What causes dark circles under eyes, eye bags and puffy eyes and what treatments help? Though poor sleep exacerbates all of these, it is not the main culprit. Each of these under eye bothers different and sometimes overlapping causes, and the first step in treatment is identifying what is causing your concern. Under-eye concerns can be dark circles, under-eye bags or puffy eyes. Treatments include; eye creams, fillers for dark circles, laser treatment, PRP (platelet-rich therapy) for volume loss, texture concern and pigmentation, eye lift surgery, changing lifestyle factors, etc.
What Causes Dark Circles Under Eyes?
Dark circles under the eyes are prevalent. There are three leading causes, and help is available for each.
The Three Main Causes of Dark Circles Dark Circles
The first two causes of dark circles under the eyes are the loss of volume under the eye area. Naturally, over time the collagen decreases in your skin. Simultaneously, fat pads in your face, which usually plump out facial features, shrink and are pulled down your face with gravity.
1. Dark Circles caused by Under Eye Hollows or Tear Troughs
Essentially the formation of dark circles resulting from under-eye hollows or tear troughs is from loss of volume (fat volume) in the area where the lower eyelid and cheek meet.
The malar fat pad, responsible for the curve of your cheek at the lid cheek junction, moves down the face. The descent of fat pads (and shrinking of the fat pads) is responsible for many ageing signs that occur across your face. But the descent of the malar fat pad under the eye area leaves it hollow with the formation of a trough to form running. The dark circles, in this case, are due to a shadow in the tear trough created by light falling onto the skin. The shadow appears here because the hollow under the eye is deeper than the surrounding skin.
Eye bags can develop at the same time, but the cause of these is different.
Under-eye filler treatment can lessen the shadow appearance of dark circles.
- Under-eye filler can help reduce the appearance of dark circles.
- Dermal Filler can be placed in the cheek area or directly in the tear trough. To reduce tear troughs, the aim is to replace volume in the lid/cheek junction, but mid-face rejuvenation is sometimes required.
- Filler will improve the cosmetic appearance of puffiness or ‘bags under eyes.
2. Dark Circles That Present As A Blue To Purple Discolouration.
Dark circles, presenting with a bluish discolouration, result from loss of volume in the skin. Some people begin with naturally thinner skin. And by the time we are 20, we are losing 1% of our collagen per year. As the skin becomes thinner, the blue to purple colour of blood vessels can be seen through your skin.
Any factor that causes blood vessels to dilate will make this discolouration worse and exacerbate the dark circles’ appearance. These include stress from poor sleep. Lack of sleep makes this discolouration worse, as the stress placed on your body by poor sleep can cause the vessels to dilate. Sometimes pigment ‘hemosiderin’ from the blood vessels seeps into the skin.
Treatment Of Bluish Discolouration
First up, make sure you get enough sleep. Using cold tea bags or cucumbers can help by shrinking the blood vessels. If this does not work, concealer will disguise this. Vitamin K cream can also help break down the pigment.
Vascular lasers can also help, and once again, dermal fillers can help lessen the appearance by giving the skin more volume.
3. Brown Discolouration From Sun
The third cause of dark circles under the eyes is Melanin production stimulated by the sun.
Your skin naturally produces melanin when exposed to the sun. Especially in climates like Brisbane with sun most days of the year, it is important to wear sunscreen. If your eye area is exposed, some people have a genetic predisposition to darkening around the eyes from melanin.
The important factor in decreasing these dark circles is wearing concealer, sunscreen, hats and sun protection. It is important to get a non-chemical sunscreen as these irritate eyes.
How To Get Rid Of Dark Circles Under Eyes?
PRP or Platelet Rich Therapy
PRP is traditionally used in the under-eye area to improve skin texture and quality for fine lines and wrinkles. With observation, we have seen a lessening in dark circles under eyes caused by both bluish and brown discolouration using PRP.
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What Causes Bags Under eyes
Eye bags are either ‘present all of the time’ or ‘temporary’. If the puffy eyes are present all of the time, the cause is from changes to the muscles and ligaments under the eye and under-eye fat herniation. Temporary ‘puffy eyes’ can be settled. There is a broad range of environmental factors that result in an accumulation of fluid in tissues in the under-eye area.
The two can co-exist; that is, you can have bags under the eyes, made temporarily worse by swelling. So what can cause these two presentations, and how to get rid of puffy eyes?
1. Temporary – lifestyle
2. Present all of the time – bags under eyes
1. ‘Permanent’ What Causes Bags Under Eyes?
Whether you develop eye bags has some genetic basis. However, environmental stressors affect ageing changes, including stress, cigarette smoke, and pollution, affecting the progression. Permanent under-eye bags develop from the ligaments’ loosening and stretching and weakening of the muscles under the eye. Once a night, tight, coherent band areas divide and allow fat under the eye to herniate forwards.
Causes such as thyroid can cause long term changes to the whole eye areas, but this is different to eye bags.
How to Get Rid Of Bags Under Eyes?
1. Surgery, under-eye blepharoplasty. Often upper lid and lower lid surgery are performed at the same time. Some people elect to use non-surgical means to help delay the need for surgery. Muscle relaxants and dermal fillers can be used to create a non-surgical eye lift or tear trough fillers used to lessen the appearance of under-eye bags.
2. Fillers for eye bags can be used to disguise bags under the eyes. Care must be exercised in treating this area as the appearance of eye bags are exacerbated by swelling and puffiness. The dermal fillers used to camouflage the bags under the eyes contain products that accumulate water, so incorrect placement of these, placing too much, not putting it deep enough can worsen the appearance by increasing swelling.
What Causes Puffy Eyes?
Any factors environmental or internal that causes the accumulation of fluid in the skin can result in puffy eyes. The under-eye area is particularly prone to accumulation of fluid because of the difference in lymphatic drainage. Any condition which causes a systemic or localised inflammation, and this includes poor sleep.
- Lack of sleep or poor sleep.
- Allergic reaction or hay fever.
- Infection to sinuses or eye.
- Excessive alcohol causes inflammation.
- Incorrect placement of filler or lower eyelid procedures.
How to Get Rid Of Puffy Eyes
- Addressing any underlying factors; treating infections or allergic reactions.
- Getting sufficient sleep, drinking plenty of water and reducing stress.
- And yes, cold tea bags and cucumbers on the eyes and splashing cold water on the face help reduce puffy eyes because they cause constriction of blood vessels.
- Lymphatic drainage massage.