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All Eyes On Treatments

Contact Author Terri Wojak, True U
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The eyes are the first area people are drawn to when looking at one another. They are the focal points of beauty on the face. Unfortunately, they are also the area to show the first signs of aging due to the delicate skin. There are several treatments available that can be focused solely to the skin around the eyes, giving them a more youthful, rejuvenated appearance. This article will go through common treatments for the eye area from medical to home care.

Medical Treatments

Microneedling. Microneedling is a procedure commonly done in esthetic medical settings. A medical provider uses an automated device or a roller with several fine needles to create micro-channels in the skin. The micro-channels create minor injuries in the skin that trigger a wound response, causing it to repair itself. This treatment is especially helpful for crow’s feet, as it stimulates collagen growth reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Neurotoxins. Neurotoxins or neuromodulators work by stopping muscle contraction in specific areas of the face. For the eye area, it is most commonly used to reduce the deep furrows between the brows (the “11s”), as well as softening the appearance of crow’s feet. They can also be used in specific points of the Orbicularis oculi muscle surrounding the eye to give the eyes a more open, inviting appearance. Neurotoxins are popular due to the dramatic effects they have on the appearance quickly. It typically takes about five days to work and lasts about three months

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Fillers. Loss of subcutaneous fat is a major side effect of aging skin, which like everything else is even more apparent in the eye area. This loss of volume in the eye area, especially underneath, not only makes the skin look more mature but can give the illusion of dark circles. The best way to combat this is to replace volume in the area where it once was with facial fillers. Most facial fillers are made up of hyaluronic acid, which we have naturally occurring in our skin. This makes the result look soft and natural. The provider must be careful to not use too much filler, as hyaluronic acid draws water to itself to cause the under eyes to look swollen.

PRP. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a treatment that rejuvenates the skin with the patient’s own blood. It has become popular due to the term “vampire facial.” The procedure is simple and often gives an immediate benefit, although there is continual improvement since it stimulates growth factors increasing collagen production. During the procedure, the medical provider draws the patient’s blood and spins it in a centrifuge to separate the platelet rich portion that is then injected into areas of concern. It is now being utilized under the eyes, similar to filler, to reduce the signs of aging.

Radio frequency. Radio frequency is a treatment that tightens and rejuvenates the skin. Since the thin skin around the eyes is prone to laxity, radio frequency is a great option. It uses radio waves to heat the dermis to 41-43° C, which seems to be the magic temperature for stimulating collagen production. The skin typically appears tighter right away, and collagen continues to build in the area for up to a year depending on the aggressiveness of the treatment.

Micro-focused ultrasound. Like radio frequency, ultrasound stimulates the deeper layers of skin to tighten and trigger collagen production. This modality uses sound waves that are focused deep in the skin where the fibroblasts, cells that produce collagen and elastin, are abundant. This treatment also heats up the skin, which may cause some discomfort, but users say that the results are worth it.

Resurfacing lasers. Laser treatments are a staple when it comes to anti-aging procedures. Resurfacing lasers, those attracted to water, can be specifically done for the eye area with the use of intraocular eye shields. The lasers create a wound response in the skin, triggering the body to remove damaged proteins and make new healthy proteins. The results can be significant if the patient cares for the skin diligently by applying topical occlusive agents and protecting the skin form the sun.

Esthetic Treatments

Microcurrent. Microcurrent delivers electrical energy to specific points designed to retrain the muscles. This is especially helpful in the eye area, as it loses tone more rapidly than other areas of the face. Performing microcurrent around the eyes can be an adjunct to any facial, as it typically gives an immediate lift for a great option before a big event. It is important to note, however, that long-term results are cumulative and may take several treatments.

LED. LED utilizes photo-therapy to revitalize the skin. Light energy at varying wavelengths can help to stimulate circulation, reduce inflammation and trigger collagen production. LED also works to energize cells, making the skin work at full capacity. Although you do not put the light directly over the eyes, which are covered with small goggles, it works well in softening the fine lines and wrinkles surrounding the eye, especially crow’s feet.

Chemical peels. Chemical peels are great treatments for the eye area, as they exfoliate dead skin cells and stimulate the production of new, healthy cells. The peel should not be applied within the infraorbital rim by estheticians, but the acid will travel slightly which is all that is needed due to the thinner skin in the area. Medical professionals may apply certain acids to the entire under-eye area, making the peel much more aggressive. The patient has to be diligent about caring for the skin following a deeper procedure.

Enzymes. Exfoliating with enzymes can be a gentler approach to removing dead skin from around the eye than a traditional chemical peel. Enzyme peels can stimulate cell turnover and give the eye a brighter, smoother appearance. There is also the added benefit of better product penetration and absorption.

Hydra-dermabrasion. This procedure utilizes a diamond-tip along with suction and a liquid serum. There are several different devices available on the market that utilize a variety of infusions containing beneficial ingredients. Hydra-dermabrasion treatments remove dead skin cells while immediately infusing hydration into the skin for a smooth and plump appearance around the eyes with no downtime.

Lymphatic drainage massage. Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a specific massage technique intended to improve the circulation of lymph throughout the body. A popular use for this technique is to reduce puffiness in the face or eye area, as this can be caused from buildup of lymph fluid. The lack of circulation around the eyes can cause more swelling than other areas of the face. A specialized eye treatment using MLD can be an add-on for many procedures.

Home Care

Sun protection. Home-care products are of the utmost importance when it comes to keeping the eye area looking healthy and youthful. The best way to stop age-related skin conditions, such as fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. First and foremost is protecting against future damage, which is where protective sunglasses and broad-spectrum sunscreens come in. There are not many eye products available that contain sunscreen. Due to the higher chance of sensitivities in this area, ingredients must be chosen carefully. A simple formula containing zinc oxide tends to be the best option, as chemical sunscreens are known for their potential skin irritation.

Moisturizers. It is also important to keep the skin surrounding the eyes moisturized since it has fewer sebaceous glands. The decrease in oil production can lead to dryness and dehydration, creating fine lines. Moisturizers not only attract and hold moisture, but commonly have other beneficial ingredients to enhance the eye area.

Antioxidants. Antioxidants are a must when it comes to eye care as they fight off harmful free radicals that can damage proteins in the delicate eye area.

Peptides. Peptides are a great ingredient for the eye area due to the low chance of irritation and their ability to trigger collagen production.

Vasoconstriction. Products containing vitamin K or arnica can reduce the appearance of dark circles caused by vascularity.

Skin lighteners. Skin lighteners such as kojic acid and licorice root can also be incorporated to reduce dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation.

Cosmetic needling. Cosmetic needling can be done by the client at home using a stamp or a roller with fine needles. Cosmetic needling is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration up to 0.3mm and should not be confused with medical microneedling, mentioned above. The client can target the fine lines around the eyes. Cosmetic needling is similar to aerating a lawn before applying fertilizer. The small needles are making pathways for products to penetrate more effectively into the skin.

Stress The Importance

Caring for the eyes is as important as caring for the skin on the rest of the face. The lack of circulation, thinner skin and decrease in oil production leave them open for more visible signs of aging. Combination treatments including medical, esthetic and home care are the best option to keep the eyes looking their best.

Terri A. Wojak, a licensed esthetician of 20 years, is an authority on skin care in a medical setting, education and business. She is director and educator at True U Esthetics, co-author of Mastering Medical Esthetics and author of Aesthetics Exposed: Mastering Skin Care In A Medical Setting and Beyond. She is also a member of the Skin Inc. Editorial Advisory Board.

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