LASIK Procedures and Recovery: What to Expect Before and After the Surgery

10 Aug 2023Pre- and Post-op Info

LASIK or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis is a popular refractive eye surgery that has revolutionised the vision correction landscape. Essentially, it is a way to correct most vision issues due to refraction errors by reshaping the cornea.

We’ve talked about LASIK in-depth before, what it entails, and what types of LASIK you can get. Today, however, our focus will be on the LASIK recovery period and the questions surrounding it.

These include queries such as “How long does a LASIK flap take to heal” and “What preparatory steps should you take before getting LASIK”. We’ll also cover queries about the potential side effects of the procedure and the best practices for recovery.

Understanding what to expect before and after surgeries like this can help you make the best-informed decision for your own health. Let’s begin with the preparations you need to make before getting LASIK.

What to do before LASIK

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Don’t wear your contact lenses 

This may seem odd, but you need to stop wearing your contact lenses for several weeks if you plan to get LASIK. This is because contact lenses are capable of altering the shape of your cornea due to their contact with it and they also cause dry eyes. 

Here are the time frames for how long before your LASIK assessment and before surgery that you should stop using your contact lenses:

  • Soft disposable non-toric contact lenses – Stop using them 3 days before 
  • Soft disposable toric contact lenses – Stop using them 1 week before 
  • Gas-permeable or RGP contact lenses – Stop wearing them 2 weeks before 

Toric lenses are those that correct astigmatism. 

Avoid using certain products temporarily

There are some personal care products that can be unwise to use in the days before the surgery. Examples are eye creams and lotions as well as makeup.

This is because you want as clean a surgical field as possible for the procedure. When you use products like these, however, there is always a possibility of trace amounts of them being left behind even after you have cleansed or washed your face.

This increases the risk of infection and even inflammation after LASIK.

The same goes for anything that could be volatile, e.g. perfumes and after-shaves. These can be bad for the air quality in the operating room, which should be as clear as possible for the laser to work at its best. 

Stop using eye makeup such as eyeliner, mascara for 4 days before your surgery. Do not apply any creams/lotions near your eye on the day of surgery.

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What to expect after LASIK

Recovery period

One of the most common questions we get from people is this: “How long does a LASIK flap take to heal after surgery?” The best thing about LASIK is that recovery begins very quickly: the corneal flap usually starts healing right after the surgery.

Indeed, for many, functional vision returns a mere 24 hours after the procedure. Improvements usually appear in a mere matter of days, although vision stability varies.

For instance, some people may require only a month for their improved vision to stabilise. For others, however, it may take somewhere in the range of 3 months

What to expect for potential side effects & post-operative care


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The first 24-48 hours

You may experience mild pain and general discomfort 

During the first 4 or so hours, most people report some burning sensations, heightened tear production, and increased sensitivity to light.

A good way to cope with these when you rest is to wear a clear shield over your affected eye or eyes at night. This will protect the eye and also prevent you from accidentally rubbing it (which you should avoid while the corneal flap heals).

You may also experience some eye dryness post-LASIK

In fact, this is the most commonly reported side effect of the procedure.

Fortunately, you can address this fairly easily with eye drops, which your doctor can provide for your LASIK recovery period. You can also learn more about how to deal with dry eye after LASIK in our article here.

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The first week to a month

You may have blurred or hazy vision

We mentioned vision stability earlier and how it may take anywhere from one to three months to achieve it. This means that your vision’s quality may fluctuate for a while after LASIK eye surgery.

This is because the reshaped cornea needs to stabilise before you get an idea of what your new vision will be. Continue with the use of eye drops as instructed by your eye doctor during this time. 

You should avoid strenuous activity and contact sports

You do not want to dislodge the corneal flap or damage it in any way as it heals. You can go back to jogging and gym training one week after your procedure, back to swimming 2 weeks after and back to contact sports one month after.

You should keep water away from your eyes

To be clear, you can shower. However, you should try to keep your eyes dry and certainly avoid things like soap, shampoo, or conditioner getting into them for the first week after your surgery. 

Be certain that the water you shower in is clean too. Contaminated water – which may come from anything including public pools and water parks – can increase the risk of infection for your eye.

You should avoid dirty, dusty, or overly bright environments 

Dirt and dust can get into your eye and infect it, so avoid anywhere you might pick those up. You should also wear sunglasses when outdoors.

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The first 3-6 months 

You should notice that nearly all eye and visual symptoms have begun to fade

At this point, most people have not only recovered but have also stabilised their vision. That said, some patients may require a bit longer. These are usually those whose eyes were already dry before the LASIK surgery. 

Consult eye care professionals about LASIK today 

All of this should give you an idea of what you may be in for with a LASIK procedure. That being said, it would still be best to seek advice from qualified eye care professionals on the matter, whether you are just considering LASIK or are looking for a way to ensure smooth recovery after it.

At Shinagawa Eye Centre, we can provide the guidance you need. Call us to enquire or book an appointment for a pre-LASIK assessment today!