If you are considering cosmetic surgery on your upper eyelids, you will find my experience here

I had been suffering from drooping eyelids for years. It even got so bad that my eyelashes were pressed down. You can see it clearly in this photo:

Esther before eye lift

Yet I had never thought about an eye lift, even though many friends (both male and female) told me that they had done so and that it was a ‘piece of cake’.

However, when I lost a bit of vision in one eye due to a split retina a year ago, I became extra aware of the overhanging eyelids. Maybe an eye lift would give me some more space to see? It was worth trying. But I thought it was super scary.

Cutting a healthy body is not ‘my thing’. Once again friends assured me that it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Where do you get your eyes lifted?

I went for Ooglift.nl in Maarssen, The Netherlands. The two doctors in this clinic do nothing but eye lifts and are therefore real specialists. They use a special technique that prevent bruising. Intake is via a self-submitted photo via email. First I was rejected because I said I live abroad. They don’t like the hassle of international  customers. When I explained that I travel a lot, but that I can just be in the Netherlands when necessary, I was fortunately ‘admitted’.

How much does an eye lift cost?

The total cost for the procedure is €875. This is not reimbursed by health insurance or health insurance.

Preparation for the procedure

On the day itself, it is recommended that you bring someone with you, because you are not allowed to drive yourself. I ordered an Uber but realized just in time that I probably wouldn’t be able to look at my phone to coordinate with the driver. Fortunately, my friend Kristel, who lives nearby, came to Ooglift to support me emotionally and to coordinate the taxi for me. I had prepared food for a few days in my apartment and had even made a pan of vegetable soup for the vitamins. Because you really need to sit still on a chair for the first two days to promote healing and minimize swelling. So I thought I was well prepared….

The eyelift procedure

The ‘operation’ itself only takes 25 minutes, but I found it quite scary. Especially after the trouble I had already had with my eyes, I was very afraid of pressure on my eye, which could activate the retinal split again.

First, my eyelids were drawn with a marker and the procedure followed immediately.

Everyone had said that the anesthetic injections were annoying and could hurt, but I thought it wasn’t too bad. I hardly felt any pain. The anesthesia did feel like pressure on my eyes, which made me worried, but the doctor explained that the anesthesia can feel like that, but that there really was no pressure on my eye. When he started cutting it didn’t hurt, but I thought it was a very unpleasant feeling. The pulling he did felt like pushing because of the anesthesia: like pressure on my eye. The doctor kept telling me to relax and tried to make small talk to distract me.
What I also found annoying was that he had to burn away some fat from under my eyelids. According to him, that fat was the reason my eyelids were so bulging. That burning away gave flashes of light and a ‘cracking’ feeling, and caused a penetrating ‘burnt flesh’ odor, which I smelled for weeks… The pulling, which felt like pushing, on my eye felt annoying, but before I knew it one eye was already ready and stitched. I was halfway…

When both eyes were ready, I was put on a chair with a cup of tea, I think to check if there had been any bleeding. Within 3 minutes I was allowed to go to the taxi.

Immediately after the eye lift procedure

It was made very clear to me that I was not allowed to move, talk, laugh, sneeze, lift, put my head down, etc. Everything to minimize swelling. I looked like someone had just punched my eyes. My eyelids were swollen and my eyes could barely open.

My friend Kristel, who is limping slightly due to a brain haemorrhage, took me by the arm and took me to the waiting taxi. I could barely open my eyes, so we really were ‘the lame and the blind’. But I wasn’t allowed to talk and certainly not to laugh, so I let myself be led into the taxi.

Kristel put a plastic bag in my hand with a cup of yoghurt, a cup of juice and some crackers. How happy I would be with that ‘survival bag’ later that day!

Don’t move, don’t lift…

When I got home, I let the taxi driver open the heavy front door and I sat on a chair in my apartment. It was 32 degrees Celsius that week and my apartment is only 30m2, with a glass wall, so it was unbearably hot. I had the curtains closed and a fan on and decided to just give in to it.

