How Soon After SMILE Can I Swim?

man swimming

Every day, men and women with vision impairments choose SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction) to correct nearsightedness and astigmatism. People with many different needs and backgrounds can benefit from this laser vision procedure at Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center, including swimmers who feel bogged down by glasses and contacts.

While it may take a few weeks before you can return to the pool, SMILE eye surgery is a quick and virtually pain-free way to achieve clear vision in Birmingham, AL.

Are you concerned about SMILE recovery or when you can start showering, swimming, or using the hot tub? Read below to learn about SMILE surgery side effects or meet with board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Young H. Choi for an assessment.

What happens during SMILE?

Like LASIK, SMILE reshapes the cornea to improve common refractive errors. However, our SMILE technique involves creating a small incision in the cornea, not a flap. SMILE is an excellent alternative to LASIK because your risk of complications, like infection, is reduced. As the only board-certified ophthalmologist to offer SMILE in Alabama, Dr. Choi is proud to use innovative Zeiss VisuMax® femtosecond laser technology to perform this treatment.

What are my water restrictions after SMILE eye surgery?

While SMILE surgery side effects are minimal, it’s important to remember that your eyes will still be sensitive for a week afterward. This is why Dr. Choi provides a detailed list of dos and don’ts to prevent complications. We can discuss the following points in depth during your initial laser vision consultation near Birmingham:

  • Showers and baths: Patients can wash with warm (not hot) water the day after their SMILE procedure. Avoid getting soap, shampoo, or other irritants in your eyes when taking a shower.

  • Pools and hot tubs: The chlorine used in pools and hot tubs is especially dangerous to your eyes after surgery. Avoid both for 1 – 2 weeks after SMILE recovery, and use goggles for up to one month if you want to open your eyes underwater.

  • Oceans and lakes: Natural bodies of water contain bacteria that may cause infection. Stay out of oceans and lakes for at least two weeks, and avoid water activities, like surfing and water skiing, for up to one month.

What should I do if water enters my eyes?

Water from your shower or bathtub shouldn’t cause too many problems unless the temperature is too hot. However, chlorinated water or bacteria from an ocean, lake, or river can make your eyes sting. If this happens, do not rub your eyes and try gently rinsing them with fresh drinking water. Then contact our office for your next steps. We may ask you to keep taking your prescription eye drops as necessary along with artificial tears until your issues subside. Continued redness, swelling, or discharge may require an immediate assessment.

Simple and easy SMILE recovery

Fewer activities are more fun than swimming in the pool or the ocean. If you are ready to enjoy clear vision and want to know more about advanced SMILE eye surgery, call Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center for a laser vision appointment. Dr. Young H. Choi and our trusted eye care team near Birmingham, AL, can review our SMILE surgery side effects and more while making sure you understand everything that’s involved. We can get you back to the water as safely and effectively as possible!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.