Dermatochalasis is a common condition marked by loosening eyelid skin, which can make it seem as if you have “extra” skin on your eyelids. It typically isn’t a cause for concern, but if it causes vision problems, treatment can help.
A lot of people have a little extra eyelid skin, also known as dermatochalasis. Technically, you don’t actually have extra skin. Rather, the skin you’ve always had becomes lax, to the point where your eyes may appear hooded.
This loose skin often worsens with age due to gravity, decreasing skin elasticity, and the weakening of the connective tissues in your skin.
This condition most commonly affects your upper eyelids, but you may also notice dermatochalasis on your lower eyelids.
For instance, you may have:
Read on to learn what causes sagging eyelids and get details about treating this condition.
Most of the time, the symptoms and effects remain cosmetic. You may notice eyelid puffiness, wrinkles, dark circles, or skin sagging, for instance.
But occasionally, loose eyelid skin and sagging eyelids may also contribute to eye irritation, redness, and issues with your vision.
For example, you may have trouble seeing if your eyelid droops over your eyeball. This condition, called mechanical ptosis, can obstruct your vision. Glasses or contacts won’t help correct mechanical ptosis, so an eye doctor or specialist may recommend surgery.
People of any age can experience dermatochalasis, but middle-aged and older adults are more likely to develop this issue.
It commonly happens as part of the natural process of skin aging, due to weakening connective tissue and elasticity in the skin. Simply put, gravity pulls less-elastic skin downward, which can cause your lids to sag.
A common condition called ptosis can also affect the appearance of eyelid skin, as ptosis weakens the muscle that opens and closes your eyelids. Factors that may lead to this condition include:
- the natural process of aging
- eyelid surgery
- various neurologic conditions
- genetic factors
- frequently rubbing your eyes
Certain underlying health conditions may also lead to dermatochalasis, including:
- thyroid eye disease, also called Graves’ ophthalmopathy
- cutis laxa, which refers to a group of rare connective tissue diseases
- trauma or injury to your eyelids
- Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, which affect collagen function
- amyloidosis, a rare condition that involves buildup of the protein amyloid in various body organs
- angioneurotic edema, a rare condition marked by episodes of swelling throughout your body
- xanthelasma, which involves flat, yellowish plaques underneath eyelid skin
Eyelid sagging doesn’t necessarily mean a cause for concern, so it may not always require treatment. That said, if you’d like to address the appearance of extra eyelid skin for cosmetic reasons, you definitely have that option.
On the other hand, loose eyelid skin that causes vision problems may require professional treatment. Your insurance may cover all or part of the procedure if you have a functional issue due to extra eyelid skin.
Your care team will want to determine the exact cause of baggy eyelid skin before making a treatment recommendation. In some cases, simply removing the excess skin may make the issue worse.
A functional issue, in basic terms, means you have difficulty with day-to-day tasks, like:
- using a computer
- working or driving
Removing the excess skin obstructing your vision may go a long way toward improving your vision and quality of life.
If you choose to treat extra eyelid skin, your care team may recommend one of the following treatments:
- Blepharoplasty: This surgery involves removing excess skin, muscle, and, sometimes, fat from the eyelid. You can typically go home the same day of your surgery. Temporary side effects generally include some eye puffiness, swelling, pain, and sensitivity to light.
- Injections: Botox injections may help tighten sagging skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles temporarily. It relaxes your brow muscles, which may help lift them from a furrowed appearance and leave skin with a tighter, firmer appearance. You’ll need to repeat injections every few months or so to maintain these results.
- Fillers: Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers like Juvederm add extra volume to the lids. They’re typically only used on lower lids to help fill in the hollowness that can develop under your eyes. These fillers can reduce the appearance of dark circles, but they won’t do much for upper eye issues. You’ll need to repeat them every several months to maintain your results.
- Fat removal or repositioning: This surgery involves removing or redistributing fat to help diminish the appearance of bags and tighten up eyelid skin. That said, removing excess fat may, in some cases, contribute to deeper under-eye bags, so it’s a good idea to discuss your options with your care team. This surgery is also more invasive than blepharoplasty and may require a longer recovery period.
Can eye exercises help?
Some people also find eyelid exercises helpful, but no evidence supports their benefits. According to the theory behind this approach, activating your eyelid muscles can strengthen weakened eye muscles and tighten up your lids in the process.
For instance, you might try an eyelid resistance workout.
Start by putting your fingers above your eyebrows. Then, push against that force and use your muscles to force them up. This creates resistance similar to strength training.
Rapidly blinking and rolling your eyes can also strengthen your eyelids, eyes, and surrounding muscles.
Trataka yogic eye exercise is another option.This exercise involves fixing your eyes on a specific object in the distance. Keep your gaze fixed for as long as possible, and you’ll feel your eye muscles working as you do.
Dermatochalasis, also known as excess eyelid skin, may develop as you age. While it’s typically a cosmetic issue, it may sometimes impair your vision and require treatment.
If you’d like to get treatment to address the extra skin on your eyelids, you have a number of options, including surgery, Botox injections, and fillers.
Your care team can help identify the cause of extra eyelid skin. They can also offer more information about your options for treatment, along with personalized guidance on those that may work for your needs.