I noticed that every movement put pressure on my eyes. Even movements you wouldn’t otherwise think about, such as moving the chair or positioning the fan. I sat down with some music on and tried to relax and let my body do the healing. It feels quite strange and miserable when your eyes are closed. It didn’t hurt (I had two paracetamol and had been taking arnica tablets for a few days, maybe that helped), but I did feel a tugging and a bit of itching.

When I wanted to eat something, I became aware that every action would put too much pressure on my eyes: getting up, opening the refrigerator, bending over, lifting out the heavy pot of soup, ladling the soup, heating it up, putting everything back and carrying the bowl of soup back to my chair. No go! Luckily I still had Kristel’s plastic bag within reach. That day I lived on juice, yogurt and crackers.

How do you sleep after an eyelift procedure?

You have to sleep on your back for 10 days after the procedure, which is annoying, because I am a side sleeper. You should also raise the head of your mattress by placing a pillow underneath it. Unfortunately, I had not prepared the latter. I thought: I’ll just do that later… But of course, I couldn’t lift a mattress and put a pillow under it: that ‘effort’ puts way too much pressure on your eyes. You don’t realize that at all in advance. Fortunately, through the app group I found someone in the building who was willing to help.

During the heat wave, with those swollen eyes, it was difficult to sleep anyway, especially on my back. I fell into a kind of jet lag, half awake, half asleep, half drowsy, listening to music and there was nothing else to do but to completely surrender to it. I was completely in zombie land for two days. The second day I felt a little better, but I still really needed to sit still. Later that day I was able to watch Netflix, which provided some distraction, but it also resulted in very dry eyes….

Are my eyes different?

Every day my eyes changed. One was more closed than the other, the shape was different, and the swellings made them look different. The stitches were also in different places, which made them look asymmetrical. I was terrified of what I would ultimately look like. There was no way back.

When I sent the doctor a photo, he said that everything looked normal and that the final results would only be visible in a few weeks or even months. And that he had never had any complaints before, so everything would really turn out fine.

Big steps in the first two weeks

After 6 days, the stickers and the stitches could be removed. That already helped enormously. And the next day you almost look ‘normal’ again. I got on a plane to Italy. After 10 days you can wear make-up again. After 2 weeks I had a gala at Nyenrode University and with make-up on, hardly anyone saw anything, as you can see in the photo.

What is difficult is that I am not allowed to go into the sun for 2 months, to allow the scars to heal properly. Difficult, in Thailand… So always wear sunglasses and use sunscreen. I also use scar cream on my eyelids. I’ve heard that it promotes healing.

The results after the eye lift

My eyes seem more open now. And I see my eyelids again for the first time, and my eyelashes! Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I have gained any more vision, perhaps even the opposite: I am now even more aware of the part of my vision that I have lost, in the upper left part of my right eye.

My look has changed and I still have to get used to it a bit. Just look at the before & after photos and decide for yourself. In the ‘before’ photo I am wearing makeup to camouflage the bulge of my eyelids. In the ‘after’ photo I only have some mascara on. This was taken 5 weeks after the procedure.


After 4 weeks I smell less and less that ‘burnt meat’ smell that has been hanging around me for weeks. Maybe the smell came from the dead cells that were being cleared and removed by my body, I don’t know, but I thought it was an annoying ‘side effect’ that you hardly hear anyone talk about.

The procedure severed the nerves in my eyelids, so part of my eyelid is insensitive. That’s very strange, but I understand that it will improve on its own. I just hope so.

I think my eyes are different than before the procedure. My look is different. Yes, it is more open, but I really see a different appearance than before. Maybe that’s because you know yourself so well. I especially hope that I don’t look like ‘someone who has done cosmetic surgery’, while in this case, that is of course actually the case… 🙂

In short: The procedure itself was not too bad, the recovery takes some time, the costs are not too bad, and the result is beautiful, but really think carefully about whether this is what you want.