Dark eye circles are a huge concern to a lot of people. That is true for both students and working professionals. They are not much of a health problem but its appearance can be quite bothersome.
Dark eye circles can make you look tired and unmotivated. On top of that, they do not go away easily. That can be a huge problem if your job requires you to meet with clients.
Although most people think that lack of sleep is the main cause of dark circles, there are actually many more determining factors. Those factors are important in determining the most effective way to treat them.
I wrote this article to help you with your research. Read on to find out more!
Definition of Dark Eye Circles
Dark eye circles refer to the relative darkness of the skin below your eyes . It is not a medical concern, but it has proven to be a great cosmetic concern to a lot of people. Most people say that the condition is caused by lack of sleep, but research shows that there are multiple other factors.
It is important to note that they are different from eyebags. Eyebags are caused by fat or fluid build-up, leading to swelling . Eyebags can co-exist with dark eye circles and worsen its appearance.
Causes of dark eye circles
Skin ageing causes several changes such as:
- Thinner skin
- Loss of collagen and elastin
- Loss of fat
- Increased chances of pigmentation
which affect our overall appearance. This is more so in the areas around our eyes .
The skin around our eyes is in itself very thin compared to the rest of the body. This causes dark blood vessels to be more visible . Loss of collagen and fat under the skin also causes the area to look hollow and shadowy. Combined with skin sagging, people end up looking fatigued .
2. Sun Exposure
Direct contact with UV light from the sun causes our body to produce more melanin (skin colour pigment) . Due to our skin type, Singaporean and South-East Asians are more likely to develop pigmentation in the under-eye area. As a matter of fact, the skin around our eyes tends to produce more melanin than the rest of the body.
Lack of sleep disrupts blood circulation and oxygen flow to the skin causing the skin to look dull. This creates a shadow that accentuates the dark eye circles.
Unhealthy sleep patterns may also accelerate skin ageing 
Histamines are released as a response to allergies. They dilate blood vessels and increase the gaps between cells at the vessel walls to allow white blood cells to pass through. Along with that, however, fluid may leak and build-up. This affects blood circulation causing the blood vessels to be more visible .
People with darker or olive-toned skin have higher chances of getting dark eye circles. This is because they tend to have a higher concentration of melanin .
People who inherited thinner skin is also more prone to the condition due to the increased visibility of blood vessels.
Smoking slows down collagen formation, causing the skin to age prematurely . This causes the tissue below your eyes to break down and appear hollow. Dark eye circles thus appear as the area becomes shadowy.
Dark eye circles treatment options in Singapore
You can probably find many different options for dark eye circles treatment online. I understand that it can be confusing.
You might also be thinking that there is a magical cream to treat dark eye circles. I have met a lot of patients asking for "the best eye cream for dark circles".
Before anything, it is important to get a good assessment of your condition. Your treatment(s) should be customised accordingly to effectively target the cause.
There are other various treatment options to remove dark eye circles. They can be classified into two types: surgical or non-surgical.
Surgical treatments do not always mean better results. Against common beliefs, the results might also not be permanent.
In the case of dark eye circles treatment, they actually come with quite a few problems:
- Hefty price tag
- Longer downtime
- Higher chances of complications
For that reason, I usually recommend non-surgical treatments. This might differ between patients so do check with your doctor! Some common treatments include:
Dermal fillers are gels commonly used in facial contouring to fill in folds and tissue loss . The treatment is minimally invasive, fast, and require no downtime.
For dark eye circles, I use fillers to fill in the hollow space below the eye. I usually combine this with Ultherapy to both tighten and lift the skin. Ultimately, this will help patients decrease dark eye circles and get a more youthful look.
As the skin around the eye is very thin, not all fillers can be used. Do consult an experienced doctor to get the best results. A few common brands:
- Juvederm Volbella
- Juvederm Volift
- Restylane Vital
- Belotero Balance
- Belotero Soft
Also read: Fillers Lift Vs Threadlift
In recent years, Rejuran I have also been a popular choice to treat dark eye circles. The biostimulator is injected directly under the skin. This stimulates collagen production and reduces wrinkles. On top of that, it also improves skin elasticity and thickness.
2. Skin tightening
Dark circles can be caused by ageing. Loss of collagen causes the skin around the eyes and cheeks to sag , making a person appear fatigued.
Ultherapy is a popular choice because they are non-invasive. They are also beneficial as they require no downtime at all. The treatment uses ultrasound energy to increase skin thickness and tightness. On top of that, they also improve collagen production.
