Eyelid bags and dark circles

Understanding eyelid bags and dark circles

‘Baggy eyes’ and/or dark circles around or under the eyes can affect your appearance, sometimes making you appear older or more tired than you are.

While bags around the eyes are not normally a condition requiring urgent medical intervention, many people choose to have cosmetic surgery in order to improve their appearance and to help them look more youthful.

Should you have ‘baggy eyes’ or dark circles and wish to talk with an eye consultant about cosmetic surgery options, please contact us to book an appointment.

What causes baggy eyes or dark circles?

The phrase ‘bags under the eyes’ is commonly used to describe the appearance caused by increased swelling or puffiness around the eyes.

This usually occurs with age, as tissues and muscles around the eyelids weaken. Skin may sag more than usual and more fat can appear under your eyes.

As the skin in the eyelids is very thin, any change to it can create a more noticeable difference than may otherwise be expected.

Should you be frustrated or unhappy with eyelid bags or dark circles around your eyes and considering cosmetic surgery to improve your appearance, it is sensible to consult with an eye consultant (ophthalmologist) for expert assessment and advice.

Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) aims to improve the appearance of bags around the eyes by tightening the muscle that raises it (the levator muscle) or the tendon that connects the eyelid to the levator muscle (the aponeurosis tendon). Excess fat or skin will also be removed.

The surgery is normally carried out under local anaesthetic, meaning you are awake but the area around your eyelid is numb so that you don’t feel any pain. In some cases, the surgery is done under general anaesthetic, but this will be decided in advance by your consultant and the anaesthetist.

Before the surgery begins, you will be given an injection of local anaesthetic to numb the eyelid and the surrounding area (this may cause a slight stinging sensation for a short period of time).

Once the local anaesthetic has taken full effect, the method taken by the surgeon will depend upon the cause of your baggy eyes, but a precise cut (incision) will be made at a natural crease in your skin and the surgeon will remove any excess fat and/or skin from the eyelid.

Once this is done, a combination of dissolving and non-dissolving stitches will be used to join the skin together and to help minimise the risk of scarring. 

The surgery usually takes a couple of hours and you will be able to return home the same day, once everything has been thoroughly checked by the surgical team at St Joseph’s.

Due to the nature of the surgery, you may choose to take some time off work following the operation in order to give yourself time to adequately recover.

You should not drive too soon after the operation as you may experience blurry vision, and your surgeon will be able to give you guidance about when you can start to drive again.  

You may be given some medication to promote healing, prevent infection and to reduce pain, and it is important you follow any instructions you are given about using these.

You will have an appointment booked with us following the operation, to assess your recovery and to check everything is healing nicely.

Should you have any queries or concerns at any stage, you should contact our expert team for help.   

Any surgical procedure carries risks and the potential for complications, including:

  • Infection,
  • Bleeding
  • Pain,
  • Adverse reaction to the anaesthetic,
  • Formation of blood clots.                

Complications and risks specific to surgery for eyelid bags include:

  • Discomfort in the eye,
  • Bruising of the eyelid and the area surrounding it, giving the appearance of a black eye,
  • Scarring on or around the eyelid,
  • Difficulty in fully closing the eye due to tightness in the skin.

The above risks are intended as guidelines only and are not exhaustive. We always recommend that you talk with your consultant about potential risks and complications before you decide to have any eye surgery.

Should you be suffering with unsightly bags under your eye that you would like improved, the consultant-led team at St Joseph’s Hospital is at the forefront of ophthalmic care in the UK, and we have world leading technology to help with improving the appearance of your eyes.

Our experienced eye consultants can provide you with a thorough eye examination to determine the extent and cause of your eyelid bags, and then advise you whether surgery is advised.

Should you decide to have surgery, you will be given the very finest care at all times.  

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