Loose eyelids can make a person look tired, bored, sad, or all of those. Tightening the eyelids’ skin is one of the top priorities for those who want to look younger and more invigorated.
You can tighten the skin on your eyelids through surgical procedures like blepharoplasty. Noninvasive procedures for tightening eyelid skin include CO2 laser treatment, micro-needling, radiofrequency, and ultrasound therapy. Be sure to have a proper skincare regimen to delay further loosening of skin.
The eye area is one of the most important parts of the face. Eye shape heavily influences the way you look and how your expressions manifest on your face. For example, people who have downturned eyes may look bored all the time or tired, even when they’re not. But it’s not only eye shape in itself. The skin on your eyelids or how your eyelids look can also significantly impact your facial appearance.
Even with a great eye shape, people with sagging eyelids may give off the same vibe as people with droopy eyes. They may look tired, bored, or older than they really are. A face that doesn’t represent your emotions is a challenging thing to deal with every day. Not to mention, it can be difficult to deal with always looking exhausted and never fully awake. Since we associate looking youthful with positive qualities like vitality and energy, sagging eyelids can decrease a person’s attractiveness. In severe cases, sagging eyelids can even cause serious issues with sight.
Fortunately, there are several ways to correct sagging or drooping eyelids. Over the last few years, there have been advances in correcting sagging eyelids nonsurgically for those who may be averse to going under the knife. Plus, there’s an influx of facial creams and facial exercises. However, not all of them work as advertised, so make sure to always do your research before signing up for a quick fix solution.
What Causes the Loosening of Skin on the Eyelids?
The scientific term for sagging eyelids or the loosening of skin on the eyelids is dermatochalasis. The main culprit for the droopiness of the eyelids is age.
Whether on the upper eyelid or the lower eyelid, getting older will significantly change these areas. You probably make expressions all the time, and your eye area is a huge part of bringing those expressions to life. That means a lot of work for the skin around your eyes, eyelids included. Over time, your eyelids could suffer some wear and tear. As you get older, your skin loses its elasticity, making your skin look more wrinkled and saggy.
Plus, gravity also puts in work, pulling your skin down over the years. These changes, the sagging and the loosening of the skin, are natural as people age. There’s no escaping aging no matter how hard we try. Consequently, the tightening of loose skin on the eyelids is a problem more often found in older people, especially middle-aged women.
Even then, loose skin or sagging skin on the eyelids is not a problem reserved for middle-aged and older people alone. Some teens and children could also have drooping eyelids. Although in those cases, the causes can be varied. Some are just born with saggy eyelids. Some might have gotten it through an injury that damaged that area of their face. Others are victims of habitual mouth-breathing.
Preventing a Drooping/Sagging Eyelid
While you cannot completely prevent your eyelids from drooping, you can take steps towards caring for your skin more and postponing the loosening of your skin. The prevention aspect is more to stave off the effects for as long as possible, not eliminate the problem.
Taking proper care of your skin is the first step you can take to avoid too much eyelid sagging. The sooner you start with proper skincare, the better off you are. While skincare may not be very effective for people born with drooping eyelids, it works for those trying to avoid it as they age.
Sunscreen is, without a doubt, one of the most important things you can integrate into your skincare routine. Applying sunscreen daily, even in the winter months, will protect you from the harmful UV rays of the sun and will help your skin weather aging better. UV rays can hasten the break down of your skin, so it is important to protect yourself from these rays as much as possible.
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that you may be familiar with because it is an ingredient in many skin care products. The main purpose of retinol in skincare is to increase collagen production. Vitamin A is the first vitamin that is FDA-approved for its anti-aging properties. As a derivative of Vitamin A, retinol is one of the most effective substances available to combat aging (Zasada and Budzisz, 2019). Retinol doesn’t have to be part of your daily routine, though; you have to make sure that your routine suits your skin type.
Sleep and Diet
This is one of the biggest determinants of how well your skin looks and ages. Without adequate nutrition and recovery, your skin won’t be functioning optimally, along with all your other organs. You don’t need fancy moisturizers. You need to focus on doing the things that will get you 90% of the results. A proper lifestyle will get you the majority of your results, along with sunscreen and retinol.
For more info on optimal skincare, check out our skincare guide.