It does so by targeting the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system) layer. This is the layer between the skin and muscle that controls how strong muscles contract. The treatment tightens your skin by increasing the muscles' holding power .
With that, the treatment allows doctors to address two concerns:
- Loose and thin skin around the eyes
- Hollow looking eyes due to sagging cheeks
There are other skin tightening devices such as Infini and Endymed. They target different skin layers with different technologies. The different skin tightening methods can be used together to give a more natural effect.
That said, I would still recommend Ultherapy for dark eye circles. This is because they can also potentially reduce herniated fats that cause eye bags.
There are different types of lasers, all with different wavelengths. They can be used to treat various skin conditions, depending on their type.
Some common usage of lasers includes acne scar and tattoo removal. They are preferred as they are non-invasive and require very minimal downtime.
On top of that, lasers are also commonly used to tackle changes due to ageing. This includes face-lifts and treatments for hyperpigmentation .
It is important to note that not all lasers are suitable for the under-eye area. Consult your doctor to find out which one is suitable for you.
Also read: Guide Laser And Skin Treatments In Singapore
Pigment lasers such as PicoPlus target melanin pigments that darken the skin.
The laser works by breaking down pigments into smaller molecules. This allows them to be cleared up by the body’s immune system. On top of that, this treatment also tightens the skin and promote collagen production.
Also read: A Complete Guide To Pico Laser In Singapore
Costs for dark eye circles treatments in Singapore
As previously mentioned, there are various treatments. You might also need to get a combination of both to achieve the best results.
I have listed down a general guide to help you plan and consider the treatments to take. Do note that these costs are affected by the clinic, doctor fees, and the severity of your condition.
|Dermal Fillers||$700 - $900/syringe|
|Laser Treatment||$250 - $340/session|
Do I need to get multiple sessions to remove dark eye circles?
This really depends on your condition. Do consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis before starting any treatment.
You can usually see the final results of an Ultherapy treatment 2-3 months after the session. This generally lasts for about a year. That said, you can repeat the treatment every 9 months to maintain the results.
For fillers, it will depend on its type. Most HA dermal fillers can last up to 1 year. On the other hand, Juvederm fillers can last up to 18 months. Some other non-HA, collagen stimulating fillers can last even longer. You can check with your doctor to see which one is the most suitable!
As for lasers, people may need 1 – 6 sessions to see any results. This highly depends on your condition and expectations.
With all these variables, it is really important that you consult an experienced doctor that can recommend the best course of treatment.
Which dark eye circles treatment is suitable for me?
Again, this depends on your condition and expectations. You should share with your doctor what you expect to see after the treatments.
For people that need a quick fix, I would recommend a dermal filler or thread lift. They require no downtime and its results can be seen almost right after the treatment.
For those who want to decrease fine lines, remove wrinkles, and get an overall more youthful skin, I would usually recommend Ultheraphy and laser treatments. You may require a few sessions to see the final result but these treatments may improve your overall appearance.
I usually recommend a combination of treatments to get the best results. This is because different treatments target different parts of the skin. For example, the ultherapy targets the SMAS layer, 4.5 mm below the skin . Dermal fillers work even deeper into the skin layer , while the laser usually works on the top layer .
Is it dangerous to combine treatment methods?
A lot of my patients ask me this when I recommend a combination of treatments.
It is true that too much treatment can be bad. However, the right combination of treatments does help produce a more natural result.
This is because of the different treatments I recommend target different causes of dark eye circles. Above that, combining treatments also prevent over-reliance on one treatment.
What should I expect to happen during a dark eye circles treatment?
All treatments start by applying numbing cream. After around 20 minutes, it is washed off and the different procedures can officially start. All these treatments take around 30 minutes.
1. Dermal Fillers
I usually use a blunt tip micro-cannula (flexible thin tube) to inject dermal fillers. This ensures that the filler is well distributed in the target area.
The blunt tip also minimizes discomfort and bruising during the treatment.
As with other ultrasounds, the doctor will apply a gel to act as a bond between the skin and transducer. The gel helps prevent air pockets that may disrupt the sound waves .
A monitor will show a live scan of the area. This allows your doctor to target the most beneficial areas.
Pulses of ultrasound energy are then delivered for short durations (25 – 50 ms). This ensures that the energy only affects the targeted areas, avoiding damage to the surrounding layers. There are 3 available treatment depths: 4.5 mm, 3.0 mm, and 1.5 mm . Your doctor may choose to target different areas, depending on your condition.
