Basal Cell Carcinoma on Lower Eyelid Surgery and Recovery
This post may contain affiliate links provided for your convenience. We earn commissions if you shop through the links on this page. I am also an Amazon Associate and earn from qualifying purchases Read my full disclosure policy.
When you hear that you have basal cell carcinoma on your eyelid it is scary. Let me jump to the end – my story has a happy ending. Whew! A few weeks ago I shared the beginning of my story with basal cell carcinoma on the lower eyelid. I’ll be honest, it was a scary procedure. And doubly scary because it was all performed on my eye! Spoiler alert – everything turned out fine and my eye looks great. Unless you’re uncomfortably close to my face, you’d never know that anything was done to my lower eyelid, let alone that more than a third of it was removed. In case you’re facing basal cell carcinoma on the lower eyelid, let me tell you all about my experience with the surgery and recovery.
About the time that I had my complicated appendectomy, I noticed a “stye” on my lower eyelid. I was busy healing from the apendectormy and so I didn’t worry much about the stye since I’ve had them before. A couple of months later, I had some unusual reactions associated with my stye that caused me to go to my family practice doctor. Two different doctors in the practice saw my stye and treated it as a “normal” stye. Finally I was referred me to an ophthalmologist. As soon as the ophthalmologist saw my stye, he suspected that it was basal cell carcinoma .
Let me start by stressing that I am not a physician and I have no medical expertise. I am only sharing my personal experience. You should consult with your physician for every aspect of your personal medical situation. As a layman, I use layman’s terms and not medical terminology.
Next let me stress do not google basal cell carcinoma images. Just don’t do it (ask me how I know). It won’t help. Reading about it and talking with your physician is more than enough. I’ve spoken to another woman, that has recently gone through this same surgery. She did google the images and said she cried after seeing those images and wished that she hadn’t seen them. However, she did feel that it helped prepare her when her doctor showed her images of her own eye during the surgical process. I’d prefer to simply ask not to see the images of my eye and to not google them (you can’t unsee them).
Basal Cell Carcinoma on the Lower Eyelid – Surgery and Recovery
My surgery was done in two steps. The Mohs surgery removal of the basal cell carcinoma and then the reconstruction surgery.
Mohs Surgery – is the process that removes the basal cell carcinoma. It’s a balancing act between removing enough to get all the cancer and have clear margins (which means edges with no cancer cells) and not taking too much extra skin. My Mohs surgery was performed by a dermatologist. I was seated in a large padded chair, much like a dentist chair, and alert the entire procedure.
The Mohs surgery was similar to the biopsy when it came to the pain level. I was given the same numbing shot in my lower eyelid that I described in my part one of basal cell carcinoma on the lower eyelid. Because it’s a local anesthesia, I was totally wide awake for the procedure.
I requested the same shield to cover my eyeball that I had for my biopsy. It’s almost like a sunglasses lens that is placed over your eyeball. It was slightly uncomfortable physically, but gave me psychological peace during the process. Truly the worst part of the procedure is the fact that it’s all done on your eye! The physical pain and discomfort is tolerable, it’s the psychological stress that was most difficult for me. The protective lens made the process a bit easier.
After my eyelid was numbed, the dermatologist removed a “U” shaped piece of my lower eyelid. Although the surgery was done on my eyelid, I couldn’t really see what was happening. The bright lights obscured details and everything was too close to my eyes for me to be able to focus on it. I could see general movement and shadows, but no details (and that was probably a very good thing!).
The specimen that had been removed was then taken to the lab to make sure that the margins were clear. I sat and waited in the procedure room until the results came back. It took approximately 30 to 40 minutes to find out the results. The margins were not clear so the doctor performed the procedure a second time. Again, I sat and waited until the lab examined the margins of the sample. I was told that on average it takes 3 to 4 tries before they obtain clear margins, but can take more. I was fortunate that it only took two times for me to obtain clear margins.
Once we were notified of the clear margins, the nurse placed a bandage over my lower eyelid and I was released to go to the outpatient procedure area for the reconstruction surgery.
Eyelid Reconstruction Surgery – once the carcinoma was removed, the gap needed to be closed so that my eyelid will function properly and look correct. My reconstruction surgery was performed by an ocuoplastic surgeon (an ophthalmologist that specializes in plastic surgery involving the eye).
The reconstruction required general anesthesia. At the military hospital where my surgeries were performed, there was a 4-hour wait before my reconstruction surgery. That was tough because the bandage on my lower eyelid was extremely uncomfortable. The tape was poking into my eye every time I blinked. Yes, go ahead and say, “Just don’t blink” and then you try not to blink for 4 hours. Once we figured out the tape was causing the discomfort, the nurse simply removed the bandage and I felt much better.
I had been told that there were three options for the reconstructive surgery. The ocuoplastic surgeon wouldn’t know which procedure would be needed until she saw how much of my eyelid had been removed. The three options I was told about were:
Let me remind you that I am not a medical professional, this is my layman’s understanding of the procedures.
- First Level – Simply pull the edges of the gap closed. This would be the option if only a minimal portion of my eyelid was removed.
- Second Level – The edges of the opening would be pulled together and closed. But if the gap was larger than in the first level option and they simply pulled the edges together, the eyelid would flip inside out as it healed. To prevent that, my lower eyelid would be sewn shut to hold it in place while it healed for one week.
- Third Level – If the gap was too large to be pulled together, it would require a skin graft. For details, ask your doctor if this option may apply to you. I will tell you that it involved having your eye sewn shut for several weeks.
Before you get too upset about these options, you don’t really have a choice. You must remove the basal cell carcinoma. It will only continue to grow. If you remove it now, with clear margins, you will be fine. However, if you don’t remove it, it will continue to grow and create an even more complicated surgery and reconstruction process later.
