Comparison Matrix

Flap ProceduresFlapless Procedures





Within each category, the flap and flapless procedures are very similar in terms of speed of recovery, comfort level and overall risk profile. However, the two categories differ substantially when compared to each other.

For the vast majority of patients, most surgeons would likely agree that a flapless procedure is the safest and most effective option. Indeed, the advantages of flapless surgery are numerous:

No flap complications
No concerns over trauma
Preservation of corneal thickness
Preservation of future options
Less dry eye
Slightly better visual outcomes

However, despite the aforementioned advantages, flapless procedures are considerably less popular than flap procedures. The reason lies in their disadvantages:

Greater discomfort
Prolonged recovery of vision
Repeat inconvenience on retreatment

For a typical patient, the pros and cons of flap versus flapless procedures  include:


Flap complicationsRare, but possibleNone
Postoperative discomfortMinimalMore significant
Duration of postoperative discomfortA few hours3 to 5 days
Time until vision clears1 day2 to 6 weeks
Recovery time after retreatmentsAgain quickAgain prolonged
Future eye trauma concern levelSome/mildNone
Preservation of future optionsUsually goodSometimes better
Both eyes treated at onceYesYes
Haze concernsNegligibleVaries low to high
Dry eyeSlightly MoreSlightly Less
Quality of visionExcellentA tiny bit better

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