How Long Does it Take to Recover from DSEK Surgery?

Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty – also known as DSEK surgery – is a groundbreaking partial-thickness corneal transplant method. The procedure is so named because it includes the “stripping,” or removal and subsequent replacement, of the endothelial cells, which line the inside of the cornea. Whereas a traditional corneal transplant (penetrating keratoplasty, or “PK”) involves replacement of the entire cornea, the DSEK technique was developed to precisely target the endothelium — the area from which many corneal diseases (e.g. Fuch’s dystrophy, keratitis) stem due to infection or harmful bacteria. 

Dr. Ksenia Stafeeva, our fellowship-trained corneal specialist, is highly proficient in the concise DSEK method, which generally produces a quicker and less involved recovery period than the traditional cornea transplant. This is largely because the incisions placed during DSEK surgery are much smaller than those included in the PK method, and the risk of tissue rejection is significantly lower. All the same, it is important to note that DSEK is still a major surgery that requires a period of recuperation. 

It is normal for patients to experience certain side effects (such as blurry vision, sensitivity, and redness) for the first few weeks, but these symptoms can typically be controlled with prescription eye drops. Ultimately, patients can expect to fully heal from DSEK surgery in approximately 6-12 weeks, though the length of recovery will depend on the specifics of each procedure. If you are preparing for DSEK surgery, rest assured that Dr. Stafeeva will provide personalized recovery instructions for you to follow as you heal. She will also meet with you for follow-up visits to monitor your progress. Meanwhile, feel free to contact New Eyes with any questions about DSEK surgery or our other corneal transplant options.