Fat Expansion could be the cause of baggy lower eyelids
Researchers at UCLA in America have discovered that fat expansion that takes place in the eye socket is what causes sagging eyelids as we get older. It comes after many years of speculation over what causes this side effect of the aging process.
Researchers say that removing fat from the eye should be a component of treatment for patients who want to return their eyes to a more youthful look. This would involve changes to the traditional way the surgery is carried out.
Dr Sean Darcy is a research associate in the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine: “A common treatment performed in the past and present is surgical excision of fat to treat a ‘herniation of fat’ — meaning that the amount of fat in the eye socket does not change but the cover that holds the fat in place, the orbital septum, is weakened or broken and fat slips out. This orbital septum weakening or herniation-of-fat theory is what most plastic surgeons have been taught.” The study by his team has shown that there is an increase in fat with age and it is likely that this is what causes the baggy eyelids associated with this, rather than a weakening in the ligament.
This study is the first study to look at this. It was published in the September issue of Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
To carry out the research Darcy looked at the MRIs of forty people between the ages of twelve and eighty. They found that as age increased, the size of the lower eyelid tissue also increases, which is attributed to a fat increase in the area.
The study’s co-author Dr. Timothy Miller added “Our findings may change the way some plastic surgeons treat baggy eyes. The study showed that a component of a patient’s blepharoplasty procedure should almost routinely involve fat excision rather than [the methods used currently].”
Blepharoplasty involves making an incision in the lower eyelids and correcting the tissue so that it removes crow’s feet and the effect of the eyes looking ‘hooded’ or tired. To quote Cosmetic Surgeon’s description of the treatment: “Blepharoplasty is designed to remove the excess fat, skin and atrophied muscle from the upper and lower eyelids.”
Patients who might want to undergo the treatment may have excess skin around the eyes and want it to be removed so that their eyes appear younger.