If people keep telling you that you look tired, or if you look in the mirror and find an older, tired-looking person staring back at you, it could be that the dark circles under your eyes are to blame. Although not getting enough sleep can be a factor in the development of dark circles, a number of other factors contribute to the appearance of the circles, including the thickness of your skin, the size of your blood vessels and pigmentation.
While concealers cover up the problem temporarily and plenty of over-the-counter creams promise to fade your dark circles, they’re only one way to solve the problem. In-office treatments such as laser skin resurfacing or microdermabrasion offer an effective treatment for your under eye circles, depending on the cause.
Laser Skin Resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing can help reduce the appearance of under eye circles in a few ways. The treatment improves the texture of the skin under the eyes and removes any excess pigmentation that can be causing the circles. Laser treatments also stimulate collagen production beneath the surface of the skin, which can make the skin in the area thicker, meaning circles are less likely to be visible.
The premise behind laser-skin resurfacing is simple. The laser removes or destroys the top layer of skin. New skin cells are produced. How deep the laser penetrates depends on the type of treatment. Microlasers only reach a superficial level while deep lasers can reach beyond the top layer of skin.
One thing to remember when thinking about laser skin resurfacing is that the deeper the treatment, the longer it will take to heal. You’ll want to avoid sun exposure for at least a few days after the treatment. The sun’s rays can cause hyperpigmentation to occur, which will undo the effects of the laser.
Although an intense pulsed light or IPL treatment also uses light to rejuvenate the skin and to help remove dark under-eye circles, it’s not the same thing as a laser treatment. While laser skin resurfacing can help reduce pigmentation and thicken the skin, an IPL treatment is a better option for people who have small blood vessels close to the surface of the skin that are causing dark circles.
IPL treatments don’t damage the outer layer of skin the way laser treatments do but will close off any capillaries or vessels just below the skin’s surface, causing them to fade from view.
You’ll most likely need several treatments of IPL to get the best results. Your doctor will work with you to decide how many treatments to perform and when to schedule each treatment. Usually, results appear slowly.
The treatment itself can cause a bit of discomfort, especially when performed near the sensitive eye area. You may feel a burning sensation or stinging during treatment. Afterwards, you might have some swelling or discoloration, which will fade in a few weeks.
Fillers and Fat
If the skin under your eyes is very thin, treatments such as injectable fillers or fat transfer can help plump up the area, reducing the hollowed eye look and easing the appearance of dark circles. The process of transferring fat from one area of the body to another is a bit more complicated than injecting a filler, but the results last longer. During fat transfer, the fat is first removed from one area of your body using liposuction. It is then processed to remove any impurities, before being injected into the desired area.
Only certain types of fillers should be used in the under eye area. Heavier fillers, such as Radiesse, are usually not recommended for use in the under eye area. Instead, your doctor might recommend a filler made from hyaluronic acid, such as Juvederm, to fill in the area and reduce dark circles.
Unlike fillers, fat transfer and IPL treatment, microdermabrasion focuses on the outer layer of skin. The process exfoliates the skin, encouraging new cells to grow. Microdermabrasion can be most effective if your dark circles are caused by pigmentation, especially if the dark pigment is due to sun exposure. After treatment, you’ll want to wear sunglasses and sunscreen to protect the area from the sun’s rays.
At the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Fairfax, VA, Dr. George Bitar is available to help you determine the cause of your dark eye circles and to recommend the treatment that’s right for you. To learn more about each treatment option, call (703) 206-0506 to schedule an appointment today.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.