PURPOSE: To evaluate the short-term changes in ocular surface measures and tear inflammatory mediators after femtosecond lenticule extraction (FLEx) and small-incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) procedures. METHODS: Eighteen subjects (18 eyes) underwent FLEx and 23 subjects (23 eyes) underwent SMILE in this single-center and prospective study. Central corneal sensitivity, Schirmer I test (SIT), noninvasive tear breakup time (NI-TBUT), tear meniscus height, corneal fluorescein (FL) staining, and ocular surface disease index (OSDI) were assessed in all patients. Concentrations of interleukin-1α (IL-1α), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), nerve growth factor (NGF), interferon-γ (IFN-γ), transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in collected tears were measured by multiplex antibody microarray. RESULTS: Central corneal sensitivity was reduced in both groups, but the scores in the SMILE group were higher than those in the FLEx group at all time points postoperatively (P<0.01). Lower FL scores and longer NI-BUT were observed in the SMILE group 1 week after surgery (P<0.05). OSDI scores in both groups increased rapidly at 1 day and 1 week postoperatively, then returned to their preoperative levels within 1 month (P<0.05). There were no significant differences in SIT or tear meniscus height between the two groups. Lower and faster recovery of tear NGF, TGF-β1 and IL-1α concentration were found in the SMILE group compared to the FLEx group postoperatively. No significant difference was found in tear TNF-α, IFN-γ and MMP-9 for either group before or after surgery. Tear NGF, TGF-β1 and IL-1α show a correlation with ocular surface changes after FLEx or SMILE surgery. CONCLUSION: SMILE has superiority over FLEx in early ocular surface changes and NGF, TGF-β1 and IL-1α may contribute to the process of ocular surface recovery. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02540785.