When I woke up from the surgery I found out that I had needed the second level reconstruction. I really couldn’t feel anything. My eye was bandaged and I was groggy. I went home that evening. I don’t think I even took aspirin or a pain reliever. I simply went to bed early.
I was told to leave the bandage on until the next day (and goodness knows that was fine with me). I was nervous about seeing my eye (who wouldn’t be?!) But by the next day, I was ready to take that bandage off because it was itchy and uncomfortable. As much as I wanted to remove the bandage, I was still really nervous to see what my eyelid looked like.
I’ll be honest. It was a bit startling, but not because of any incisions, stitches or ghoulish stuff. I actually could barely see the incision and stitches because my upper eyelid was sewn shut and my upper eyelashes covered the incision. What was startling was that there was a small white pad with a knot in the middle of it on my upper lid. As I understand it, there were long threads of stitches from my lower lid up through my upper lid and tied off on my upper lid (all underneath my eyelid except for the small knot on top of the pad). This held the lower lid in place and in shape so that as it healed it didn’t turn inside out. The pad was to prevent the tied stitches from tearing through my upper lid. Once I got over being startled by the square pad, it was not at all ghoulish, just surprising.
I kept the area moist with the ointment I was given. It helped keep both the upper and lower eyelid more comfortable during the healing process.
Now let me be honest – the healing process was very uncomfortable. It was not painful, but was uncomfortable and tedious. The discomfort was caused by:
- My lower eyelid felt sore as it was healing. Again, let me stress it was not painful, just very sore, like a deep bruise.
- My upper eyelid was also sore by the end of the second day. It was sore because the threads holding the lower lid shut to the upper lid pulled on the center of my eyelid. You can imagine how delicate your upper eyelid is when something it tugging on it 24-7. Again, not painful, but a soreness that got stronger as each day went by. It felt like I’d been beaten up (or what I imagine it feels like to be beaten up).
- I felt discomfort on my eyeball from the stitches. It felt like a piece of twine was running under my eyelids. This sensation apparently was the stitches holding the lower lid to the upper lid. Each time I moved my good eye, my sewn shut eye moved with it, of course. Over time it felt like a piece of rough twine was rubbing across my sewn shut eyeball. It was extremely irritating. No damage was done to my sewn shut eyeball, but I did wonder at the time what all that irritation was doing to my eyeball.
Tips for When Your Eye Is Sewn Shut
- Small bags of frozen peas will be your best friend. I bought a large bag of frozen peas and split it up into about 8 snack size zippered plastic bags. The peas molded comfortably to the contours of my eye socket. Please be sure to check with your physician before using ice packs on your surgical site. Using the ice packs reduced swelling (I really didn’t have much swelling) and made the soreness and irritation feel better. I simply rotated my 8 bags of peas so that there was always a frozen bag ready to use. I can’t stress how much the frozen pea ice packs helped with the discomfort.
- Keep both eyes closed as much as you can. Although I could certainly use my good eye to whatever I felt up to, I found it most comfortable to keep both eyes shut much of the time.
- By keeping both eyes shut, it prevented the sewn shut eye from moving with my good eye and becoming more irritated by the twine like stitches rubbing across my eyeball. That meant lots of naps and laying still with my eyes closed.
- Keeping both eyes shut also reduced the pulling on my sewn shut upper eyelid. Every time I opened my good eye, my sewn shut eyelid tried to open instinctively. That tugged on the stitches and the pad holding my upper lid closed and over time that became very sore. Then every time I opened my good eye, the tugging on my sore sewn shut eyelid hurt more. Eventually, I just tried to keep both eyes shut as much as I could.
- Lay with your head raised. I slept with an extra pillow. This seemed to help reduce the swelling and resulting pressure. Please check with your physician first.
- Only open your good eye part way and peek out the bottom of your eye. When I did need to open my good eye, I only opened it slightly, lifted my head up and peeked out of the bottom of my eye. This minimized the discomfort from the tugging on my sewn shut eyelid and my sewn shut eyeball rubbing under those stitches. I was able to see enough to walk around the house, eat, shower, etc, but it was not very comfortable to watch T.V. Watching videos on a tablet was a bit better.
- Get books on tape or have someone read to you. Because it was more comfortable to keep my eyes closed and because a week is a long time to live with your eyes closed, my sweet daughter read to me aloud. Alot! It was wonderful to share that time with her, but I wished that I had gotten a bunch of books on tape so that she got a bit of a break and I wasn’t going stir-crazy when she couldn’t read to me (darn school and homework!).
One Week After Surgery
One long week later, I went back to the doctor’s office to have my eye opened. I was nervous because, well, it’s my eye! and it was very sore after the surgery and being sewn shut. But it took seconds for the doctor to snip the stitches and didn’t hurt at all. I was a bit scared to open my eye, but it opened just like normal and worked perfectly. In that opening and the next couple of blinks it was almost like the past week had never happened. Then the doctor handed me a mirror and my eye looked perfect. The upper and lower lid were a bit bruised and I had black stitches on my lower lid (it looked kinda like Alice Cooper eye make-up), but my lower eyelid looked perfect! And it worked perfectly! Within seconds if felt almost normal again.
I was mildly bruised for a couple of weeks. But given what my eye had been through, the bruising was really nothing. This photo is three weeks after my surgery.
Stitches – I had internal stitches left in my lower eyelid. One of my stitches made it’s way out through my eyelid. My doctor told me this was unusual, but does happen. It wasn’t painful, just a bit startling. It looked like a hairbrush bristle coming out of the edge of my lower eyelid. It ended up just falling right out. No big deal.
My doctor advised me to gently massage the scar a few weeks after the surgery. Please check with your physician before you do anything involving your incision or scar. As I understand it, this helped prevent scar tissue from building up (you know how sometimes a scar creates a ridge once it heals). I can tell you that there is no scar at all visible on my eyelid. There is a tiny divot on the edge of my eyelid. But you have to get uncomfortably close and know exactly where to look to notice it. I’m telling you, my eyelid looks amazing! My doctor did an amazing job of reconstructing my lower eyelid (remember, that at least 1/3 of my lower lid was removed!) I keep telling my ocuoplasty doctor that she did such an amazing job that I want her to handle all my medical care now.
