Bags Under Eyes

1 What are Bags Under Eyes?

Bags under eyes is a common cosmetic problem that appears as one grows older.

It refers to the mild swelling or puffiness just below the eyes. With the normal aging process, the tissues surrounding the eyes and the muscles that support the eyelids tend to become weak.

The fatty tissues that help support the eyes gradually move down into the lower eyelids leading to puffiness under the eyes.

Eventually, fluid gets accumulated in the area below the eyes, further increasing the swelling.

Bags under the eyes are seldom a sign of a serious underlying medical problem.

Self-care at home such as the application of cool compresses may help improve your appearance.

Cosmetic treatments are available to get rid of persistent puffiness under the eyes.

2 Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of bags under eyes may include:

  • Mild swelling under the eyes
  • Loose or sagging skin
  • Dark circles

Though the appearance of bags under the eyes is unacceptable to many people, they are usually harmless and do not need medical care.

The puffiness may reduce on its own with some home-care remedies.

However, you may consult your doctor if the swelling does not go away or:

  • Is persistent for several days and severe
  • Is associated with pain, redness, and itching
  • Occurs on other parts of your body such as your legs

Your doctor may preclude other possible causes that can lead to the swelling, such as thyroid disease, an infection or an allergy.

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3 Causes

There are several causes of bags under eyes.

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As a part of the natural aging process, the tissues and muscles supporting your eyelids become weak.

The skin sags and the fat that remains in the area surrounding the eye (orbit) may move down to the area under your eyes.

In addition, fluid accumulation below your eyes makes the area appear swollen and puffy.

Several causative factors have been identified, which include:

  • Changes in weather conditions (hot/humid days) leading to fluid retention
  • Consumption of excessive salt in the diet
  • Alteration in hormone levels
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Allergic conditions or dermatitis, particularly if the puffiness is associated with redness and itching
  • Genetics and heredity — Bags under the eyes can run in families

4 Making a Diagnosis

To make a diagnosis of bags under your eyes, your doctor will likely ask you questions about your medical history and lifestyle.

For bags under the eyes, some basic questions you can ask your doctor include:

  • What is the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Is my condition a temporary or chronic problem?
  • What treatment approach will you recommend?
  • What will be the cost of the treatments?
  • Does medical insurance cover these costs?
  • What results can I expect?
  • Can I do anything at home to improve my symptoms?
  • What kind of follow-up care can I expect?

Your doctor may ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did you first notice the puffiness under your eyes?
  • Are your symptoms continuous or occasional?
  • What seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What can worsen your symptoms?

5 Treatment

Bags under the eyes usually do not require any specific treatment as they are considered a cosmetic concern.

Self-care at home and lifestyle treatments can help decrease or eliminate the puffiness under your eyes.

There are several medical and surgical treatments available if you are concerned with the persisting appearance of bags under your eyes.

Treatment cost may not be covered under medical insurance if it is done for a cosmetic reason.

Options

  • Medications: If the swelling under your eyes is due to an allergy, your doctor will prescribe anti-allergy medications.
  • Therapies: Various wrinkle treatments can be used to improve the under-eye puffiness. These include laser resurfacing, chemical peels and fillers, which may improve skin tone, tighten the skin and rejuvenate your appearance.
  • Eyelid surgery: Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) is an invasive option to get rid of bags under your eyes. During blepharoplasty, the surgeon makes an incision just below the eyelashes along the natural crease or inside the lower lid. Then, the surgeon removes or performs redistribution of the excess fat, muscle and sagging skin. After this, the skin is sutured using tiny dissolvable stitches along the eyelid's natural crease or inside the lower eyelid. The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis.

In addition to resolving  bags under eyes, blepharoplasty can also repair:

  • Baggy or puffy upper eyelids
  • Excess skin of the upper eyelid that causes interference in your vision
  • Drooping lower eyelids
  • Excess skin on the lower eyelids

Consult with your doctor regarding the risks and complications involved in eyelid surgery, which include infection, dryness in the eyes, and problems with vision, tear ducts and eyelid positioning.

6 Lifestyle and Coping

There are different ways to adapt your lifestyle in coping with the bags under eyes.

The following suggestions help you reduce or eliminate the bags under your eyes:

  • Use a cool compress: Wet a clean washcloth with cool water. While sitting upright, apply this damp washcloth over the skin under and around your eyes for a few minutes with gentle pressure. Alternatively you can use slices of cucumber or wrap a bag of frozen peas or carrots in a cloth and place it on your eyes for about 10 -15 minutes.
  • Get adequate sleep at night: For most adults, at least seven to eight hours of sleep is recommended every night. When you sleep, keep your head slightly raised. To do this, you can add an extra pillow or elevate the head portion of your mattress or the entire head of your bed for a few inches. This helps to avoid fluid accumulation around your eyes.
  • Reduce allergy symptoms:  Try to avoid exposure to known allergens when possible. You can take over-the-counter allergy medications.
  • Drink plenty of water: Stay well-hydrated to prevent puffy eyes. Drinking lots of healthy fluids, especially water, helps to maintain an overall firm skin tone.
  • Reduce salt intake: Retention of body fluids can lead to puffy, doughy looking skin. Therefore, decrease your salt intake to reduce the tendency of retaining excess water. Reducing the use of processed foods in your diet is an easy method to cut back on salt.

Consult with your doctor about prevention strategies if you think that you can develop under-eye reactions because of hair dyes, soaps, cosmetics or other allergens.

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