What Causes Dark Circles Beneath the Eyes?


Aging is the Most Common Cause

Your eyes are believed to be a window to the soul. They convey a full range of expression and make a difference in how you are perceived in terms of health and beauty. Dark circles beneath the eyes are detractors. They suggest fatigue or sadness or being past your prime. The physical characteristic can suggest troubles even when your emotions do not match. What causes dark circles and what can be done about them? 

Some people have dark eyelid skin that they inherited from their parents. “Hyper pigmentation” is benign, but just as it is impossible to erase a leopard’s spots, it is difficult to change the natural color of your skin if that is your genetic type. 

Illnesses can cause changes in the tissues around the eyes. Lack of sleep, smoking, and excessive alcohol intake are lifestyle choices that negatively impact the appearance of your eyes. Thyroid, kidney and liver disorders can contribute to dark under-eye circles. Allergies, asthma, and circulatory diseases cause swelling that may lead to eyelid changes. 

For those of us in good general health who were not born with dark lower eyelid skin, the most common cause of circles under the eye is simply aging. Eyelid skin is thin and cheek skin is thick. The zone where thin meets thick is called the “lid-cheek junction.” This line begins to drop as we age. The zone between eyelid and cheek becomes more pronounced and the surface irregularity casts a shadow that creates the dark circle. The lower eyelid shape changes and looks like an upside down triangle with its peak pointing away from the middle of the eye. The line from the inner corner of your eye to the peak of the triangle is referred to by plastic surgeons as the “tear trough deformity.”

The problem can be a combination of dark skin pigment, loose skin, fine wrinkling, excess fat, or loss of fat, gravitational forces and irregular contour.

So what choices are there for dark lower eyelids? Treatment begins with identifying the cause.

1. Hyper pigmentation is caused by excess brown pigment (melanin) in the skin. This may be responsive to fade creams, such as hydroquinone, chemical peels, and sun screens. Other skin care products such as Retin A can be useful. 

2. If the cause of the shadow beneath the eye is a contour abnormality, then injectable fillers such as Restylane and Juvederm can be placed in the tear trough deformity for an improvement that lasts 6-9 months.

3. A blepharoplasty is eyelid surgery that gives long lasting improvement for the eyelid changes of aging. It tightens eyelid skin, repositions fat in the orbit, and smoothes the transition from lower lid to cheek. For more on this topic check out Services>Surgical Facial and visit my Facial Procedures gallery.

Category: Anti-aging, Beauty, Blepharoplasty, Nutrition, Skin Care

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