Eyelashes – The one thing that I continue to deal with is eyelashes growing in wonky on my lower eyelid. Because the edges of my eyelid had to be pulled together to reconstruct my eyelid, some of my eyelashes have been growing in at an angle that pokes into my eyeball. Yes, it’s highly uncomfortable. I can ignore the discomfort until about 2 p.m. and then the cumulative discomfort makes me very cranky.
The first time the eyelashes grew in, the doctor simply plucked them out. This was surprisingly painless. I was cringing, anticipating the zing that I feel when I pluck my eyebrows, but there was no pain at all. Really. As I understand it, this works for some people and is all they need to get rid of the wonky eyelashes. Apparently, I have stubborn eyelashes. They continued to grow in. The next step was eyelash ablation by electrolysis. The electrolysis did not hurt at all, but that’s because I had the same local anesthesia that I had for the biopsy. The numbing shot is the worst part, by far. Apparently, I have really stubborn eyelashes because I’ve had this electrolysis process three times. But having eyelashes constantly poking in my eye is not an option, so I’ll go back as many times as necessary.
If you are facing basal cell carcinoma on the lower eyelid surgery and recovery, know that you will make it through. I’m being honest with you, it is difficult psychologically. It’s tough because it is your eye! But the pain level is not high. The only pain I had in the entire process is the pain from the local anesthesia injection. There was discomfort and soreness, but very little sharp, piercing pain. And the happy ending is that my eye looks 99% perfect and I no longer have basal cell carcinoma on my lower eyelid. Read more about another blogger’s experience with basal cell carcinoma on the eyelid.
I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.
Wow, I’m sorry you had to go through all of that! Just reading it, made my eyes hurt! I can’t believe how brave you were and how you were able to look at all of this in a positive way. I don’t think I would be so brave.
Thank you, Brenda. It was really tough at the time, but I truly didn’t have a choice. The only way out was to go through it. I just hope this helps other folks facing the procedure.
Thanks for your blog. I hope all has continued “benign.”
I’m using an experienced Mohs doc and his accompanying plastic surgeon, both done on the same day.
The only problem is after the mid-March biospy was done and labeled “malignant” on the basal cell, lower eye lid, I must wait until sometime, hopefully, in August for the surgery.
Your step-by-step calmed me down. I did look at some of the photos of other’s surgery and indeed now wish I had not.
Wish me luck!
Hi, Susana. Yes, I’m happy to report that it’s been 8 years and everything is going well with my eyelid. I’m glad that I was able to give you a little bit of peace about this process. I am not a medical professional, but if the medical professionals tell you it’s okay to wait until August for the surgery, it sounds reasonable. But you should always ask more questions, if you don’t feel comfortable. It’s good that you have found an experienced Mohs surgeon and a plastic surgeon that work together because they know how to best work together for the best outcome. Wishing you luck and keeping you in my prayers. Feel free to email me if you’d like to chat offline about your questions and concerns.
This must have been a super frightening time for you. I am so glad you made it through and that you are sharing your story with others. I know there are others who will want to read this.
It was scary on many levels, Cynthia. I do hope that someone else can find some comfort in knowing that my experience turned out well.
Thank you for sharing! I have surgery scheduled at the end of the month for the basal cell on my lower eyelid. I have a better idea of what to expect afterwards. Definitely going to download some audio books!
Wishing you the best, Nora. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
I have just been diagnosed with the same thing. I am terrified – I know this has been on my eyelid for appx 3 years and I am worried about the damage that has been done. I was diagnosed with dry eyes and I thought the discomfort I had was just part of the dry eyes and getting older. I too lived in Hawaii as a child. My surgery is in one month and I hope to do as well as you. Thank you for telling your story. – it has offered reassurance.
It’s been a year and a half and I still remember the terror I felt. If it had been my pinky toe, no big deal. But when it’s your EYE!!! it’s an entirely different matter. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers and don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions.
I have been told this is what I will have to have done. My surgeon wants to sew my eye shut for 4 weeks. I am just not prepared to do that. What other options do I have? I dont know she does not answer questions and I am not really happy with her bedside manner.
Olivia, 4 weeks is a long time, but it may be necessary. I’m going to email you directly.
Ty for this post. I have to have the same surgery next month and I am really nervous. I had no idea about the reconstructive part. And I have to wait an xtra day from the Mohs. Reading this post was so informative. Ty again!
Jamie, if you caught the carcinoma early enough and it’s small enough, you won’t need reconstructive surgery. If the gap left in your eyelid is small enough, the doctor will be able to “simply” close the gap. Just be sure to ask lots of questions. Your doctor may have performed many of these surgeries, but this is your first one.
Thanks for your sharing your story . I have a biopsy in a week! Roller coaster of emotions as it’s the eyelid! Reading this is encouraging, thank you
I totally understand (and still remember the roller coaster vividly), Jacqui. Feel free to email me at iorganize31 (at) gmail (dot) com if you have any questions.
Thank you for taking the time to write this informative post. I will be having MOHs surgery in a few days followed by reconstructive surgery the following day. My eye will be stitched shut and I will have skin grafts. I appreciate knowing more of what to expect and some of your tips for aftercare.
I’m glad that the information I shared has been helpful, Rebecca. Just remember that no one can tell that I lost almost a third of my lower lid now. The reconstructive surgery is miraculous. Let me know how every thing goes. You can email me at iorganize31 (at) gmail (dot) com. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
Thank you for sharing your experience! I will be having the same procedure done soon with Moh’s and also the reconstruction, on the same day.
