Banish the Bags Under Your Eyes

Banish the Bags Under Your Eyes

Do you wake up looking more tired than when you went to bed? Do people tellyou it''s time for a vacation the day you get back? If so, it''s a safe betyou''ve got some under eye "baggage" -- puffy eyes, eye bags, darkcircles, and shadows. It''s also a safe bet they''re making you look more tiredand older than you really are.

"It''s not unusual to see women and men in their 20s and 30s who havethis problem," says Ellen Marmur, MD, chief of dermatologic and cosmeticsurgery at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. "And, it only getsworse as time goes on."

Plastic surgeon Darrick E. Antell, MD, agrees. He sought medical treatmentfor his problem.

"I was getting so annoyed hearing everyone ask me why I looked so tiredwhen I wasn''t tired, or if I had been out late the night before when Ihadn''t," Antell says. "So when I was 32 I had cosmetic surgery on myeyes."

Antell, a plastic surgeon in private practice in New York, is also anassistant clinical professor of surgery at Columbia University. "I''m 57now," he says, "and next to marrying my wife, it was the best thing Iever did."

Although cosmetic surgery is certainly an option -- and we''ll tell you moreabout that below -- there are other ways to treat under-eye bags and sags, darkcircles, and puffiness.

Before looking at the remedies, though, it''s important to know a littlesomething about how and why these eye problems occur -- and how you might avoidthem to begin with.

Puffiness and under-eye bags: Why they occur and what you can do

The problems with eye bags usually start small. You may notice a barelyvisible "pillow" of puffiness just below the lower lid. If you leave ituntreated, it can billow out further. Then, over time, it gives way to afull-blown bag.

But how and why does the puffiness start? One cause, experts say, is thenatural aging process. "There is a certain amount of fat naturally in theunder-eye area," Antell says. "It''s held in place by ligaments. As youage, the ligaments get weaker, allowing the fat to push forward, forming thatlittle puffy pillow under your eye."

As time goes on, the puff gets bigger, he says. Then skin loses elasticity,allowing the formation of those loose wads of skin we call "bags." Howsoon that happens, however, depends a lot on how many bags Mom and Dad had --and when their problems began.

"A lot of it has to do with heredity," Marmur said. "It can be astructural, anatomic, genetic issue that simply causes some people to developthis problem sooner than others."

But it''s not just heredity. Lifestyle factors matter too. Do youconsistently cheat yourself of sleep? Do you eat a lot of saltyfood snacks and retain a lot of water? Are you getting enough exercise? Marmur tells WebMD allthese things can cause bags to form a lot sooner.

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