Surgeries to Improve a Sagging Eyelid
Blepharoplasty is a surgical process that lifts a sagging eyelid and helps you look more awake. According to Toyos (2017), blepharoplasty is the gold standard for lifting the eyelids as it provides the most tangible results. However, it is a surgical procedure, and the downtime is longer than nonsurgical procedures. Post-op healing usually takes about six weeks on average.
You can have eyelid surgery in both your upper or lower eyelids. Usually, the surgeon will make an incision along the eyelids’ creases (upper) or below your lash line for the lower eyelid. The surgeon will then remove excess fat, skin, or muscle as applicable. Sometimes, the surgeon will remove and relocate the fat depending on what is necessary to achieve the desired appearance.
All in all, blepharoplasty is a pretty straightforward surgery. However, there is significant downtime involved. The stitches usually last for a week on the upper eyelids, and the lower eyelids may not need stitches. It is normal to experience some swelling after the procedure and even bruising to some extent. The surgeon will provide you with specific aftercare details that you must follow.
Though blepharoplasty is quite a simple procedure, there are still some risks that you need to be aware of. The risks include infection, bleeding, and unsatisfactory results. However, some pain and blurriness of vision are normal for a time after the surgery. These effects are temporary. The patient may also experience some numbness after the procedure. To minimize the risks, make sure you are in the hands of an experienced surgeon who has a good reputation.
Blepharoplasty provides many people, especially those dealing with aging symptoms, feel more confident about themselves and look younger. It may be a minor change, but it will bring a significant change to your appearance.
Nonsurgical Procedures to Improve a Sagging Eyelid
As we age, the collagen production of our skin slowly starts to decrease. Collagen production slows down by around 1% per year by the time you reach adulthood. Certain lifestyle factors such as excessive sun exposure, smoking, the lack of proper diet, and more can expedite this process.
Consequently, many noninvasive procedures to tighten eyelid skin focus on rejuvenating the eyelid area through collagen production. You’ll notice that collagen production is a recurring theme in these solutions.
Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment
One way that skin starts to lose its elasticity over time is the natural decline of collagen production. Instead of making direct skin changes through surgical means, nonsurgical procedures such as laser treatments provide eyelid improvement through increased collagen production. However, the results you get varies depending on the extent of the change you want to achieve with your eyelids.
CO2 lasers use heat to promote collagen production and dermal remodeling. As a result, the skin will start to look better and invigorated. However, it may take around a few weeks for the results to fully show. Initially, after the procedure, there may be some darkening of the skin. There may also be swelling for a day or two after the procedure.
Toyos (2017) conducted a study on a group of women ages 34-68 to observe their eyelids’ changes after the laser procedure. His results indicated a decent improvement in several aspects: margin reflex distance, palpebral fissure height, and the upper lid crease appearance. Overall, CO2 laser treatment is still not a replacement for blepharoplasty, as Toyos herself says that traditional surgery is still the gold standard for eyelid tightening.
However, the side effects of surgery may not be for everyone. Laser treatment is a cheaper option, as well. Noninvasive procedures are currently becoming more in demand, the laser treatment option for tightening the skin on the eyelids. Note that laser treatment may not be the best for those who have extremely droopy eyelids as this could require surgery. Eyelids that impair vision may also require surgery, and a noninvasive procedure may not be sufficient.
Overall, a laser treatment to tighten the eyelids’ skin is a pretty decent way to approach the problem. Not only is it better in terms of cost, but the downtime is also significantly lower than that of a surgical procedure. Still, take caution. Even noninvasive procedures like lasers also have side effects like hyper/hypo-pigmentation and scarring.
Microneedling is another nonsurgical method that can tighten the skin around your eyelids. Similar to laser treatment, microneedling encourages the production of collagen through mechanical means. The production of collagen will then improve the skin’s condition.
However, microneedling the eyelids is a tricky process. The excess production of collagen in that area could make the upper eyelids look fuller and make the situation even worse. The extra collagen could cause the eyelids to look much fuller, and thus, even droopier or more hooded.
That isn’t to say that it won’t work, though. You just have to ensure that the expert you are consulting with and who will do the procedure on you knows what they are doing. Some might not be willing to microneedle the eyelids because it can be tricky, so not every practitioner might be up for it.
Microneedling the lower eyelids is much more manageable, and you’ll find more success in this department. However, arguably, more patients need work done on their upper eyelids than in their lower eyelids when dealing with the tightening of the skin. Likewise, many places will not perform microneedling even on your lower eyelid skin, as it is too thin.
