Considering Under-Eye Filler? Here’s What to Expect

If you have dark circles under your eyes, you’ve undoubtedly tried every brightening cream out there to no avail. But the truth is that undereye filler is one of the few things that can actually change their appearance for real, depending on what’s causing your dark circles.

But before you pursue a procedure like this, it’s important to know what it actually is and what you can really expect from it. So, here’s what you should know before getting undereye fillers.

What can undereye fillers—aka tear trough fillers—actually treat?

The main reason to get undereye fillers is to fill a hollowness under the eye colloquially called a “tear trough,” Noelani Gonzalez, M.D., director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West, tells SELF. If you have this type of hollowness or loss of volume in that area, you might have dark circles or shadowing under your eye.

It’s important to distinguish dark circles caused by loss of volume or your basic anatomy (both of which can be hereditary) from dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation in the area, Jenny Hu, M.D., dermatologist with Keck Medicine of USC and clinical associate professor of dermatology (clinician educator) at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, tells SELF. “If [a patient has] true pigmentation, then the dermal filler won’t help,” she says.

Also, undereye fillers won’t do much for larger bags under their eyes, Dr. Hu says. For those patients, she usually recommends blepharoplasty, a surgical procedure, instead.

So if you’re interested in managing dark circles under your eyes, the first step is to talk to a board-certified dermatologist to diagnose what’s actually causing the issue. And, remember, it may be due to a combination of factors, like hyperpigmentation coupled with anatomy and lifestyle factors (like not getting enough sleep). In those cases, your dermatologist may recommend a combination of treatments, which could include filler.

What is it actually like to get undereye fillers?

Before you have the procedure done, you’ll have a consultation with your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Gonzalez says. That will give them a chance to really figure out what’s causing your dark circles and whether or not you’re a good candidate for fillers.

Then you’ll come back for the procedure. For the most part, people don’t get any numbing agents for this procedure, Dr. Gonzalez says, but you totally can ask for them if you want! Just know that doing so will mean that you’ll have to wait 30 to 40 minutes for the numbing to set in, delaying your appointment a little bit. Without the numbing agent, the appointment can be done in just 15 minutes or so.

When it comes to the injection, there are two different approaches: Some prefer to use the tiny needles that come with the fillers, while an increasing number of dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons are opting to use a cannula. Using the needle on its own is the classic approach, Dr. Hu explains, and the cannula acts like a dull straw, allowing the needle to pass through, therefore only requiring one poke. Some argue that this allows for more precise placement with less swelling and bruising, but the most important factor when getting undereye fillers is to go to an experienced medical professional who understands the intricate anatomy around your eye.

After the procedure, you’ll start to notice results right away. “You’re going to see results instantly,” Dr. Gonzalez says, “and then they only get better over the next two weeks.”

What kind of side effects are associated with undereye fillers?

First and foremost, know that the area under your eyes is incredibly delicate and full of blood vessels, Dr. Gonzalez says. That thin skin makes this area especially prone to bruising, one of the most common side effects of the procedure. (To reduce bruising, your dermatologist may recommend that you avoid certain medications and supplements, like NSAIDs and fish oil pills, before your procedure.) The other most common side effect is swelling, Dr. Gonzalez says. Both of those issues should resolve within a week.

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