Under-eye circles and bags aren’t just caused by lack of sleep (although that is a main contributing factor). “In addition to fatigue, the causes include allergies, the natural aging process and even genetics,” explains Beverly Hills oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Christopher Zoumalan. Regardless of cause, dark circles and puffiness can be difficult to camouflage, and Dr. Zoumalan shares the top treatments for improving their appearance.
A potent anti-aging eye cream is essential for improving the look of under-eye bags—and can also help prevent the damage that causes them to appear worse. Ingredients to look for include peptides to reinforce the skin’s underlying support structure and antioxidants to shield this delicate skin from environmental damage. Dr. Zoumalan also recommends EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 because it protects skin from the UV damage that can lead to visible signs of aging and helps even out skin tone while being gentle on delicate skin around the eyes.
Hyaluronic acid fillers
“Dark circles can be due to shadows caused by loss of volume in the lower eyelids and tear troughs,” Dr. Zoumalan explains, and hyaluronic acid fillers help restore youthful plumpness and disguise discoloration by creating a cushion between the skin and underlying blood vessels. “These fillers can be used to improve the look of under-eye bags as well by adding volume to areas surrounding the pockets of fat, in turn creating a smooth transition from the under-eye area down to the cheek,” he says.
“Darkness beneath the eyes can be the result of hyperpigmented (discolored) eyelid skin,” says Dr. Zoumalan. Skin-brightening creams can help improve hyperpigmentation around the eyes and the entire face, and they can be used in combination with chemical peels for optimal results. Dr. Zoumalan recommends that patients use his own customized 4% hydroquinone for two months followed by SkinMedica’s Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum for long-term maintenance.
Thin skin can allow the color of the underlying blood vessels to show through and create the appearance of dark circles. Chemical peels can be an effective option in some cases because they help thicken the skin by increasing collagen production, and they can eliminate pigment that contributes to dark circles as well. “Chemical peels can be used on their own, but they also enhance the results of other procedures such as injectable fillers and blepharoplasty (eyelid) surgery,” Dr. Zoumalan explains. As an added bonus, chemical peels help tighten the skin and improve fine lines around the eyes.
For more severe dark circles and under-eye bags (as well as wrinkles and sagging skin), blepharoplasty surgery provides the most comprehensive and long-lasting improvement. According to Dr. Zoumalan, “This procedure allows surgeons to remove or reposition fat, remove excess skin and tighten underlying muscles to restore a more youthful, rested appearance to the entire eye area.” Fully customized for each patient’s unique needs, “The goal of blepharoplasty is to create a natural-looking outcome, and today’s advanced techniques allow surgeons to give patients the results they want while avoiding an overdone or surprised appearance. An experienced surgeon wants patients to look like themselves after surgery—but better.”