tap water.
  • You may wash your hair with distilled water (available at drugstores and grocery stores). You may also wash your hair in the shower if you can tip your head back and let the water run down the back of your head rather than down your face. Some women choose to have their hair washed at a salon or use Dry Shampoo.
  • After 1 week, you can shower normally, but do not rub your eyelids, forehead, or cheek because the wounds are still healing. Gently pat dry the area. Rubbing the wounds after showering is the second most common way a wound will accidentally open after surgery.

Avoid hot tubs, saunas, ocean/lake water, and swimming pools for 2 weeks.

  • This is important to prevent infection. Soaking the wounds also weakens them in the first two weeks.

Do not smoke for at least 14 days after surgery.

  • Smoking decreases blood flow to the wounds and delays healing. If your surgery included Mohs reconstruction, smoking can cause the reconstruction to completely fail.
  • Of course, quitting smoking is the best for your health! There’s no time like now. Ask your doctor for help quitting if you’re ready.

No driving for at least 48 hours after surgery. No driving if you are in pain, if your vision is blurry, or if you are taking narcotic pain medication.


You may eat immediately after surgery. Start with a gentle diet.

  • Lingering effects of your anesthesia can lead to an upset stomach. Start with clear liquids. Avoid advancing to a regular diet until you are certain you are feeling okay. Plain crackers or toast with a non-caffeinated carbonated beverage like Sprite is often a good place to start. Notify us if you start having severe nausea or vomiting, which can cause re-bleeding with increased swelling and bruising.

 Avoid drinking alcohol for 1 week after surgery.

  • Alcohol will delay healing, increase swelling, increase bruising, and increase the risk of bleeding after surgery.

Avoid salty and processed foods for 2 weeks after surgery.

  • Salt increases swelling, which makes healing take longer.


Resume all oral medications after surgery unless instructed otherwise.

Resume your physician prescribed blood thinners as directed after surgery.

  • If you normally take aspirin, fish oil, flax oil, omega-3s, or vitamin E for your general health (not prescribed by a physician), wait 1 week before restarting to prevent bleeding and worsening bruising.

Use the antibiotic ointment on your stitches or wounds 4 times per day for 7 days.

  • This keeps the wounds moist to promote healing and prevents infection. The ointment will not hurt your eye if it gets in the eye (it is formulated for use in the eye), but it will make the vision blurry because it is greasy.
  • Apply the ointment with a clean fingertip or a Q-tip.
  • Do not apply the ointment right before driving as it will blur the vision if it gets in your eye.
  • After 7 days, you may apply a small amount of Vaseline on your incisions at bedtime for 1 month.

If you have pain, try taking Extra Strength Tylenol (500mg) as instructed on the bottle.

  • It is normal to have some pain after surgery. The pain should improve on a daily basis.
  • Do not take Tylenol if you have liver disease. Do not take Tylenol while drinking alcohol.
  • If your pain does not improve to a manageable level, please contact our office for assistance.

Do not take NSAID pain relievers for 7 days after surgery as they can increase the risk of bleeding.

  • NSAID medications include ibuprofen, Advil, naproxen, Aleve.

 Take the anti-nausea medication as needed. Follow the instructions on the bottle.

  • Follow the diet advice above if you have nausea. Notify us if you start having severe nausea or vomiting, which can cause re-bleeding with increased swelling and bruising.

You may wish to use a gentle over the counter stool softener (such as Colace) to prevent constipation.

  • It is common to have constipation after surgery. It is also common for narcotic pain medications to cause constipation.


  • A decrease in vision or double vision.
  • Uncontrolled bleeding that will not stop with gentle pressure.
  • Pain or nausea that is not controlled with medication.
  • Signs of infection including redness, pus-like discharge, warmth, and pain.
  • Fever greater than 100F.
  • Any other concerns.