What are Eye Bags?
Eye bags refer to dark, puffy circles under the eyes. They are also referred to as dark circles or dark shadows. Eye bags are a common cosmetic complaint, but are not usually concerning.
Some reasons why you might develop bags under your eyes include:5
- You’re exhausted. Sleep deprivation may result in red, puffy, and droopy eyes.
- You’re having an allergic reaction. Allergies can result in congestion and inflammation, which might cause puffiness under the eyes.
- You eat a high-salt diet. Consuming too much salt causes your body to retain water. This can result in swelling under the eyes.
- You have a medical condition. Some health conditions, like thyroid issues, can irritate your eyes and cause eye bags.
- You’re genetically predisposed. Some people inherit under-eye bags from family members.
- The natural aging process. As you age, your skin starts to lose its firmness. When this happens, you may notice droopy skin under your eyes.
While some cases of eye bags call for medical or surgical treatment, sometimes all you really need is more rest or an improved diet.
Eye Bag Surgery: What to Expect
Eye bag surgery may be a treatment option depending on the cause. A blepharoplasty is a lower eyelid lift. It’s a relatively quick, outpatient procedure.
During a consultation for lower eyelid surgery, you will meet with your doctor to discuss your health history. Your doctor will also evaluate your vision and eye care history. They cannot continue with the surgery if you have had corneal refractive surgery (like LASIK or PRK) in the last 6 months.9
In addition, your doctor will assess the quality of your skin, the soft tissue, and the area’s skeletal support.9
If your doctor suspects there are other ways to treat your under eye bags, they will likely recommend those first. If your under eye bags are the result of an allergic reaction, they may direct you to an allergy specialist.
Because your face, and especially your eyes, are delicate, it’s important to trust the surgeon you choose. Shop around to find a doctor who makes you feel comfortable and answers all of your questions.
This is also the time to inquire about the cost of surgery. Most insurance companies do not cover surgery costs if the surgery is based on cosmetics alone.
If your insurance does cover the surgery, make sure you find a surgeon in your network who accepts your coverage.
During lower eyelid surgery, the surgeon removes excess fat that sits under your eye. They may also tighten the muscles and skin in the area to smooth the surface.
They will do this by making a small cut below your lashes in your eye’s natural crease. In some cases, they may instead make the cut inside your lower eyelid.3
The total surgery should take about 2 hours.
After the surgery is over, you will stay at your surgeon’s office for monitoring. You will be allowed to leave later that day.
Your doctor will likely advise you to do the following:3
- Use an eye pack on your eyes for about 10 minutes every hour following surgery (over time, you should use the ice pack less)
- Clean your eyes gently with eye drops and ointments as prescribed
- Avoid straining or rubbing your eyes for a week
- Stay away from strenuous activities for a week
- Avoid smoking
- Don’t wear contacts for about 2 weeks following surgery
- Protect your eyes from the sun and wind with darkly tinted sunglasses
- Use cool compresses to reduce swelling
- Sleep with your head raised above your chest for the first few days following surgery
Your doctor may also advise you to avoid the following medications that can increase bleeding:3
- Naproxen sodium
They will likely recommend avoiding these medications for about a week after surgery. You can use acetaminophen like Tylenol for pain management instead.3
If you work, take about a week off after reconstructive surgery to allow your lower lid skin to heal.10
Side Effects and Risks of Eye Bag Surgery
Lower eyelid surgery removes excess skin, improves the appearance of fatty deposits, and lifts the lower eyelids. But there are some side effects and risks to be aware of.
Side effects of eye bag surgery include:3
- Irritated eyes
- Watery eyes
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Double vision
Risks of eye bag surgery include:3
- Injury to the eye muscles
- Dry eyes
- Difficulty closing the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Loss of eyesight (very rare)
How Much Does Eye Bag Surgery Cost?
On average, the cost of cosmetic eyelid surgery is about $4,120.11
However, the cost of eye bag surgery depends on various factors:
- Location of surgery
- Doctor of choice
- Whether or not insurance will cover the surgery
Check with your insurance provider to confirm whether or not they will cover your surgery.
Other Ways to Reduce Eye Bags
There are several other ways to reduce eye bags without surgery. Here are some at-home remedies you can try:
Get some more rest
If your eye bags are a result of sleep deprivation, make sure you are getting enough rest.1
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends that adults get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.7
Change your diet
If your sodium intake is too high, your body will retain water. This causes inflammation, including around the eyes.1, 5
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day for most adults. Ideally, you shouldn’t consume more than 1,500 milligrams per day. This is especially true if you have high blood pressure.12
Use skincare products
Sagging skin creates the appearance of eye bags. There are various over-the-counter (OTC) products you can use to rejuvenate, hydrate, and tighten the skin.
Products like creams, masks, and peels can also help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.5
Try a cold compress
Cold compresses help reduce inflammation and swelling. You can use ice packs, bags of frozen foods, refrigerated spoons, or other cold materials.5
Cosmetics like concealers and foundations can temporarily cover up the look of dark shadows.2 Make sure to wash your face at night after removing makeup. Sleeping with makeup on can harm your skin and produce adverse effects, like acne.6
Take collagen supplements
Collagen is a protein that comes in the form of powders, capsules, or liquid. It is necessary for healthy skin, hair, and nails. You can also use topical collagen treatments like a retinol cream, which promotes collagen formation.4
Take allergy medication
If you’re having an allergic reaction that’s causing your eyes to swell, you may need medication. Talk to your doctor to find the best medicine or treatment for your allergies.5
If you are not comfortable treating eye bags at home, you can consult a beautician or esthetician instead.
An esthetician can apply fillers to the under eyes or treat the skin with facials and/or peels. Many people get dermal fillers to treat tear trough deformity. Tear trough deformity affects the periorbital tissues and creates the appearance of sunken eyes.13
In the U.S., more than a million people have fillers injected every year. Hyaluronic acid fillers can last anywhere from 6 to 18 months.8
A series of laser skin treatments is another option you can explore with an esthetician. Laser removes layers of wrinkled skin under your eyes. It can also stimulate skin cell renewal for firmer skin. The results last for several years.5
While eye bags are not usually anything serious, many people choose to treat them for cosmetic reasons. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat under eye bags both at home and with the help from a doctor or skin specialist.
Surgery may not be an option or an ideal route for you. Talk to your doctor about the best treatments for you.
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