Eye bags, puffiness, dark shadows, and circles under the eyes are common concerns among women, according to many dermatologists and plastic surgeons. Even after eight hours of good quality sleep, eye bags may make you look exhausted. Valerie Goldburt, MD, PhD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, says that such complaints are very common. “Since it makes you look older and tired, many people feel that it is a major concern for them," says Brent Moelleken, MD, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. People generally do not distinguish between the different forms like pouches, puffiness, bags, and shadows. It is just that they do not like what they see on their face.
There are a number of solutions for these problems, but the first step towards solving it is to find out the real cause for these conditions.
Some of the common causes for the accumulation of water under the eye are seasonal allergies, a cold, or sinus infections. “The skin around the eye is the thinnest in our body and hence the inflow and outflow of fluids are most obvious in this region," explains Goldburt.
Having salty foods for dinner and crying during the night may also lead to puffy eyes in the morning. This is because of osmosis, the movement of water from a region of low salt concentration to a region of high salt concentration. The principle remains the same whether salt is from tear or from foods.
Methods to remove eye bags include:
- If hay-fever is the reason for the puffiness, many over-the-counter allergy medications may be helpful in treating the condition. But discuss it with your doctor before you start treatment if you have hay fever.
- Irrigating the nasal cavity using a neti pot may be helpful in relieving the fluid build up under the eyes. This is particularly helpful if the puffiness is caused by allergies, sinus congestion or common cold.
- Sleep position may also lead to eye bag formation. Sleeping on the sides may lead to the formation of under eye bags because of gravity. Those who sleep on their sides may have a heavy bag on the side they sleep in. “So sleeping on the back and adding an extra pillow under the bed may relieve eye bags in those people who get puffiness due to the sleep position," says Goldburt. The earlier the switch in sleep position, the better because eye bags may become permanent after a few years.
- Other habits like rubbing the eyes frequently, excessive drinking and going to sleep with the makeup on also may lead to the formation of under-eye bags. Fluids may build up below the eyes by sleeping with the makeup. Dehydration caused by excessive drinking weakens the thin skin under the eyes making it look like sunken in a pouch.
Eyebags are also seen as a symptom of some medical conditions. Sudden appearance of bags, even when you don’t have any allergies, may be a symptom of underlying sinus infection or common cold. According to Craig Austin, MD, a New York dermatologist and dermatopathologist, fluid retention under the eyes may be caused by thyroid and kidney problems.
If the eye bags remain for a long time, the cause may not be anything temporary. It may be inherited like the pigmented tissues that lead to under-eye discoloration among people of Asian and African descent. Age is another cause for the formation of dark circles under the eyes. As a person ages, the delicate skin under the eyes become thin exposing the blood vessels that lies below. One can distinguish this from other causes by pulling the skin sideways. “If the dark skin looks blotchy in appearance you can be sure that it is caused by excess pigmentation in the area," says Joseph Eviatar, MD, a New York ophthalmic plastic surgeon.
In most cases, dark circles are not caused by change in the color of the skin, but by loss of volume in the area around the eye. Loss of volume exposes the orbital bone which creates a hollow that appears as a dark circle. This usually appear when an individual is between 30-years-old and 40-years-old.
One of the common methods to conceal the dark circles is the use of a concealer. “Choosing a concealer is very important for the right looks," says New York makeup artist Kimara Ahnert. She says one has to choose the concealer that goes with the skin tone. For mild discoloration, liquid formula can be used. Cream or cake concealers are ideal for shadows that are more prominent. Apply by lightly patting it from the inner corner of the eye to just past the outer corner. Treatment with lasers and intense pulse light (IPL) are other expensive options for destroying the pigment cells and smoothing the skin. Darkness can also be reduced by using skin lightening creams that contain hydroquinone or kojic acid.
But if dark circles are caused by extremely thin skin, these common methods may not be successful in treating the same. Eye creams containing caffeine is recommended for this as it helps in constricting the underlying blood vessels.
Here are a few tips to have healthy and youthful eyes:
- Avoid smoking and apply sunscreen under the eyes too. Smoking and exposure to UV rays are two factors that lead to weakening of the collagen and cause premature wrinkling and sagging.
- Apply moisturizer to the eye every night. This will provide the required hydration for the tissues.
- Use prescription retinoic acid daily to prevent wrinkles and improving the existing lines.
- Calm puffy eyes using cucumber slices, chilled tea bags or even a package of frozen peas under the eyes. The cool temperatures help to reduce the swelling.
Hollowness can be filled by injecting hyaluronic fillers, such as Juvederm or Restylane. This will help to correct the contours of the eye socket and make the eyes look more youthful. But Moelleken warns that this is a technique-dependent procedure, where the filler needs to be injected deep under the skin. Look out for a skilled, experienced board-certified dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or ophthalmic surgeon for the injections.
Eye lid surgery
Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, is now being used to prevent sagging is usually done through incisions made in the eye lid. Doctors may remove a little bit of fat, reposition the fat, or add some fat grafts to give a better look. Loose skin is tightened using lasers.