I wanted to ask you I if you were prescribed antibiotics and, if it’s not too personal, what did you take? Antibiotics make me uneasy, but i know they are a necessity in this case. I have not taken them often in my lifetime and I was asked from a list to choose. I chose Cipro, as I understand it has been around for a while. Also, I was told I would not be able to bend over for two weeks. Was that true for you and was this difficult?
Thanks for your time and sharing!
Please forgive my lengthy note!
That’s a great question, Chris. It’s now been two years and I don’t remember taking oral antibiotics (but I may have, I just don’t remember). I did use a topical antibiotic ointment on the site. I was also told not to bend down for two weeks. That was fine. I simply bent my knees and squatted down while keeping my head up. As I understand it (and let me remind you that I am not a medical professional), you just don’t want the extra blood pressure on the site that is healing. Of everything I dealt with, the no bending down was not a big deal. If squatting down will be an issue for you, you may want to get an extension grabber tool. Feel free to email me at iorganize31 (at) gmail (dot) com.
I just had this done yesterday but was put completely under anesthesia (the part that stressed me out the most as I hate getting an IV). I have never had any health issues but am tackling this as well as an issue with my kidney/liver and possible cervical cancer and am also scheduled for a colonoscopy and endoscopy for other concerns. I’m 47 with a young child and am scared. Reading your post gave me a lot of comfort. I’m sorry anyone has to go through this. (((Hugs)))
Hugs to you, too, Debbie. I’ve had a colonoscopy and endoscopy this past year, too. While the colonoscopy is unpleasant, I’d say these are both a breeze after having your eye surgery. Take care, Debbie.
Thank You, thank you! for writing this information!! I have been combing the internet like mad for weeks. I am due to have Mohs on Tuesday, 3-27-2018 and reconstruction 3-28-2018. This will be for a basal cell, lower right eyelid, The reconstruction surgeon said most likely I will not be a candidate for just the sew together procedure.
I am so very helpful after the cancer is removed, I will be able to have just a Tenzel flap procedure, using skin from next to my eye, and/or behind my ear, arm, etc.
The surgeon feels strongly, I will need the “Hughes” flap procedure, requiring two surgerical procedures, with my eye sewn shut after the first surgery for at least 4 weeks, etc.
Of course like you and most at the mere mention, I am horrified. I have mono-vision, with the eyelid requiring surgery being my “reading” eye. So for at least a month I will not be able to read, of course drive. I also have Multiple Sclerosis, just got through with Breast Cancer reconstruction on 1-12-2018 (I am “clean”, thank goodness).
I guess it is fair to say I am a “can of worms”.
I am not concerned with a scar, or two, or five, lol. I am really just not liking the idea of the “discomfort” of the eye being sewn shut.
I am so very happy to come across your testimony, thank you!
I was hoping someone who has read your blog, or someone you have communicated with who has had this type of procedure may give me some more insights of the two-stage, one month eye sewn shut procedure.
So greatly Appreciate!!
You’ve had quite a run of it with health issues, Lily, and yet you appear to have a very balanced outlook. I really am constantly amazed at how you’d never know that I had almost a third of my eyelid removed. I was somewhat concerned that I’d scare small children, but my eye looks 99% like it did before. I will be honest that having it sewn shut for a week was a challenge, so 4 week would be very challenging. You will need to plan for accommodations and help from family and friends.I will email you directly to address the situation more personally.
This helps so much, I’m waiting for my surgery to be scheduled…. And I am so worried, but reading about your experience will help me be braver….God bless you for sharing.
I still vividly remember those emotions when I was waiting for my surgery. I’m glad this information helped. Be sure to ask as many questions as you have. Take care. I’m keeping you in my prayers.
Thank you for sharing. I recently had this procedure and my eyelid was sewn shut for a month. We thought we caught it early but you don’t know until the start the MOHS. The healing process is long and uncomfortable but I having the knowledge the doctors removed all the cancer is comforting.
Oh, wow, Steph, a month is a long time! I’m so glad that you caught it and had the cancer removed. Take care of yourself.
My husband was just diagnosed with BCC. He has to put a solution on his eye for 2 weeks then April 11 2018 he goes in for a biopsy at the eye doctors. He is doing ok so far with the idea . He had kidney cancer last year and so far he has a clean slate. My concern is he had 3 Stents put in and is on 2 blood thinners and other heart meds. So pray !
Thank you for sharing your journey
What a tough year for your family, Brenda. I know the doctors will be considering the blood thinners and heart issues in how they treat him. I will certainly be praying for your husband and your family. Let your husband know that there is great comfort in knowing that basal cell carcinoma doesn’t spread the way that kidney cancer does (my dad had kidney cancer). But the eye surgery was tough for me psychologically because it is your EYE! It’s mental more than physical in dealing with the surgery and healing. But my outcome is amazing. You would never know that I had almost a third of my eyelid removed.
I just had this surgery last week! Wish I had read it before. It is nice to see the end result.
I had to wait overnight before the reconstruction, a little more than a 1/3 was removed and i just had a Valium for the reconstruction. Try it having to blink then yikes! I did google eye lid cancer a lot. Also I did see a picture before reconstruction. Glad I did. Man they do magic! Otherwise same situation. I had never hear of it before.
Waiting overnight for the reconstructive surgery must have been tough, Stacy. And it’s interesting that they gave you a Valium for the reconstruction and knocked me entirely out. I wonder if it’s because my surgery was at a teaching hospital. hmmm. Hope everything turns out well for you. Take care.
