Sunken Vs. Puffy Eyes: Different Conditions with Different Treatments


Bevery Hills MDOften, our first glance into the mirror in the morning can reveal that we look as if we have not slept in weeks, and that the skin around our eyes is swollen, sunken, or discolored.

With the eyes being one of the most prominent and easily recognizable features of the face, it becomes very obvious when they’re not looking their best, and can change the look of the entire face.

Enhancing the appearance of the skin around the eye is a nearly universal desire. Although it can surely be discouraging, it is important to remember that we are not alone: There are, in fact, ways to treat this area. Even better, there may be natural, non-invasive ways to treat under-eye skin problems.

Under-eye aging is caused by multiple variables and each factor requires specific, targeted treatment to aid in reversing nature’s effects. Many people turn to plastic surgery to achieve smoother, clearer, and fuller under-eye skin, and many others have at least entertained the idea once or twice. This is because many of us are mislead to believe that procedures like filler injections or fat removal are the only solutions. We are not familiar with causal factors associated with under-eye conditions, and thus are not aware of the options for treating them.

Furthermore, most of us are not aware that different under-eye conditions require drastically different forms of treatment. In realizing that many people have false assumptions about the eye area, I decided to put together the information that will put YOU in control of your skin’s ultimate rejuvenation and future well-being.

The skin around the eye is 10 times thinner than the skin on the rest of the body. It also contains less fat than other areas of the skin. Consequently, the skin around our eyes ages at a significantly faster rate than the rest of our bodies, and requires a more careful treatment approach.

With this in mind, it is safe to say that there is no time to waste on topical products that simply don’t work. Most cosmetic formulas only offer a temporary solution or quick cover-up, indirectly steering more and more of us to consider going under the knife. Thankfully, there are a few key agents that actually offer a quick and effective alternative!

There are two main conditions associated with aging under-eye skin. “Bags” occur when the skin around the lower eye appears to hang loose, pouch-like, or puffy. This is due to leakage within capillaries, which causes fluid to accumulate under the skin. This particular kind of buildup, consequently, causes the skin to swell, or to appear “puffy”.

Puffiness and or bagginess around the eyes is usually accompanied by discoloration. Generally, the under-eye area appears to be darker than the surrounding area. This is perceived by most to be cosmetically unappealing.

The appearance of dark rings around the eyes is another common issue that comes with aging, and may indeed be the opposite of the swelling and puffiness that many people assume they are experiencing. The dark circle may, in fact, be a shadow, and what is perceived as puffiness may actually be a “sunken” effect.

In this case, the skin around the lower portion of the eye socket appears to be thin and sunken in. This condition is not only associated with old age; it is also due to over exposure to UV rays and the natural depletion of collagen within the skin over time. In other cases, dark, sunken eyes are simply hereditary.

As we age, we gradually lose volume in the skin around our eyes due to loss of collagen and subcutaneous fat. At the same time, blood capillaries beneath the skin gradually become more and more visible, causing our skin to taken on a darkened appearance.

Over-exposure to sunlight is another factor that is correlated with dark circles. Sunlight causes our bodies to produce melanin, which is responsible for giving our skin its pigment. Excessive exposure to UV rays can actually instruct your body to accelerate and increase levels of this pigmentation. Lack of sleep, alcohol consumption (i.e. dehydration), nutrition and diet, and sudden weight loss also contribute to dark sunken eyes.

So the question remains, which agents actually work against all this? We know that bags, puffiness, and inflammation are all products of capillary leakage and excess fluid built up under the eye. We also know that dark, sunken in eyes - a different issue completely - can be hereditary, a product of collagen depletion, sun damage, lifestyle, and or just natural aging.

What most of us don’t know is that topical eye formulas can actually do a lot for us. The appropriate formula containing the appropriate ingredients can add moisture, strengthen delicate skin, treat dark circles, address puffiness, and reduce the overall look of aging. Best of all, younger-looking eyes means a younger-looking face, so treating this area properly could ultimately mean dramatically improving your overall look.

For sunken eyes, look for ingredients that prompt collagen production and moisture retention to create a “filler” effect.

Peptides, the building-blocks of protein, can naturally “trick” skin into producing extra collagen, leading to a plumper, more “filled-in” effect in areas where collagen has been excessively depleted.

Hyaluronic Acid is a molecule that holds several times molecular weight in water. This improves moistures levels and can provide a “filler” effect, as hyaluronic acid molecules physically expand in size underneath the skin. This means a volumized, “cushioned” effect that can help reduce the sunken look that leads to dark shadows and, ultimately, older-looking skin.

Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans work in a similar way, retaining moisture to help “fill in” and moisturize sunken under-eye skin. This compound also helps improve elasticity and firmness, to ultimately help reduce the look of sagging.

For puffy eyes, look for ingredients that help reduce fluid buildup and diminish swelling.

Yeast derivatives can help to oxygenate cells and increase cellular respiration, leading to a distinct anti-inflammatory effect, calming and soothing puffy under-eye skin. Products containing yeast derivatives are for occasional use only, although interestingly, they can help stimulate procollagen and hyaluronic acid synthesis, making this an excellent occasional solution for those whose eyes are simultaneously sunken and puffy.

Caffeine can also help to reduce fluid buildup in swollen skin. For those experiencing under-eye puffiness, caffeine can help reduce the fluid retention that leads to a swollen or engorged appearance.

Various plant extracts can also help reduce irritation, puffiness, and inflammation due to naturally-occurring antioxidants.

Soothing Agents such as oat extract can also help reduce any puffiness associated with irritation, as may occur in the case of crying or continually wiping the under-eye area. This type of irritation can also come with lack of sleep, causing strain and further fluid buildup as eyes struggle to stay open.

Important Note: Never apply anything containing hydrocortisone (or any other corticosteroid) to the eye area unless instructed to do so by a doctor. These products are specifically contraindicated for opthamological use, as they can induce glaucoma.

For Dark Circles, look for products with light-reflective properties to help reduce shadowing or discoloration.

Diamond Powder is a top-quality ingredient that can help light “bounce” off of skin and ultimately reduce the appearance of darkness. While this is not a treatment, it is a highly-effective temporary solution for short-term brightening of the eye area.

Correctly identifying your own particular under-eye problems can help you to choose a safe and effective treatment that may ultimately take years off of your entire appearance.





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