Dark Circles of the Lower Eyelid

Leesburg | Loudoun | Virginia

Are you bothered by dark circles of the lower eyelid?  Learn more about why you might have dark circles and what you can do about it.

Leesburg | Loudoun | Virginia
Lower Eyelid Dark Circles

Look Younger for Longer

One of the most common concerns seen in our office for consultation is dark circles under the eyes.  The reasons for dark circles under the eyes are multi-factorial and include:

  • Loss of volume in the upper cheek eyelid junction which is no longer able to camouflage the underlying orbital bone
  • Increased sun exposure of the lower eyelids as the lower eyelid sits on a shelf on the upper cheek
  • Stretch of the lower eyelid skin as the cheek falls with age causes the lower eyelid skin to wrinkle and darken
Given these findings, the treatment strategy to addressing the dark circles of the lower eyelid are:
  • Add volume to the upper cheek eyelid junction with fillers or fat transfer
  • Forever Young BBL to bleach the dark abnormal pigment of the eyelid skin
  • Surgical removal of excess lower eyelid skin if necessary.

The dark circles under the lower eyelids are the result of many concurrent reasons.  

Loss of volume in the upper cheek eyelid junction 

  • The loss of volume seen in the region of the lower eyelids where it joins the cheek is one of the principle reasons for the development of dark circles.  The fat in this reason normally supports the eyelid and camouflages the visibility of the orbital bones.  Volume is lost as you age beyond your mid-twenties.  As that volume is lost, the remaining cheek tissue will sag, and the combination will expose the orbital bone.  Because the bone is dark and the bone is circular, the resulting visual is a dark circle below the lower lids.

Increased sun exposure of the lower eyelids

  • The lower eyelids are normally supported by the upper cheek.  And the upper cheek acts as a shelf with extra exposure to the sun.  Sun exposure on the cheek reflects light onto the lower eyelid which in turn results in extra tanning of the tissues in this area.  The tanning over time will permanently darken the skin pigment.

Stretch of the lower eyelid skin as the cheek falls with age 

  • An unfortunate fact is that everything falls with age.  The immediate cause is a loss of volume and tissue turgor and the break-down of tissue collagen.  As the volume is lost in the eyelid cheek junction ( see first bullet point ), the tissue around the upper cheek begins to deflate and sag.  The tissue will pull downwards causing the lower eyelid skin to stretch.  The stretched skin is extra skin that folds onto itself causing dark shadowing

Treatment strategies for the dark circles of the lower eyelids revolve around the three reasons for developing dark circles.   These include treatment options for addressing:

  • Loss of volume in the cheek eyelid junction and orbital bone exposure
  • Darkening of the eyelid skin due to excessive sun exposure
  • Excess skin and wrinkles from skin stretch over time and age
Depending on your individual issues, the strategy for addressing your concerns may require treating all 3 findings.  The first step in most patients is to address the volume loss and the skin pigment as these issues are relatively easy to address before considering the treatments for reducing skin excess and wrinkless

Volume loss in the lower eyelid cheek junction is inevitable and is the primary reason for the visibility of dark circles of the lower eyelid area.  

The volume loss is addressed either by injection of facial fillers like Juvederm or Voluma or the addition of fat by fat transfer.  

Facial fillers like Juvederm or Voluma 

Facial fillers can be injected into the area of volume loss.  This simple procedure can often be performed on the same day as your consultation.  The procedure will take about 10 minutes.  There is no down-time.

Fat Transfer

Fat Transfer is more of a surgical procedure.  Fat is obtained by liposuction from the abdomen or thighs.  The fat is processed during the same procedure to remove blood and other fluids from the fat.  The fat is then re-injected into the area that requires volume.  Facial fat transfer will take about 30 minutes.  Most patients will experience swelling and some bruising but will return to work in about one week.

Bleaching of the lower eyelid skin can be obtained by using skin lightening products such as hydroquinone in Obagi Clear or using the Forever Young BBL.  The most effective and most common method we use is the Forever Young BBL.

Forever Young BBL

BBL stands for broad band light, and is the the newest and most advanced version of IPL intense pulsed light therapy.  As the name states, the Forever Young BBL uses a broad range of light waves to capture and treat different skin pigmentations changes more effectively.  In the process, the broad bands of light have been shown to rejuvenate cellular DNA; giving the device its name Forever Young.  

The Forever Young BBL can be used for the eyes, face in general, neck, chest, or any other area.  Treatment for the eyelids takes only 5-10 minutes with no downtime.  The treatment may need to be repeated once or twice for optimal results.  Results after treatment can be visualized after 1-2 weeks.

Hydroquinone Products

Hydroquinone is a popular bleaching agent that works to bleach the pigment from skin melanin.  While effective, it is not as effective as a BBL treatment.  In addition, the results will take weeks to months to achieve.  We suggest it mostly as part of a maintenance regimen or for patients not ready for a BBL treatment.

Facelift or Mini-Facelift – for lower facial droop and jowling

Forehead lift- for brow droop 

Lower eyelid surgery- for dark circles, extra skin, or fat bags

Fat transfer or Facial fillers-  for facial volume

Forever Young BBL – For dark skin pigment, sun spots, age spots

Profractional Laser Peel – For fine lines and textural changes of the skin

Micropeel – For fine lines and textural changes of the skin


  • The best plastic surgeon near you should have the following qualifications
  • In practice for at least 3 years
  • Performs at least 1 upper eyelid surgery per week
  • Is a board certified plastic surgeon ( as opposed to a ENT, optholmolagist, or dermatologist )
  • Look at reviews in google

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