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Minor eyelid surgery

Patient information A-Z

Who is the leaflet for? What is its aim?

This leaflet is intended to provide you with information about your minor eyelid surgery in the Ophthalmology Department at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Why have I been given an appointment for minor eyelid surgery?

The commonest reason to have minor surgery on the eyelid is to deal with a lesion (lump or bump) on the eyelid. Depending on the nature of the lesion, it may be removed by cutting it off, shaving it off, or simply removing the contents using a small scoop.

Very rarely, a cyst on the eyelid may be treated with a steroid injection into the lesion to resolve it. If appropriate, a sample may be taken from the lesion and sent to the pathologists to confirm the diagnosis, if this is uncertain; this is referred to as a ‘biopsy’.

Occasionally, the minor surgery appointment may be because the opening to the tear duct is too small or falling away from the eye, causing watering and requiring attention.

How long will my operation take?

Most minor procedures last less than 20 minutes. However, you should allow an hour and a half for your visit because of standard processes/ checks which need to be followed before and after the surgery.

Some eyelid lesions resolve spontaneously and we may decide on the day of surgery that your procedure is not required. Please contact the bookings team to notify them in advance if your lesion has resolved; otherwise please keep your appointment if there is any doubt.

What will the operation involve?

The precise procedure will depend on the nature of the lesion being treated. Minor eyelid operations are usually done under a local anaesthetic, with a small injection into the eyelid to numb the skin. You will be awake for the surgery. The injection will be a little uncomfortable and feel like a bee sting, but the eyelid skin will go numb within a few seconds. Although you will feel light touch and pressure, there should be no pain. For eyelid cysts a small clamp may be applied to the eyelid to facilitate the surgery – this should not hurt. If you have had an abnormal reaction to a local anaesthetic injection in the past, it is important to inform the doctor.

You may have to lie flat and you should keep still for the duration of the procedure. Please have your breakfast (or lunch) as usual and take your usual medication, unless you are advised otherwise.

What should I expect after the operation?

  • Although you can drive to the appointment, you should have a passenger who can drive you home, since you should not drive yourself after the appointment.
  • You may or may not have a few fine stitches, which are usually self-dissolving.
  • In most cases, a pressure pad will be applied to the eye to reduce swelling, bleeding and bruising.
  • If a pressure dressing is used, you should remove it the following day unless you are advised otherwise.
  • Do not be unduly alarmed if there is some swelling or bruising.
  • The local anaesthetic usually wears off after one hour, and the eyelid may feel a little uncomfortable.
  • Once the dressing is removed, the eyelid can be carefully cleaned with some cooled boiled water and cotton wool balls or cotton gauze.
  • You can shower normally, but pat the eye dry carefully.
  • You may or may not require a follow-up appointment in the outpatient clinic after the surgery and will be advised accordingly.
  • You can return to work, or normal activities, the next day but it is best to avoid swimming for a fortnight.


Please bring a list of your medicines or a current repeat prescription from your general practitioner (GP). You will be given some antibiotic drops or ointment with advice on how to apply it to the operated eye or wound for a few days after the operation. You may need to use a simple painkiller, such as paracetamol, if the eye or wound is uncomfortable.

Contacts/ Further information

Please contact the theatre bookings team in the Eye Department on 01223 274863 if you have any queries regarding your appointment for surgery. For urgent post-operative concerns please contact the Emergency Eye Service on 01223 217778.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151