As you age, one of the most bothersome new additions to your face that you may encounter are those dreaded under-eye bags. Partly genetics and mostly the wear and tear of aging, this unwanted puffiness is the result of a loss of fat combined with the natural effects of gravity on your cheeks. Those saggy bags can have everyone from your best friend to your local barista telling you just how exhausted you look. But before you vow revenge on this trouble area, remember how good it’s been to you over the years. After all, the lower eyelid area has housed your tear trough that has allowed you to laugh and cry and is how to your eyelid crease that help make that wink look so flirty fun. The lower eyelid is also home to the zygomatic hollow which lines your cheek. On the flip side, the meatier features contained in the lower eyelid are the orbicularis roll, the fat and fluid bags and the triangular malar mound (also called the festoon). As we age, these components start to lose some of the fat padding they once had resulting in the sagging and puffiness that lead to the undesirable results seen in under-eye bags. Thankfully, you don’t have to live with puffy and dark under-eye bags. Let’s take a closer look at the things you can do to fight back while still being gentle to your very delicate area of skin under the eye. Here’s how.


So what’s really happening to your under-eye skin when your bags start to show? There are other reasons for under-eye swelling that may mean you’re in for the short term only. Too much salt, fluid retention, a thyroid issue or sleep deprivation may be the cause for your puff. But if aging and genetics play a role, you may need a longer term treatment. So what’s going on in those cases? First, collagen breakdown happens. The collagen production naturally happens inside your skin celld but as we age, collagen begins to breakdown leaving behind hollow spots where smooth skin once appeared. This collagen decline leans to lose, wrinkled and saggy skin. In addition to the loss of collagen, there are three other important avenues to investigate when it comes to understanding what’s happening below your eye.

  1. Fat facts. Fat takes a lot of the blame when it comes to under-eye bags and for good reason. Your eyes contain pockets of fat that help protect you. But as we age the communication gets a big mixed up leading to fat that is misplaced. Some research points to fat accumulation, meaning too much fat is placed in the area under your eye leading to bags. Other research leans toward fat translocation where the fat is actually displaced due to a weakening of the membrane that ends up looking a whole lot like puffiness.
  2. Blood Vessel Leakage. Due to a loss of subcutaneous fat due to aging, you can see blood vessels more clearly under the thin skin. If the blood vessels have been broken then it’s possible for the hemoglobin to leak out into the surrounding skin. As this occurs, pockets of pigmented skin form causing discoloration, known as dark circles. These vessels appear blue in color due to poor circulation from less oxygenated blood. Where under-eye bags are concerned, it’s actually the blood vessel leakage that gives the bags their purple/blue hue.
  3. Loose Muscles. As you age the orbicularis oculi muscle (the muscle responsible for your eye movement) can lose elasticity under the eye. As the skin loosens, it can cause a sagging and pulling down of the thin under-eye skin. Using muscle tightening as a way to pull the skin taut can show great benefits at reversing this cause of under-eye bags.


So how exactly do you treat under-eye bags? Can you really make them go away? There are several bona-fide treatments available on the markets that do help to reduce the appearance of under-eye bags. CoEnzyme Q10 is a natural nutrient found in the body, mainly through the food we eat. When used as a beauty product, it provides great success at improving the skins elasticity and reducing the appearance of fine lines. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme which promotes mitochondrial activity that actually works to burn fat! Tightening ingredients like vitamin c help to brighten skin as well as make skin taut. Peptides are a type of protein that helps hydrate the skin and promote collagen production while ingredients, like vitamin K, are showing great results at preventing blood vessel leakage. These are all great options to explore but if you want long-lasting results, you may want to talk to your dermatologist about using dermal fillers or lower lid eye surgery to remove the bags, known as blepharoplasty. It also helps to adopt a healthy lifestyle of drinking plenty of water, eating well and getting plenty of sleep. Also, because the eye are is the thinnest skin on your body and ages easily, make sure to treat the area gently and always wear a sunscreen.


So when it comes to choosing the right product, how do you know which one will be a good fit for your skin? Always remember that less is more when it comes to selecting the product you want to use. You want to always look first at the ingredient list for beauty products that you plan on using. Remember, knowledge is power and you need to know what products are full of unnecessary fillers and which ones provide valuable ingredients. Look for a list of simple ingredients that contain the least amount of silicone (synthetic creations made from blending natural ingredients during a chemical process) as not to aggravate acne and other skin conditions. You also want to make sure that your product doesn’t contain any fragrance as they just add a ton of unneeded ingredients. Several products on the market contain unnecessary ingredients that don’t benefit the cause. Make sure you look for products where each ingredient has a certifiable reason for its use.

Under-eye bags don’t have to be something you live with. You can make steps now to help reduce their appearance while still nourishing your sensitive under-eye skin. Your best line of defense is always your dermatologist who can help guide you to the treatment that’s perfect for handling your specific under-eye bags. Whether, they’re due to a few sleepless nights or a genetic trait you just can’t shake on your own, there are treatments available to help take back control from the prowess of the puff. You’ll be glad you treated them and even your barista will take note!  

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Derm Young