At some point, all of us experience puffy eyes—whether from lack of sleep, a bout of crying or too many cocktails. But under-eye bags, while obviously similar to puffiness, are a different beast. They’re harder to get rid of because they are a “structural defect,” said Dr. Neil Sadick of Sadick Dermatology in Great Neck. The fat pads under the eyes can herniate or protrude due to genetic predisposition, aging or a combination of both.
Lifestyle factors can also contribute to the condition, like being overweight. “Extra weight tends to make eye bags more full and the abnormality more noticeable,” said Dr. Stafford R. Broumand of 740 Park Plastic Surgery. In addition, excessive sun exposure (not a great idea to begin with) may be particularly detrimental. It turns skin crepey and blotchy, which only worsens the sensitive area below the eyes. However, there are treatment options available for bloated and tired-looking peepers. Choices range from non-invasive creams to surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.
Eye Creams: the appearance of dry, crepey skin and puffiness, or very slight bagging, can be helped by eye creams with ingredients that specifically target aging around the eye. Clarins Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate ($84; clarinsusa.com) has organic harungana, a plant that encourages the synthesis of collagen, which has been used in Africa for centuries to heal skin. SkinCeuticals AOX+ Eye Gel ($92; skinceuticals.com) features ruscus aculeatus, an evergreen shrub known to increase circulation and reduce swelling. It also contains caffeine to drain any congestion of fluids under the eye.
ENDYMED iFine One of the newer treatment options approved by the FDA, iFine is best suited for younger patients who aren’t quite ready for a surgical solution; according to Sadick, the ideal age for the treatment is 35-40. The iFine instrument uses patented “3Deep” radiofrequency technology that works by gradually heating the deep layers of the skin (no, it doesn’t hurt, assured Sadick). This creates new collagen, which reduces wrinkles as well as firms and tightens. Some of that is seen right away, but long-term effects will be noticeable four to six weeks after the treatment. Sadick said “iFine gives both immediate tissue tightening and long term, new collagen production.”
EndyMed iFine takes about 20 minutes and there’s no downtime. Since it’s a noninvasive treatment, patients can go directly to work afterwards or even swim or go to the gym. The results last 6 to 12 months. Sadick recommended repeating the treatment once a year, as more of a maintenance approach than a reversal of major, long-term sagging.
Blepharoplasty. It’s a mouthful, but blepharoplasty is just the technical term for eyelid surgery. It’s considered the best solution for prominent under-eye bags. The procedure has been around for more than 20 years, but the risk of complications has decreased recently, largely because of advances in pre-operative evaluations of eye conditions (such as dry eye), as well as techniques that result in less scarring. Also, it can now be done under local anesthesia, which means a shorter recovery time of about a week.
Expect swelling and bruising, but both are usually minimal after four days. If appearance is not a concern, patients can go back to work after 48 hours. “The surgery has multiple components, which can include removal of excess skin and removal of protruding fat bags under the lids, as well as resurfacing of the eyelid skin,” said Broumand. The age range is wide for this procedure, and more men are opting in, reflective of the general trend towards guys embracing appearance-enhancing products and treatments in recent years. Generally the results are permanent, but depending on the age of the patient, genetics and degree of sun exposure, there might be need for a minimal “touch-up” procedure years down the road.