The results take a couple of weeks to fully manifest, so you must be patient. A few days after the procedure, there might be some redness around the area, but that’s normal and is nothing to worry about. There are guidelines and proper aftercare instructions with microneedling that your practitioner will give you. Be sure to follow them for fewer complications.
Thermage uses radiofrequency to stimulate collagen production. Through the heat generated by radiofrequency, the production process for collagen starts to kick into high gear. With that, it can take a while for the skin to tighten as you are relying on your skin’s increased collagen production to tighten your sagging skin. Thermage or any other collagen inducing therapy will not give you immediate results.
Thermage is best for patients who have mild or moderate sagging on their eyelids. If you have extremely hooded eyes, you will not see much improvement from thermage, and you might need a surgical procedure. Manage your expectations when dealing with procedures like thermage because there are still limitations to what they can do. However, for the cost and the relatively short (if not nonexistent) downtime, it is worth it for some people.
The entire procedure can take up to an hour for the eyelids, and the patient can go back to their regular activities immediately. However, the patient should avoid strenuous physical activity for a day or two.
Thermage results usually appear gradually from about two months after the procedure. Skin condition will improve over the next couple of months after that. The results typically last for 1 to 2 years after the procedure. Since people have varying abilities to produce collagen and bodies work differently, results will vary.
Ultherapy utilizes ultrasound to generate heat that can stimulate collagen production. However, Ultherapy is not FDA-cleared for eyelid use. Even then, it can still improve your eyelids by lifting the brow area. Again, this solution is best for people who only have mild issues with sagging skin. Since Ultherapy is FDA-cleared for use in the brow area, it is perfectly safe for you to get treatment in that area.
It takes a few weeks to see results, and Ultherapy generally doesn’t take very long when you are only doing it on the brow area. Most patients get Ultherapy with other treatments that can improve eyelid condition.
Be careful when considering Ultherapy as an option. There are plenty of people who use counterfeit versions of the treatment, and you might risk your safety and not get the results you paid for. The Ultherapy website has a tool to help you look for a certified provider to do the job.
Do Facial Exercises Work for Tightening the Skin on the Eyelids?
Facial exercises have been around for quite a while now. Every other person seems to know a facial exercise or two to help with some random facial issue. Up to today, it’s been gaining a lot of traction online, and there is plenty of content made specifically on the topic. In many cases, people think of facial exercises as a legitimate solution for tightening their skin or dealing with sagging. However, facial exercises don’t have scientific evidence for their use.
Most of the proof available of facial exercises working is either anecdotal or an indication that facial exercises might work. Still, there are already a couple of studies published about facial exercises, such as this one by Alam et al. (2018). In their study, the group found out that facial exercises helped middle-aged women deal with aging symptoms. Doing a facial exercise regimen improved their skin and made them look more rejuvenated.
Despite the promising results, the study had many limitations, such as the lack of a control group. Still, it could mean that facial exercises do have a valid application in dealing with aging symptoms.
If we look at facial exercises’ objective, it doesn’t make a lot of sense immediately. The more you move around the muscles in your face, the more likely you are to form wrinkles in the part where you used your facial muscles frequently. This is why many women who fear wrinkles try not to be so expressive with their faces. So it can be difficult to imagine why facial exercises would help with aging symptoms.
As of this moment, there is no facial exercise that is proven to help tighten skin on the eyelids. Sure, there are plenty of articles and videos saying that you can, but we can’t say for sure. If you are going to try facial exercises, make sure to do them safely. People reported some anomalies with their facial exercises, such as saying that their facial exercises caused their loose skin on their eyelids to get even worse.
Do Facial Creams Work for Tightening the Skin on the Eyelids?
To some degree, facial creams do work for tightening the skin. Depending on the ingredients used, different creams may have different effects. Many older people are unwilling to do expensive procedures and resort to creams or topically applied solutions to their sagging eyelid skin.
Colvan et al. (2019) conducted a study on creams that had Low Molecular Weight Heparan Sulfate (LMW-HS) on 15 participants. They measured the extent of the cream’s ability to tighten eyelid skin. The participants applied the eye cream twice a day for 12 weeks. Colvin et al. found that the participants had some improvement as early as two weeks into the experiment.
The bottom line is that you can improve your skin by using facial creams, depending on the ingredients used. Common ingredients in anti-aging creams are retinoids (like retinol) and hyaluronic acid. Even then, facial creams are not a substitute for surgery or even non-invasive procedures like laser therapy.