Learn about causes, treatments and self care for bags under eyes, which become more common as you age.
Bags under eyes are mild swelling or puffiness under the eyes. They're common as you age and the tissues around your eyes weaken, including some of the muscles supporting your eyelids. Fat that helps support the eyes can then move into the lower eyelids, causing them to appear puffy. Fluid may also accumulate below your eyes.
Bags under eyes are usually a cosmetic concern and rarely a sign of a serious condition. At-home remedies, such as cool compresses, can help improve their appearance. For persistent or bothersome under-eye puffiness, eyelid surgery may be an option.
Symptoms of bags under eyes can include:
You may not like the way they look, but bags under eyes are usually harmless and don't require medical care. See your health care provider if the condition causes vision problems, irritation or headaches or is accompanied by skin rash.
Your health care provider will want to rule out other possible causes that can contribute to the swelling, such as thyroid disease, infection, connective tissue disease or an allergy. You may be referred to a health care provider who specializes in the eyes (ophthalmologist), plastic surgery or plastic surgery of the eyes (oculoplastic surgeon).
Bags under eyes are caused when the tissue structures and muscles supporting your eyelids weaken. The skin may start to sag, and fat that's usually around the eye can move into the area below your eyes. Also, the space below your eyes can gather fluid, making the area look puffy or swollen. Several factors cause or worsen this effect, including:
Bags under eyes are usually a cosmetic concern and don't require medical treatment. Home and lifestyle treatments may help reduce puffiness. But if you're concerned about the appearance of under-eye swelling, medical and surgical treatments are available. Treatment may not be covered by medical insurance if it's done solely to improve your appearance.
If you think the swelling under your eyes is caused by an allergy, ask your health care provider about prescription allergy medication.
Various wrinkle treatments are used to improve the appearance of puffiness under the eyes. These include laser resurfacing, chemical peels and fillers, which may improve skin tone, tighten the skin and rejuvenate the under-eye area. For people with brown or Black skin, laser resurfacing carries the risk of permanent changes in skin color (hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation). Talk with your health care provider about which laser resurfacing technique reduces this risk.
Depending on what's causing bags under the eyes, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) may be a treatment option. Your surgeon will tailor your blepharoplasty (BLEF-uh-roe-plas-tee) to your unique anatomy and needs, but in general the procedure involves removing excess fat through an incision in the natural crease of the upper eyelid or inside the lower lid. The procedure is usually done in an outpatient setting with local anesthesia.
In addition to correcting bags under eyes, blepharoplasty can also repair:
Talk with your health care provider about the side effects of eyelid surgery — dry eyes, watery eyes, pain, swelling, bruising and blurred vision. Rare complications include visual loss, bleeding, infection, injury to eye muscles, corneal abrasion and drooping of an eyelid.
During blepharoplasty, the surgeon cuts into the creases of the eyelids to trim sagging skin and muscle and remove excess fat. The surgeon rejoins the skin with tiny dissolving stitches.
The following tips can help you reduce or eliminate bags under your eyes:
Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your health care provider. For bags under eyes, some basic questions to ask your health care provider include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions that occur to you.
Your health care provider is likely to ask you a number of questions, including: