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Your eyes the first features to show signs of ageing

Your eyes the first features to show signs of ageing

2007, Brand New YouView PDF

Blepharoplasty

Your eyes are one of the first features to show signs of ageing. Droopy eyelids, shadowy bags and wrinkles can make you look and feel much older than you are. Brand New You explores the options for keeping eyes bright and youthful ...

Crow's feet, bags and shadows around the eyes are one of the earliest and most visible signs of ageing, telling the world that we're not as young as we once were. Being the focal point of the face, the eyes play a large part in betraying our real age, and as the eyes are so important for communication, they are difficult to disguise (only A listers can get away with wearing sunglasses 24/7).

As we get older our skin becomes thinner and loses some of its elasticity as the elastin fibres start to wear out. We also start to produce less collagen under the skin: the combination of these two things makes the skin sag, causing unsightly eye bags. Exposure to too much sun and environmental damage play their part as well, as UV damage and free radicals further damage collagen fibres, leaving eyelids droopy.

The wrinkles around the eyes also become more pronounced with age. The most common cause of these crow's feet are the tiny muscles next to our eyes which contract as we change our facial expressions. So unless you plan to stop smiling, you're fighting a losing battle trying to avoid them. Even celebrities such as George Clooney and Paris Hilton are rumoured to have had 'work' done to improve the appearance of their eyes.

So, what are the wonder ingredients that can apparently lessen our lines and return us to youthful smoothness? They tend to contain a product that relaxes muscles or an ingredient such as retinol, a vitamin A derivative that is clinically proven to improve the quality of the skin. As with stretch marks, Alpha Hydroxy Acids have also been proven to help stimulate collagen and elastin production. While these products can slightly improve the appearance of the eyes, they cannot undo damage or reverse the signs of ageing.

The limited results offered by these lotions and potions means it is becoming increasingly common for women to seek the advice of a specialist as they get older.

There are many different approaches that may be suggested by practitioners to restore youthfulness to the eyes. These depend on the depth and extent of wrinkles, whether you have protruding bags or hollows underneath your eyes, your skin type, age, and your expectations. For mild to moderate depth lines and wrinkles, there are a number of very effective nonsurgical options that may be recommended. The feature of most of these is that they are generally quick, safe and effective ways of improving wrinkles around the eye.

The most common non-invasive treatment for the eyes is fillers. Botox is currently the number one cosmetic treatment used for dynamic (movement associated) smile lines around the eyes. This treatment works by relaxing the muscles that cause the skin to crease and develop crew's feet. The result is so subtle yet effective that celebrities such as Kylie, Madonna and Liz Hurley are rumoured to have had it done.

Dermal fillers such as Restylane are another alternative that offer an immediate improvement in the depth and severity of lines around the eyes. Wrinkles in the skin are literally 'filled' using this quick and simple non-surgical procedure. These products can also be used by some skilled practitioners to reduce the appearance of hollows beneath the eyes.

Autologous Cell Therapies are another non-invasive option to perk up the eyes. This process uses your own cells to repair and rejuvenate the skin, correcting lines and wrinkles, such as crow's feet. This procedure involves injecting collagen producing cells to the eye area which will continue to stimulate collagen production over many years. Results can last up to 10 years but expect to pay around £3,000 per treatment.

For a real long-term solution, eyelid surgery on the upper or lower eyelids (also known as a blepharoplasty) gives the most pronounced and permanent result. This procedure can help restore a more youthful appearance by tightening droopy or hooded eyelids, restoring the smooth line of the eyelids, and removing fatty pouches beneath the eyes.

"Heavily hooded upper lids, creases, wrinkles and under eye bags can add years to a face. As a plastic surgeon , I find blepharoplasty most gratifying as the effects can freshen the face to a huge degree," says surgeon Angelica Kavouni.

Blepharoplasty is usually performed under a local anaesthetic. Upper eyelid surgery involves cutting along the eyelid crease, with either a scalpel or a laser, in the natural skin fold of the eyelid. Excess skin, a thin strip of muscle and unwanted fatty tissue is removed to give the eyelid crease more shape. The cut is then closed with stitches, hiding the scar inside the natural fold of the upper eyelid.

Lower eyelid blepharoplasty is commonly performed with an incision just below the lower lashes. The surgeon lifts the skin and muscle, removes a small amount of fat then trims the excess skin from the lower lid.

Alternatively, transconjunctival blepharoplasty removes the pocket of fat beneath your lower eyelids to get rid of eye bags, and the new Sub Orbicularis Oculi Fat lift puts fat back underneath the eye to remove hollows. It's important to get the balance right: "Avoid excess fat removal as it can leave the eyes looking hollow which is not a good result," advises Kavouni.

The downside is that a blepharoplasty cannot remove dark circles under the eyes, smooth wrinkles around the eye or lift sagging eyebrows. As such, blepharoplasties are sometimes performed alongside other procedures to produce a better result.

"Blepharoplasty removes excess skin and bags to give the eyes a fresher look but will not remove the wrinkles or laughter lines from the sides of the eyes," says Angelica Kavouni. "These may be improved with Botox injections or skin resurfacing. Often the hooded look is due to a low eyebrow position so a moderate brow lift can be performed in combination with the blepharoplasty."

Case study

Name: Angie Southwick
Age: 50
Treatment name: Upper blepharoplasty
Cost: £3,800

"As I approached 50, my eyes became really saggy and I felt they were making me look much older, so I decided to take action! After a consultation, I opted for an upper eyelid lift to open my eyes more, plus some Botox around the sides of my eyes to iron out the crow's feet.

The surgery was not painful but I felt mild discomfort afterwards and found it quite difficult to open my eyes for around four days. I found the recovery very quick and could immediately see the results. I was so pleased! I now look much younger and have more confidence. I still have to have the Botox re-done every year or so, but the eyelid results are permanent, which is fantastic."