Thank you for sharing your experience my husband is about to go through this very thing. Your article has made him more relaxed about what he is about to face as well as myself. I have written your tips down to be sure to ask his doctor they all sounded like good advice. He had what he thought was a style on his eye a year ago his Optometrist told him he thought it was just a wart not to worry but if it began to grow let him know and he would refer us to an ophthalmologist. Well it did not begin to enlarge until near the time for next eye vision check. When his optometrist checked his eyes he said have you seen an ophthalmologist yet of course he said no it just began to get larger and it was time to see you again so I thought you would look at it and let me know what I should do. His answer was I don’t refer you to this type of Dr. your primary Dr. has to refer you. Any case finally got to the right Dr. he tried to dissolve it with heat packs and antibacterial meds. for two weeks went back to him after two weeks and he told him it would be best to see an ocuoplastic surgeon to be sure it was not cancer and just a blocked oil gland so he has an appointment for April 26th with the ocuoplastic surgeon we are hoping it is not cancer of course but after your article we feel a little more at ease at what this procedure (if it has to be done) encounters and the outcome of it. Thank you so much for your article.
Wow, what a journey, Jennie! At least now you’re with the right doc, an ocuoplastic surgeon. I am hoping with you that it’s just an unusual blocked duct. If it does turn out to be basal cell, feel free to email me at susan (at) organized31 (dot) com. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. You and your husband will be in my prayers.
As a retired Reg. Nurse with over 40yrs experience ,I found your article very good. I
have also been diagnosed with a lower eyelid BCC & I am awaiting excision &
reconstruction. Thanks for your article …very helpful.!!
Thanks, Maz, for the feedback. I’ve shared these two posts with my oculoplastic surgeon and she found them insightful to learn what it’s like from “the other side.” You’ll be in my prayers and I can’t stress enough how amazing my reconstructive surgery continues to be. If you met me, you’d never know that I lost almost a third of my lower lid. (I even have a hard time believing it!)
I am undergoing this procedure next week. I appreciate reading about your experience. This is the first I am hearing about my eyelid being sewn shut. I did not realize that. I am curious about your ability to drive after this procedure. Do you remember when you were able to drive again? If you work outside of the home, do you remember when you were able to return to work?
Hi, Kate. Not everyone’s eye is sewn shut, so let’s hope you don’t require that. If the amount of lid removed is small enough, they “simply” sew the gap together. I would not have been able to drive. First off, it would be tough to drive with one eye. But more importantly, for me, every time I moved my good eye to look at something, by sewn-shut eye moved with the good one and that movement irritated my sewn-shut eye. It was most comfortable for me to sit or lay with both eyes shut as much as I could. I didn’t have to do that, but it was the least irritating/painful option. I work from home at my own business. I had thought I’d get a lot of work done, but I got nothing done. Let me stress, though, that this is just my experience, I’m not sure if it’s the same for everyone. As soon as the stitches were taken out, after one week, I could see perfectly and could have driven myself home.
I’m going to go through this soon I pray I’m as brave as you are thanks for sharing
Charlotte, ask lots of questions (that helped me process everything). I’ll keep you in my prayers. Don’t hesitate to email me directly if you have any questions or just want to chat. susan (at) organized31 (dot) com
Thanks so much for this. I am facing this type of surgery myself (following a biopsy) in the near future and I am terrified. Your post helped reassure me and let me know what to expect. You also stopped me — just in time — from Googling too much info online. TMI doesn’t help. Thanks so much again!
Cindy, please feel free to email me directly at Susan (at) Organized31 (dot) com. I’m glad to know this information helped a bit and I certainly understand the terrified part. I promise you that if you were sitting in front of me right now, you’d never be able to tell that I lost 1/3 of my lid unless you were about 6-9 inches away. I’m confident that the only people getting that close to your eye are your loved ones and medical personnel. 🙂
WHAT A WONDERFUL DESCRIPTION OF AN AWFUL OPERATION. GOING TO GET MINE IN ABOUT A WEEK . SCARY BUT THRILLED WHEN YOU TOLD OF YOUR RAPID RECOVERY…HOW COM ALL OF YOU FOLLOWERS ARE WOMEN ?
THIHEN YOU TOLD OF THE RAPID RECOVERY THANK YOU SO MUCH
Hi, Mort. I’m glad that the information helped. Don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions Susan (at) organized31 (dot) com. I am happy to say that not “all” my followers are women, although most are. 🙂 Very happy to have you join the group here!
Thanks so much. I will email you. Just got my surgery dates and am crossing my fingers. What is your email address? Maybe I will find it on your site — haven’t looked yet. Again, thank you.
WHAT A WONDERFUL DESCRIPTION OF AN AWFUL OPERATION. GOING TO GET MINE IN ABOUT A WEEK . SCARY BUT THRILLED WHEN YOU TOLD OF THE RAPID RECOVERY THANK YOU SO MUCH
Thank You So much for this…I went to my Doctor for a small pimple looking bump on my lower eyelid.I thought it might be a pimple, but she thinks it is a basal cell and I am going in a couple days for a biopsy at the dermatologist…. Scary…,thanks. 🙂
I’m glad that I was able to help give you some additional information, Paul. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions at Susan (at) organized31 (dot) com.
Very good & thorough description of the process & your tips for survival during the healing process are extra good! TY! Pat
Thank you soooooo much. My 79 year old husband is getting ready to have the same surgery and from your article they told him the same things that you were told.
Is there any way you can post pics of the sewn shut eye? That’s the part that scares me the most.
I wish you could IM me on FB.
I am glad you healed well and had your daughter to read to you. I may try the reading until my eyes start to shift around on me as they do. We do have TONS of books on CD and tape. That should help. My husband should have no problem sleeping alot… he already does that. He also has Macular degeneration. I just hope this does not make it more difficult getting around as he already tends to fall alot…
Thank you again and please post pics if you can.
