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Dark Eye Circles

Dark Eye Circles












Dark Eye Circles (written by Dr Gary Si)

Are dark eye circles making you look tired and older than you really are? Don’t worry because you’re not alone.  Dark eye circles are a very common problem in today’s society.  Just as there are many different causes for dark eye circles, there are many different ways to improve them.  The commonly recognized causes are as follows:

Facial aging

  • Volume loss in both under eye and cheeks, causing sagginess
  • Thinning and decrease of laxity in lower eyelid
  • Bulging eye fat

Lifestyle choices

  • Smoking
  • Hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage
  • Caffeine or alcohol consumption
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Dehydration

Other causes

  • Hyperpigmentation caused by melasma
  • Allergies (e.g eczema and nasal congestion)
  • Environmental exposure
  • Heredity

As you can see, there are many causes for dark eye circles.  We always stress that prevention is better than cure, and here are some ways you can help prevent dark eye circles.

  • Get enough sleep!
  • A gently applied tea bag or cold compress can reduce blood vessel dilation.
  • Protect against the sun by wearing (large) sunglasses.
  • Slight elevation of the head during sleep will help prevent fluids from draining toward the eyes.
  • Refrain from smoking
  • Nasal decongestants can help prevent blood vessel dilation.
  • Don’t rub the area around the eyes

When all else fails, there are effective treatments for dark eye circles but these must be tailored to the specific cause as well.  Sometimes a combination of treatments is required to achieve significant improvement especially when there are multiple factors at play.

Common non-surgical procedures doctors recommend to get rid of dark circles include the following (from least invasive):

Dark circle eye creams

Skin lightening with topical bleaching agents may be recommended by your doctor to reduce dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation from melasma or sun damage.

Creams like Tri-Luma, which contains hydroquinone, are often recommended, as are products that contain kojic acid, Vitamins C and K, green tea, and licorice.


When blood vessels are visible as dark purple or blue under eye circles, intense pulsed light therapy (IPL or Photofacial) may be suggested to reduce these dark circles.

Not all doctors agree that it is safe to use IPL near the eyes, however some do recommend it for vascular pigmentation issues, such as dark circles under the eyes.

Skin resurfacing

Laser resurfacing can be used to help reduce dark circles by increasing collagen production, decreasing pigmentation problems, and improving overall skin quality. However, laser treatments and chemical peels are effective when used as part of a combination approach in treating dark circles.

Hyaluronic acid facial fillers

Injectable fillers containing hyaluronic acid are often used to correct dark circles created by thinning under eye skin or fat and tissue loss in the under eyes or upper cheeks.  Teosyal and Juvederm are commonly recommended hyaluronic acid fillers for restoring volume to the tear trough or upper cheek area.

Hyaluronic acid fillers are absorbed by the body within a few months to one year, so results are temporary. The only permanent filler typically recommended for the under eye area is a patient’s own fat.

Dark eye circles seldom resolve 100% despite treatment and can recur after some time if steps are not taken to prevent them.  Nonetheless, effective treatment is available for this problem especially when you consult with an experienced skilled doctor.  


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