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Lacrimal (tear duct) Surgery

Our Services

What is Lacrimal (tear duct) Surgery?


Tearing is a common complaint of patients. The cause of tearing can be multifactorial including dry eyes stimulating reflex tearing or a lid malposition causing a poor blink. Certain staring activities such as reading, driving, watching television or using your phone can contribute to tearing as well since we tend to blink less during these activities. Tearing due to dry eyes can often be managed by your eye care provider or a dry eye specialist.

Occasionally, tearing is due to a blocked tear duct. An analogy to better understand a blocked tear duct is your kitchen sink. With a blocked tear duct, the faucet is on but the drain is clogged causing the tears to overflow. Dr. Patel can evaluate you in the office to determine if this is the cause of your tearing in which case surgery may be beneficial for you.


The most commonly performed procedure for a blocked tear duct is dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR). In this procedure, a new pathway for the tears to drain is created by connecting the tear sac to the nasal cavity. A stent is placed temporarily in the tear drain to keep the drain open and then removed easily in the office. This outpatient procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia in the operating room and takes 30 minutes – 1 hour to perform. 

The surgery can be performed either through a skin incision or endoscopically through the nose with no skin incision. Dr. Patel is capable of performing both methods and during your consultation, can further discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both techniques.


There should be minimal to no pain after the procedure. Driving may be resumed after 3-5 days. Strenuous physical activity is resumed in 10-14 days. If the procedure is performed through a skin incision (external DCR), there will be mild to moderate bruising and swelling after the procedure that typically takes approximately 2 weeks to resolve; however this timeframe does depend on the patient’s health, age, medications, adherence to postoperative instructions. If the procedure is performed through the nose (endoscopic DCR), there should be no to minimal bruising and swelling.


 If tearing is due to a blocked tear duct, insurance will cover your procedure. Dr. Patel can evaluate you in the clinic to determine if a blocked tear duct is causing your tearing.

 As with any surgery on the human body, there is a risk of scarring, bleeding, infection, and discomfort. However, risks specific to this procedure are primarily failure. Fortunately, the reported success rate in the scientific literature is over 90% for this procedure.

Most patients do not complain of pain or only notice mild discomfort the day of surgery. The next day, most patients don’t feel any pain but they may notice stuffiness of the nose since we are doing surgery inside the nose as well. You may also notice light bleeding from the nose that should be mild and stop in 24-72 hours.