Hi, Sharontinnin. I’m glad that this information is helpful. It’s things that I wished I’d known prior. So, while I don’t have a photo I want to share, I can tell you that my was closed with a small white square gauze pad (maybe 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch) in the middle of my eyelid. In the middle of the white pad was a knot of stitches tied shut. The rest of the eye looked normal with some bruising, but nothing scary. The first time or I looked at the eye, the white square was disconcerting, but by the 3rd or 4th time seeing it, it was really not a deal at all. It’s not that it was creepy looking, more that it was surprising. Thinks of a closed eye, with a small white square in the middle of the upper eyelid and then a small knot of black thread. The incision and stitches in the lower lid were not visible. The lashes from my upper lid covered it entirely (or you may have seen a little if you got really close and looked at just the right angle). If you have any more questions, feel free to email me at iorganize31 (at) gmail (dot) com.
Hi Susan, thank you for you thorough description of your eye surgery to remove cancer.
I have had a ‘stye’ looking bump on my right lower lid for about a month.
I have had 2 primary melanomas removed from my paper arm and back. All was removed, clear margins, nothing had spread. I am grateful for 3 yrs NED, thank goodness. I have also had many MOHs surgeries! Probably 6-8, on my face dating back to the mid 90’s. All Basel cell carcinoma.
I am going to set an appointment to see my dermatologist for my eye. Thank you for your account! It was so very helpful. I’m scared, it’s my eye! …..but not nearly as scared if hadn’t I read your article. Hoping for the best possible outcome.
Keep you posted.
Hope you’re healing up nicely.
Regards and hugs,
Kathy, I totally get that it’s different on your eyelid (that’s the exact wording I used with my dermatologist and plastic surgeon to make sure they understood). For me, the psychological “pain” was much tougher than the physical. I hope that knowing a bit of what to expect will help you. And know that if you met me today (and even the week after, when my stitches were removed), you’d never be able to tell that I had almost a third of my lower lid removed. It’s truly amazing! Crossing my fingers that the bump is just a stye! Feel free to email me if you have any more questions. iorganize31 (at) gmail (dot) com
Susan, thank you so much for this post! As others have said, your experience has eased my fears greatly. I have surgery the end of September. After my biopsy results, I spent a week in deep depression. I’ve since come to grips with it and don’t think about it 24/7. I had no idea that BCC of the lower eyelid was so common. The other scary thing is to put your EYE in the hands of doctors you are unfamiliar with. You’ve made the thought of getting my eyelids sewn together not totally shocking. One question for you or your readers. I am two weeks post biopsy (lower eyelid) and have started wearing my contacts again and I’m experiencing a feeling of irritation in that eye. Have you or others experienced dry eye or irritation after your biopsy? Again, THANK YOU for sharing your experience!!!
I entirely understand that because it involves your eye, it’s much scarier than if it was your pinky toe. I have had some dry eye issues after my Mohs and reconstructive surgery. Be sure to ask your ophthalmologist. Mine recommended over-the-counter eye drops that have really helped. I do not wear contacts, so I’m not sure about that additional factor. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.
I was having a problem of two eye lashes growing inward and having to go to eye doctor and he would pluck them out. After the second time ( had to go back every two
months) I asked if something could be done to remove them permanently. He then sent me to a Oculofacial Surgeon. I just had my appointment Tuesday and was told that the lashes were growing from an indentation of my lower eyelid. I have had that indentation for a while and did not think anything about and never had any issues so it must have
changed in order to change the way the lashes were going. He said since it was abnormal it could be cancer and he would need to do a wedge biopsy to remove it to make sure and that I may have a vertical scar and also I would have stitch strings hanging down for a couple of weeks. Like you said. It is a double whammy- since it is your eye and also the “C” word. He did not say anything about the Mohs surgery which I have been reading is the best to save the most tissue. I was so upset I really didn’t think of the questions to ask. I have made and appointment with a dermatologist to get another opinion on what should be done. Your article was very helpful in some questions I will be asking.
So the good news is that the sooner you remove the cancer, the better and the lesser the impact. Be sure to ask lots of questions. I was a patient advocate in the past. The doctors may have performed this procedure hundreds of times, but you only have two eyes! and they’re your eyes. Make them slow down until you feel comfortable.
Thank you for this story of your experience. My friend was just last week diagnosed with the same thing. Hopefully this will help me help her by understanding. Than you again.
Feel free to share my email address with your friend, Diana. I’m happy to answer any questions that I can. Your friend is fortunate to have you on her/his side.
Thank you for this story of your experience. My friend was just last week diagnosed with the same thing. Hopefully this will help me help her by understanding. Than you again.
Susan, I was so impressed with your story. My eye doctor believes that i have cancer on my lower lid near the tear duct. I live in Woodlands, Texas near Houston and I don’t even know how to begin to find which doctor to go to first. She referred me to eye plastic surgeons but I don’t think that is what I need. I believe a Mohs specialist might be the way to go but I’m not sure. Can you give me any guidance? I live by myself and I worry about transportation, etc. Any help or advice from you would be greatly appreciated.
Brenda, I’ll contact you via email.
I was so glad to read your story. I just had 2/3 of my lower eyelid removed. I had enough loose wrinkly skin that they did not need to do a skin graft. 🙂 I’m 51. My eye is sewn shut but differently than yours was. I was originally told that it may have to be shut for up to a month. My first follow-up visit will be 12 days after my surgery. I’ll find out then what the plan is and like you, am not looking forward to any more numbing shots! Your description of no pain but discomfort is accurate and was mentally very helpful for me beforehand. The oxycodone they gave me was worthless. Extra Strength Tylenol was the best. Thank you for sharing your story as it prepared me far more than the doctors did.
I’m glad that this information helped, Sue. I shared the things that I wished I’d known. At one point in my multi-month process (including follow-up appointments), I asked the doctor and resident if they’d ever had the numbing shot in their eyelid so they knew how it felt (yes, I can be a bit sassy). They both looked surprised, then contemplative, and then answered that they had not. I do think that should be a requirement for the doctors. Obviously, they can’t have the entire surgery, but they could at least understand how a portion of it feels. The good news is that the second they opened my eye I could see fine and everything worked like it should. I know I worried about that. Take care.