A probe is placed on the targeted areas. This probe delivers laser energy to tackle your skin concerns.
There are different types of lasers with various wavelengths. Consult your doctor to see which one is suitable for you.
How safe is a dark eye circles treatment in Singapore?
There are different types of treatments for dark eye circles. They all have different possible complications so it is always best to get to know them beforehand!
That said, all the treatments mentioned in this post are non-surgical. This means that they require very minimal downtime and are generally much safer.
The Ultherapy, PicoPlus, and fractional CO2 lasers are popular treatments used all around the world. They are also approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
All the fillers used in Singapore clinics and those mentioned in this article are also very safe. They are already approved by Singapore's Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
Regardless, you should always research and consult an experienced doctor before taking up any treatment.
What are the potential complications of dark eye circles treatment?
1. Dermal Fillers
Though rare, you might have slight bruising, swelling, and redness around the injection sites. They are all temporary and would usually clear within a week.
There might be some swelling and redness but it usually clears within a few hours. The area will also be quite tender for a few weeks but that is a sign that it is responding to the treatment.
Some patients might also experience bruising. This is very rare but it can happen if the ultrasound waves hit a blood vessel.
After the treatment, there might redness and swelling but they usually clear within a few hours. Tenderness is also quite common as it is the skin’s normal reaction. It is an indication that the skin is responding to the treatment.
What should I consider before choosing a doctor for dark eye circles treatment?
It is hard to say that a doctor is better than the other in terms of aesthetics. This is because different doctors have different views and their own set of best practices. It is important to find someone you can trust and agree with. I have listed down a few factors you might want to consider:
- Doctor’s ability and willingness to listen and provide unbiased consultation
- Pricing transparency with no hard-selling or over-emphasis on a single treatment
- Doctor’s and clinic’s credentials
- Previous works to see whether they match your expectation
I would always recommend that you find a second or even third opinion before proceeding with any treatment. Always share your expectations and discuss all the possible treatment with your doctor to achieve the best results.
Treating dark eye circles can be complicated but it is very possible. I certainly hope this article can help you with your research. Best of luck!
Dr. Sau Po Yi is an Aesthetic Doctor with Sozo Aesthetic Clinic. She joined the field of aesthetic medicine because she believes she can be a real patient advocate. She is awarded by the Singapore Medical Council with Certificates of Competence in multiple aesthetic programs.
Read more of Dr Sau Po Yi's QnA here.
Would you like to ask any related health questions?
1. Roh MR, Chung KY. Infraorbital Dark Circles: Definition, Causes, and Treatment Options. Dermatologic Surgery. 2009
2. Bags under eyes - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Accessed July 15, 2019.
3. Fenske NA, Lober CW. Structural and functional changes of normal aging skin. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 1986;15(4):571-585.
4. PAWELEK JM, CHAKRABORTY AK, OSBER MP, et al. Molecular Cascades in UV Induced Melanogenesis: A Central Role for Melanotropins? Pigment Cell Research. 1992;5(5):348-356. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0749.1992.tb00561.x
5. Krutmann J, Bouloc A, Sore G, Bernard BA, Passeron T. The skin aging exposome. Journal of Dermatological Science. 2017;85(3):152-161. doi:10.1016/j.jdermsci.2016.09.015
6. Benly P. Role of Histamine in Acute Inflammation. J Pharm Sci & Res. 2015;7(6):373-376.
7. Vashi NA, de Castro Maymone MB, Kundu RV. Aging Differences in Ethnic Skin. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology. 2016;9(1):31-38.
8. Knuutinen A, Kokkonen N, Risteli J, et al. Smoking affects collagen synthesis and extracellular matrix turnover in human skin. The British journal of dermatology. 2002;146(4):588-594.
9. Pavicic T, Funt D. Dermal fillers in aesthetics: an overview of adverse events and treatment approaches. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology.
10. Friedmann DP, Fabi SG, Goldman MP. Combination of intense pulsed light, Sculptra, and Ultherapy for treatment of the aging face. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2014;13(2):109-118.
11. Stratigos AJ, Dover JS, Arndt KA. Lasertherapie in der �sthetischen Dermatologie. Der Hautarzt. 2003;54(7):603-613.
12. Ultrasound - Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.org. Published 2018. Accessed July 16, 2019.