How to Wash Face After Lasik

How to Wash Face After Lasik

After lasik, it's important to avoid getting water in the eyes. But this is much easier said than done. Yes, it won't be too difficult to go jump in the ocean, but how do you do simple things such as washing your face?

First, why is this even a question?

Lasik has a quick recovery time. But unfortunately this recovery time isn't instantaneous. During lasik, a flap in created just below the surface of the cornea. The creation of a lasik flap causes a thin scratch or break in the layer on the surface of the cornea: called the epithelium. During the first few hours after lasik this break heals over. Scratches in the epithelium heal very quickly.

But until that scratch heals over, there is a small risk of infection. Normally, the epithelium serves as a barrier to prevent bacteria from entering the cornea. This break in the epithelium provides a weak spot for bacteria to bypass the epithelium and travel underneath the lasik flap. Once this break heals over, this risk dramatically drops.

But despite the lower risk, during the first few weeks out after lasik, the epithelium isn't quite as strong as normal. The risk of an infection is extremely low, but we want to prevent it even further. This is the basis for restrictions after lasik. The main restriction is to keep water from getting in the eyes.

Washing the face and eyes comes with an increased risk of getting water in the eyes.

But infection isn't the only thing of concern in the first few weeks after lasik. We also want to make sure that the lasik flap stays right where it's supposed to be. Again, the greatest risk of this happening is in the first day after lasik. After the epithelium heals up, it helps to secure the lasik flap in place and prevent dislocation of the flap. And gradually over time the lasik flap becomes even stronger. But early on, rubbing the eyes can cause the lasik flap to dislocate out of position. And so in the first few weeks after lasik, we want to avoid activities which carry a risk of rubbing the eyes.

When you wash your face and eyes, their is an increased risk you can rub your eyes and dislocate the lasik flap.

The best way to wash the face

After lasik, the goal isn't to have a dirty face for weeks. Lasik surgeons still want you to practice good hygiene. We just want you to avoid splashing extra water in the eyes and rubbing. With the right technique, this can be accomplished quite easily.

When washing your face, start out by scrubbing your soap on your face almost as normal. You want to avoid the area nearby your eyes. Right around your eyes is a circular solid bone called the orbit. This serves as a good landmark to make sure you aren't getting too close to the eyes. Scrub the areas outside of this orbit landmark.

When you wash off the soap, you don't want to splash water directly into the face. If you keep your eyes closed, splashing probably won't do much; however, there is a better way. Take a wet washcloth and use it to dab and rinse the soap off of your face. This technique is much more controlled and prevents excess splashing.

Now that your face is clean, you can now focus more attention around the eyes and eyelids. The best way to clean around the eyes (within the boundaries of the orbit bone) is to add soap to the washcloth and lightly dab the skin around the eyes. Light dabbing is best, not rubbing. You will also want to make sure you aren't using too much soap. If any excess soap seeps underneath the eyelids and onto the cornea, it will be very irritable! Repeat this technique with a damp washcloth to rinse the soap off from around your eyes.

Cleaning the eyelashes

Sometimes, you can get a little bit of extra crustiness on the eyelids from all the eyedrops used during lasik. To clean the eyelashes, once again just take a clean wet washcloth (without soap) and simply lightly dab your eyelashes. Make sure NOT to rub your eye in this process. Don't be aggressive. It make take some time for the crustiness to be removed without rubbing but patience is the key. Following the light dabbing, you can take a dry washcloth and repeat to make everything dry.

Removing Eye Makeup

Ever wonder why you can't wear eye makeup shortly after lasik? Part of it is due to a potential for irritation or contamination from the makeup, but the bigger part is that removing eye makeup can require extra rubbing of the eye. Best way to remove makeup? Avoid it within the first week! If you are bad at following directions though, removing eye makeup MUST be a very gentle process. It will be difficult but again you will want to dab and not rub your eye.

Washing your face in the shower

There is one big difference between washing your face at the sink vs in the shower: you can control the process a little bit more at the sink. The shower will have a much larger volume of water being dumped on you. It's not impossible, however, to wash your face safely in the shower. The best method still is using wet washcloths. You will just want to avoid the urge to rinse off your face by staring at the shower faucet. While the eyelids to protect the eye from splashing avoiding any unnecessary splashing is a good plan.


Washing your face after lasik doesn't have to be stressful. But we want to do it in the best possible way. By following the techniques above, you can safely wash your face while you are healing up from lasik. Keeping your face clean, your eyes healthy and your vision clear.

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