Under-eye bags are a cosmetic concern, and usually appear naturally with age. When the body ages, tissues and muscles around the eyes weaken. This causes the fat that normally supports the eyelids to migrate to the lower lids, resulting in a puffy or swollen appearance. Fluid may also accumulate in the area beneath the eyelids, which also results in the appearance of under-eye bags. Several cosmetic treatments are available for treating the problem, from mild home remedies to surgical options.
Cosmetic treatments for under-eye bags reduce the appearance of swelling and puffiness under the eye area, although only surgery can permanently reverse the problem. Some treatments provide additional benefits, such as tightening the skin and improving skin tone. Surgical treatments may also remove excess or baggy skin that interfere with vision. The primary function of cosmetic treatments is to improve appearance by eliminating or diminishing bags under the eyes.
Home remedies, skin treatments and in some cases, surgery, are all used to treat under-eye bags. Most people begin with simple home remedies and lifestyle changes including applying cold compresses to the affected area, sleeping with the head slightly raised, getting enough sleep at night, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol. If these treatments don't yield results, some individuals choose skin treatments such as laser resurfacing and chemical peels. These treatments may lessen the appearance of swelling under the eyes and improve skin discoloration, according to MayoClinic.com. As a last resort, a surgeon can remove bags from under the eyes in a procedure known as blepharoplasty.
Most cosmetic treatments for under-eye bags are considered safe, especially home remedies and lifestyle changes. Skin peels and laser resurfacing may cause redness, sensitivity, infection, temporary or permanent loss of skin pigment, scarring, whiteheads, cold sores and numbness, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Your dermatologist can provide for more information on the risks of these treatments specific to your situation. Patients who undergo blepharoplasty to remove under-eye bags may experience blurred vision, gummy eyes, swelling and bruising for the first 10 days after the procedure. These effects should clear completely within six weeks.
Although under-eye bags may occur as a part of the natural aging process, you can take steps to prevent the need for cosmetic treatment. The University of Alabama at Birmingham recommends getting at least eight hours of sleep a night, sleeping with your head slightly elevated to prevent fluid from collecting in your lower eyelids and drinking at least eight glasses of water a day to prevent water retention. Avoiding allergens may also prevent bags and puffiness, as some cosmetic products such as hair dyes and soaps can cause under-eye reactions.
If you experience under-eye bags regularly, make an appointment with your doctor immediately to discuss the problem. An underlying medical condition, such as allergies, may be contributing to or responsible for the bags under your eyes. Treating this condition may eliminate the problem. In most cases, cosmetic treatment for under-eye bags is not covered by health insurance, although treating an underlying medical cause may be covered.
- MayoClinic.com: Bags Under Eyes
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Skin Wrinkles and Blemishes Resurfacing Treatments
- “Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide”; Harvard Medical School, Anthony L. Komaroff; 2004
- shvili/iStock/Getty Images