Post-operative Posturing (following retinal surgery) instructions

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-949/2021
  • Departments: Ophthalmology Department
  • Last Updated: 16 September 2021


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about posturing following retinal surgery.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. However, it is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team.  If after reading this leaflet, you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to discuss them with a member of the healthcare team.

What is post-operative posturing?

Posturing is the positioning of your head and upper body required after undergoing retinal surgery.

Why do I need to posture?

Posturing is necessary to ensure that the gas or silicone oil bubble in your eye is positioned against the part of the retina that requires supporting; it is essential process which will help the retina to reattach correctly.

What should I do after my surgery?

  1. You will need to commence your posturing position as soon as possible following your operation.
  2. You will need to adjust your posture as instructed during the day; you can have a 10 minute break every hour.
  3. You need to ensure correct posturing throughout the night.
  4. Continue posturing until your next outpatient appointment, when you will be advised on how much longer to continue.
  5. You may undertake light household activities such as dusting, washing up, reading, and watching the television etc. providing you keep your head in the required position.
  6. Do not lie flat on your back until the gas has been fully absorbed: this can be up to eight weeks; this varies depending on the concentration and type of gas we have used.
  7. Do not fly in an aeroplane until the gas bubble has been fully absorbed; this can be up to 8 weeks following surgery.
  8. You should not participate in activities which take place above an altitude of over 1220 meters (4,000 feet).
  9. If you have a medical oil called ‘Silicone oil; in your eye you should avoid lying flat on your back whilst the oil remains in the eye, this is to reduce the risk of the oil seeping into the front part of the eye causing the eye pressure to become unstable.
  10. You should not go swimming for 3 months following your operation.

What are the correct types of posturing?

The following diagrams are to help you achieve the required position.

The ward nurses will advise you on which position(s) you need to use and the duration.

Face down posturing








Lying on left side with cheek to the pillow







Lying on right side with cheek to pillow

Lying with facedown but tilted to the left 45 degrees to pillow










Lying with face down but tilted to the right 45 degrees to pillow









What happens afterwards?

The oil remains in the eye for several months until the retina has healed sufficiently for it to be removed. The gas bubble is slowly absorbed by the body over a period of  up to 8 weeks

If you experience any of the following problems following your return home: you must contact us for further advice

  • Excessive pain
  • Loss of vision
  • Increasing redness of the eye
  • Discharge from the eye
Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Ophthalmology Department (01482) 816658 or (01482) 608788 (08:30am -17:00pm Monday – Friday) or Out-of-Hours (01482) 604346 (Please listen to full voice message on how to access emergency out of hours service).

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