For many people, eye bags are a constant struggle. Every morning when you wake up, they’re still there, regardless of whether you just got the best sleep of your life. Eye bags make you look exhausted, and they also add years to your age. Too often, we hear, “Just go to bed earlier and eat healthier foods!” But these lifestyle changes often aren’t enough to eliminate or even reduce eye bags.
The good news is that you’re far from the only one. Because eye bag problems are so common, there are multiple ways to treat them. Some of the procedures are surgical while others are non-surgical. In this post, we’ll be exploring the causes of eye bags, available non-surgical treatments, and the fillers that are used in non-surgical treatment. We’ll also discuss surgical treatment in the form of a lower blepharoplasty. This information can help you make a more informed decision about any steps you’d like to take to treat your eye bags.
Causes of Eye Bags
Before you can understand the efficacy of bag treatments, you need to know what causes under-eye bags to form, to begin with. Several factors are involved in the prevalence of eye bags. Oftentimes, multiple factors are present at one time. This can make it frustrating and difficult to seek treatment, as well-meaning solutions like “drink more water” and “sleep more” don’t actually treat the underlying problem.
Most commonly, eye bags are caused by the loss of fatty tissue. This type of tissue loss occurs in the upper cheeks, just below the bags. The tissue is present in varying areas throughout the person’s face. When a person ages, that tissue begins to break down over time. The “deflation” process happens much more quickly in the cheeks than beneath your eyes. Because the deflation process is uneven, your eyes have a protruding fat bulge underneath them, otherwise known as eye bags.
The next most common cause is the orbital septum growing weaker. Your orbital septum is a membrane which is responsible for holding fat in place underneath the eye. This fat is held away from the surface of the skin by the membrane. But when the orbital septum weakens — usually another result of aging — the previously held-back fat will bulge forward and press against the skin. This causes eye bags.
Some people also have a genetic predisposition to extra levels of fat underneath the eyes. Genetics is the third most common cause of eye bags.
Any of these causes can occur together, the different factors combining to add to the appearance and darkness of eye bags. You’ll also notice that exhaustion and diet have absolutely nothing to do with the causes of eye bags. Because eye bags are caused by a physical positioning of fat under the eyes, they won’t disappear even if you get a few more hours sleep and drink more water.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Eye Bags
There are surgical options for particularly stubborn or severe eye bags, but many dermatologists and plastic surgeons will recommend a non-surgical course of treatment first.
The most common non-surgical option is a dermal filler. Dermal fillers are specially formulated gels comprised of hyaluronic acid, which is a substance which naturally occurs in the body. This substance has the ability to restore volume to facial tissue, or alternatively to add new volume where there previously wasn’t volume.
In the case of patients who have eye bags caused by deflating cheeks, dermal fillers are used to allow the skin to transition more smoothly from the cheeks to the under-eye. This smoothing eliminates the hollowed appearance of under-eye bags. Sometimes patients who have excess under-eye fat will find this treatment beneficial, but it depends largely on the anatomy of their face.
There are multiple types of dermal fillers, but commonly used ones in plastic surgery clinics are Voluma and Restylane.
When eye bags are treated without surgery, the majority of patients are able to return to work in the same day or on the following day. There may be redness, swelling, and slight tenderness for the first week or so following the procedure.
A lower blepharoplasty is a surgery done on the lower eyelid, typically to remove under-eye bags. Most plastic surgeons will recommend this course of action when the eye bags are caused by bulging pockets of fat underneath the skin. During this procedure, the doctors will remove or adjust the fat underneath the eyes to eliminate under-eye bags.
After the surgery is complete, most patients are able to resume most of their day-to-day activities after one week. Full recovery from the procedure generally takes anywhere from four to six weeks, with bodies typically healing faster when you stick religiously to your doctor’s post-surgical instructions.
In most cases, your surgeon will recommend whether you’re a better candidate for dermal fillers or for a lower blepharoplasty. As previously mentioned, “deflating” patients tend to have best results with dermal fillers, while patients with fat bulges tend to have a better result with blepharoplasty.
In some rare cases, your plastic surgeon might recommend doing both a lower blepharoplasty surgery and have dermal fillers injected. Generally, this occurs when your eye bags are caused by a combination of fat bulging and deflating. If the surgeon treats only one cause of the under-eye bags, the appearance of the bags might be reduced, but it probably won’t be eliminated.
When this is the case, your surgeon will complete the blepharoplasty first. They may have you recover from the surgery before they use dermal fillers, as this allows them to get a better sense of what treatment you still require post-healing. It’s also possible, however, that they might do both procedures at once to minimize your potential downtime and have you looking your best as soon as possible.
You can schedule a consultation with Dr. Frankel or one of his associates to discuss the cause or causes of your under-eye bags. Dr. Frankel is one of the most highly qualified plastic surgeons in the country, specializing in both surgical and non-surgical facial rejuvenation techniques including eyelid surgery in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. He will be able to recommend the best course of action for you.