When a patient is unhappy about bulging under-eye bags, it’s common for a doctor to recommend a lower-lid blepharoplasty that involves the redistribution of fat. However, a new anatomical finding by University of California researchers may change how surgeons approach this common complaint.
For years, regardless of a lack of evidence, the medical community has believed that aging-induced under-eye bags are a result of the orbital septum, which holds eye-area fat in place, weakening and leading to a “herniation of fat”; and the surgical solution has fit accordingly, with the repositioning of fat or tightening of eye-area muscles. But looking at 40 subjects between 12 and 80 years old, researchers now see that this may not be the most effective strategy because it’s based on a misconception of how our faces age.
“Our study showed there is actually an increase in fat with age, and it is more likely that the fat increase causes the baggy eyelids rather than a weakened ligament,” said Dr. Sean Darcy, author of this first-of-its-kind study, which used MRIs to identify the increased under-eye tissue.
With further tests, the researchers expect doctors to look at and perform lower-lid rejuvenation in a different way.
“Our findings may change the way some plastic surgeons treat baggy eyes,” said co-author Dr. Timothy Miller. “Our study showed that a component of a patient’s blepharoplasty procedure should almost routinely involve fat excision.”
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