Hello Susan, thank goodness I found your story. I will be facing a procedure shortly. I have already had one slice and the results showed I need another and then probably the removal and reconstructive surgery based on this 2nd look.
Knowing what you are facing is so very helpful and most doctors don’t really fill in the gaps, (hey there’s a pun).
But as well as putting on my big girl panties to deal with what’s coming I have such anger for my doctor. For 2 years I have been “monitored” and the visible bump on my eye has never been addressed. He did two very small slices on spots I didn’t even know were there and then I would have an appointment every 4 months to check on things. I also have a condition called blepharitis which causes itchy flaking skin and this one spot kept getting worse. I pointed it out again to the doctor with no comment from him so when I asked the resident about it, he said you have blepharitis. End of story? A year later I made an appointment at the Galen eye centre for a new blepharitis procedure which I thought would be helpful and the woman who worked on my eyelid said what is this? I said I was told it was part of the blepharitis package, she looked at me and clearly stated, “that is not blepharitis, you need to have that checked out”. WTF, so of course through these 2 years of wasted appointments and negligence in my opinion I now have a more invasive surgery than if it had been dealt with early. Sorry for the rant, I know it’s not the doctor’s fault that I have precancerous cells on my lower eyelid but it does mean I have anger issues with the man who is helping me. Thanks for listening and giving advice (yep, not looking at any pictures) to everyone who has to go through this.
No need to apologize, Heather, I had a similar experience. My Primary Care doctor thought my cancer bump was a stye. We lost about a month and a half and I was frustrated over that, so you definitely have the right to be extremely frustrated over 2 years of lost time. Please let me know how your surgery goes and don’t hesitate to reach out if you just want to chat – iorganize31(at)gmail(dot)com
I also had mohs and reconstruction on my lower eyelid just two days ago. My eye isn’t seen shut but still is patched in a compression bandage. I take it off tomorrow and you are right about the psychological being the problem! I’m afraid to look but your story has helped! Thanks. I can only hope my outcome is as good as yours.
Hi, KP. I’ll be thinking about you tomorrow. Be prepared for some bruising, I know I had some. I looked a bit like Alice Cooper (which tickled my goofy sense of humor). The best part is that I was able to see clearly immediately and my eye worked “normally” right away. I’m glad that you found some comfort in reading about my experience. I know I wished I’d been better prepared on what expect. Wishing you all the best!
Thank you for your honest comments concerning lower eyelid carcinoma and surgery. I have looked at the videos online and know that what’s ahead will not be easy. I’m grateful to you for letting me know what to expect after surgery and to know that all of the discomfort will finally pass. The hardest part for me has been the wait. Since I have two doctors that needed to schedule surgeries for me a day apart, I’ve had to wait two months and I still have three weeks to go. Thank you again for some Great tips and I’m happy to hear that your experience turned out so well. I am hoping and expecting mine to go well also. Many Thanks!
I agree, Glenn, the waiting is really difficult (I still remember that vividly). Here’s to wishing you the best. And please let me know how it turns out for you.
I had the same 2 surgeries on my lower eyelid 15 days ago. They took 40% of the eyelid and removed the cancer after 3 stages of Mohs. The next day the oculoplastic surgeon did the reconstruction surgery using a Tenzel flap procedure (consider it middle level complexity). I am very impressed at how well things are progressing during my recovery. Good luck to all going through it!
Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Steve. I’m glad to hear that your recovery is going well. Take care of yourself.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your experience. It appears I have BCC on my lower right eyelid, and this is the best information that I’ve been able to find anywhere about what to expect. About a year ago, I developed what I thought was going to be a stye on my lower right eyelid, but I’ve had styes before, and this never got red, never got sore, and never came to a head. When I went to the dermatologist for my annual skin check last December, the PA (who is wonderful, and whom I’ve been seeing for years) didn’t even notice it, and thinking it was probably just a blocked meibomian gland, I didn’t mention it. I have glaucoma in both eyes, so I see my ophthalmologist every six months, and he didn’t notice it. It didn’t hurt, but it was not resolving, so in February, after reading on the internet about eyelid growths, I went back to the dermatologist’s PA and asked her to look at it. She believed it was a milia cyst, so she scraped it, but there was no tissue to biopsy and she sent me home with instructions to use warm compresses, assuring me it would resolve. I followed her instructions but it didn’t go away, and in fact, began to grow slightly larger, so 5 months later I called for another appointment. The earliest available was a month out, but I took that. I’ve had absolutely no pain and no discharge. My only symptoms were that my eyelashes stopped growing in that spot, which was very obvious if I applied mascara, and in a 10x magnifying mirror, you can see a tiny, bright red blood vessel going to the center of the bump, which is now 3mm in diameter and almost certainly BCC, according to the PA. I was referred to an aesthetic oculoplastic surgeon, with instructions to contact the dermatologist’s office if the surgeon is unable to schedule me quickly. I wish this had been caught earlier, but I don’t fault the PA for missing it, especially since my regular ophthalmologist didn’t notice it on 3 separate visits. The BCC is on my lower right eyelid. I’ve had a couple of surgeries on my left eye, so I’m not frightened by the thought of the surgery itself, but I am annoyed at the possibility that my right eye (with which I read and watch TV) may have to be out of commission for even a few days. Fingers crossed that it will be a quick, easy repair. Thank you again for providing all of this information. I live alone, so I’ll stock up on audiobooks ahead of time. I would never have thought to do that without reading what you posted. Thank you.
Judi, I’m sorry that you need this information, but I’m glad that you found it helpful. I’ve gathered, through my experience and talking to other people who had basal cell on their eyelid, that many doctors aren’t familiar with it. I am hoping that you have the easiest of reconstructive surgeries. Take care and please let me know how everything turns out.
