Bags Under Eyes

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Overview

Bags under eyes are usually a cosmetic concern and rarely a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. At-home remedies, such as cool compresses, can help improve the appearance of bags under eyes. For persistent or bothersome under-eye puffiness, eyelid surgery may be an option.

When to see a doctor

You may not like the way they look, but bags under eyes are usually harmless and don't require medical care. See your doctor if the swelling is severe, persistent, painful, itchy or red.

Your doctor will want to rule out other possible causes that can contribute to the swelling, such as thyroid disease, infection or an allergy. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in the eyes (ophthalmologist), plastic surgery or plastic surgery of the eyes (oculoplastic surgeon).

Causes

As you age, the tissue structures and muscles supporting your eyelids weaken. The skin may start to sag, and fat that is normally confined to the area around the eye (orbit) can move into the area below your eyes. Also, the space below your eyes can accumulate fluid, making the under-eye area appear puffy or swollen. Several factors cause or worsen this effect, including:

  • Fluid retention, especially upon waking or after a salty meal
  • Lack of sleep
  • Allergies
  • Smoking
  • Heredity — under-eye bags can run in families

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