I am so relieved to read this testimony. I had Mohs last week directly beneath my eye. My eyelid has been affected by the surgery and is seriously droopy. I sadly wasn’t told of this possibility and when the dr suggested sewing my eye shut, I was horrified. What kind if quack was I seeing? Ummm. No! And not seeing for four weeks feels like a lifetime. I’m a writer and teach online classes wondering how this might be affected. I will get through this by God’s Grace and help. I appreciate you telling your story. I read the other comments and believe your story is helping prepare many. Blessings to all.
Kim, I know how scary it was to me. Be sure to ask lots of questions, but from my experience and my understanding, it won’t impact your eyesight. The one thing that you may have to deal with is dry eyes from a little bit of drooping. My doctor recommended eye drops and I just have to be diligent about using them.
Susan, thanks so much for sharing all of this information. I’m preparing for my own Mohs procedure next month. Hearing about your experience was a big comfort – and I picked up a lot of helpful tips! Thank you!
Maryanne, I’m glad you found this helpful. I still remember my concern and questions before the surgery. Feel free to email me if you have any additional questions.
I was just told that my stye was probably carcinoma and am being sent to a specialist. Thank you so much for your posting of your experience! It is a bit scary but as you said, there is no choice. The sharing of your experience in layman terns has helped to lessen those fears. Thank you so much!
Sandy, I’m glad that you’ve found this helpful. I vividly remember my concerns and fears. Please let me know how it goes for you and don’t hesitate to email me if you’d like to chat with someone who understands.
Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is heartening for me to read about your experiences. I’ve had a bump on my lower eyelid for several years. Warm compresses, antibacterial ointments never helped. When I noticed lashes missing and a strange notch appear, I knew in my gut something was up – and when I looked online (yikes! but I wanted to prepare myself) my suspicions were further confirmed. I got a referral to an oculoplastic surgeon last week. The only question that I could think to ask after the diagnosis was “How soon can I have the basal cell carinoma removed?” I go for surgery in a couple of days. I’m kinda scared about what they might find, but am so relieved to be on a course of action. Onward!
I’ll be thinking about you, Linda. Please feel free to email me if you’d like to chat. It’s such a good decision to take care of it as soon as possible. Take care!
i have just gone through this and my eye is currently sewn shut from about the middle to the outer corner. It is to stay this way for another tree weeks! My concern is that the part not sewn together is really very blurred and I am worried that my sight may be affected. like you I have had a lot of discomfort but nothing I can’t handle. Just scared I won’t be able to see properly!
Margaret, I understand so deeply the fears. My experience was different because I could not see at all out of the eye. But within 2 seconds of being able to open it (and blink a couple of times), I could see perfectly. Three weeks is a long time to worry, I’d call the doctor’s office and ask to speak to a nurse or doctor about your concerns. Your peace of mind is an important part of any medical procedure. Take care and let me know how it goes.
I’m so sorry, my daughter just had to go through this and they had to remove 80% of her lower lid and go under her other left upper lid to remove cartilage to repair It with. It was a nightmare. Her right eye was stitched shut for 5 weeks. Her doctor had to even reroute blood vessels to the new tissue for healing. Now she’s dealing with injections for healing the scar tissue which is horrendous. She said it felt like a hot pitchfork in her eye. It breaks my heart to see her have so much pain in her eye. Our kids are always our babies no matter how old they are (she’s 43).
Oh, Donna, I’m so sorry for you both! Five weeks?! That’s a very long time. My doctor kept telling me that the tissue around the eye does an exceptional job of healing, so I’m hopeful for your daughter’s healing.
Thank you so much for your response. I’m pretty surprised at how many people have contacted you who’ve had similar experiences. Praying for continued healing for you as well as the others responding.
I had lower eyelid surgery for basal cell with a skin graft from my neck and then a followup surgery to remove the flap and repair the upper eyelid. It’s been four weeks after the second surgery and I have had one steroid injection. I will need at least one more. It is slowly healing and I have been using ointment twice a day which blurs the vision. I also was complaining of a stye situation on that lid for 8 months and two doctors told me it was a stye. Including my primary doctor and my cataract surgeon, Finally I went to another eye doctor who diagnosed my situation correctly after a biopsy. I wish I had been able to treat it earlier. I have been told these cancers grow slowly. We must be our own advocates. I have mono vision and the weeks I had the flap on the close vision eye were very frustrating. I used readers, but it was challenging. I had one third of the eyelid removed so I am trying to be patient as I understand complete healing takes months. My doctor has an excellent reputation, so I am encouraged. The worst is over he says, My ongoing concern is that one eye seems wider than the other due to the lid that was repaired after the flap removal. I hope that continues to improve. Maybe the good eyelid will have to be adjusted. Anyone had this problem? I am happy all the cancer was removed finally.
Lee, you have quite the go of it! I’m glad to hear that you found the correct doctor to diagnose the “stye” and treat it. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your concerns. I have gone back many times for checks and assistance (I had eyelashes growing back scratching my eye for months). Take care of yourself.
I am so glad I found your post. I have basal cell on lower left eyelid. Have had it several years, and was told it was was nothing to worry about. In January, I went to the dr for severe dry eye and was referred to an oculoplastic specialist. Biopsy confirmed Basal cell. I’m scheduled for MOHS and reconstruction on May 20th. I’m a bit anxious as I have no idea what to expect. Hoping I don’t have to have my eyelid sewn shut. That freaks me out a bit just thinking about it.
I understand exactly what you’re feeling, Barb. An oculoplastic specialist is exactly who you want handling the procedure. It’s possible that you won’t need your eye shut for healing, but if you do, it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable, but bearable. Just plan ahead as much as you can in case it is required. Feel free to email me if you’d like to chat more.
Hi Susan, I just had a stage 3 tarsal flap. I’m going today for my patch removal a week later. I could have my eye shut for up to two months per my surgeon. I tried to find your email but couldn’t. Im a journalist and I plan to continue learning about the cause of basal eyelid cancers like yours’ and mine.