How to Fix Tired-Looking Eyes

Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatments to Correct Tired-Looking Eyes

Genetics, ageing, sun damage, dehydration, and more can all cause bags under your eyes, puffy eyelids, and dark circles under your eyes. Those can give the impression that you’re exhausted or haven’t slept well even though you feel well-rested. Several natural remedies that you can try at home could help you reduce puffiness and make your eyes look less tired. You can also consult a plastic surgeon about your surgical and non-surgical options for fixing tired-looking eyes.

Dr Michael Kernohan is a specialist plastic surgeon in Sydney, Australia offering a range of surgical and non-surgical facial treatments.

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What Causes Tired-Looking Eyes?

Puffy eyelids, under-eye bags, and dark circles under the eyes are the tell-tale signs of tired eyes.   

You can immediately tell if someone’s been crying, exhausted, or up all night by looking at their eyes. However, lack of sleep and fatigue aren’t the only reasons why your eyes may look weary. 

There are several reasons for sleepy and tired eyes that have nothing to do with sleep.    

1.    Genetics

Some people have a genetic predisposition to fat build-up in their eyelids. The excess fat can cause bags under the eyes, which make the eyes look puffy and exhausted. 

Others are born with saggy upper eyelids that make the eyes look hooded and lazy.

Moreover, medical studies have shown that dark circles under the eyes may run in the family.

Another reason why your eyes look tired is a tear trough deformity. Tear trough deformity is a deep indentation between the eye and the nose that creates the illusion that the eyes are sunken and hollow. Some people are born with deep tear troughs, while others develop them as they grow older. 

2.    Ageing

The skin around your eyes is one of the thinnest in your body. As you age, your skin stretches and loses elasticity. The muscles supporting your eyelids also begin to thin and weaken.

That causes the appearance of saggy, loose skin around the eyelids, which makes the eyes look baggy and old.  

Dark circles can also appear under your eyes as you grow older. With age, your skin stretches and thins out, and the blood vessels under it become more visible. That creates a darker under-eye appearance. 

In some cases, dark circles under the eyes are caused by loss of volume. That happens as the fat pads in the lower eyelid shift downward with age. The volume loss creates a shadow that makes the under eyes appear darker than they actually are.

3.    Sun damage

Too much sun exposure triggers your body to excessively produce melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its colour. 

That can result in hyperpigmentation (dark skin patches) under the eyes.

4.    Dehydration

It’s widely known that staying hydrated is the key to healthier skin. 

The skin around your eyes can start to look dull if you don’t drink enough water.

5.    Water retention

Salty foods, some medications, and certain diseases can lead to water retention, which causes swelling and puffiness in different body parts, including the eyes.  

6.    Allergies

Allergies cause your body to release chemicals called histamines. These chemicals can cause your eyes to swell up and look puffy.

7.    Smoking

Cigarettes and other tobacco products damage your skin and speed up the ageing process. 

8.    Underlying medical conditions

Various medical conditions can cause droopy eyelids or bags under the eyes. These include renal disease, thyroid eye disease, diabetes, Myasthenia Gravis, and eye infections.

Although tired-looking eyes aren’t typically a cause for concern, they can be unattractive and give the impression that you constantly feel tired. 

How Do I Make My Eyes Look Less Tired?

Natural remedies for tired eyes

There are several things you can do at home to make your eyes less puffy naturally. Home remedies for tired-looking eyes can include:

  • Tea bags: Teas have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain caffeine, which increases blood circulation. Some herbal teas, such as chamomile, also contain essential oils that can soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. Steep tea bags in hot water, then let them cool down in the refrigerator. Apply the cold tea bags to your eyelids for several minutes. That can help make your eyes look less puffy and saggy.
  • Cucumber slices over your eyes: Cucumbers have anti-inflammatory properties and can help you naturally reduce swelling in your eyes. You can also chill the cucumbers in the fridge before using them. The cooling effect will tighten the skin around your eyes and make you look refreshed. 
  • Cold compresses: Apply iced water or cold spoons to your eyes to help decrease swelling and reduce the appearance of dark circles.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can keep your skin looking healthy
  • Avoid salty foods: Cut back on foods rich in table salt (a major source of sodium) to prevent water retention, which makes your eyes look swollen and weary.
  • Quit smoking: People who quit smoking notice an improvement in their skin tone, elasticity, and quality.

These simple measurements can help you reduce tired eyes almost instantly. Nonetheless, their effects are limited and temporary.

If you can’t get rid of tired-looking eyes naturally, several medical treatments can offer you a more effective and permanent solution. 

Non-surgical treatments for tired eyes

You can improve the appearance of your eyes without surgery using the following treatment options:

·       Eye creams

Several eye creams can help reduce dark circles, puffiness, and bags under the eyes.

Topical under-eye serums, such as Melalumin, are effective in lightening dark circles under the eyes.

Studies also show that eye creams that contain Low Molecular Weight Heparan Sulfate Glycosaminoglycans (LMW‐HS) can effectively rejuvenate the skin and reduce eye puffiness and dark circles.   

·       Chemical peels

Skin resurfacing with a chemical peel is an effective and popular option.

·       Laser therapy

Laser skin resurfacing therapy can improve sun-damaged skin and reduce wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes.

·    PRP injections

You can receive platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections in your lower eyelid regions. These injections can repair and strengthen the skin around your eyes.

·       Under Eye fillers

Injectable fillers with hyaluronic acid (HA), can help revive tired-looking eyes.

They effectively correct tear troughs and fill up facial areas that have lost volume, which is one of the main reasons behind tired eyes and dark under-eye circles. 

·       Ultherapy

That is an ultrasound-based therapy. An Ultherapy treatment involves using focused ultrasound to lift and tighten skin on the neck, chin, and brow. The ultrasound energy stimulates the production of new collagen deep within the skin and can effectively treat skin laxity around the eyes. 

·       Muscle relaxant injections brow lift

These injections relax the muscles surrounding your eyes. That allows your brow to rise and removes some of the weight over your eyelids.

As a result, you’ll be able to open your eyes more widely.

Surgical treatment for tired eyes

Although non-surgical treatments are effective in fixing a tired-looking face, they only give short-term results.  

Different cosmetic procedures can offer a more permanent way to get rid of tired-looking eyes.

Under eye fat transfer

Your body’s fat acts as a natural filler. Under-eye fat transfer is a cosmetic procedure that uses your body’s own fat to fill in sunken and hollow areas under your eyes.

Your surgeon can use liposuction to remove fat from your belly, thighs, or hips. The fat is purified and injected into the skin below your lower eyelids.

After this procedure, your eyes will appear less tired. It’s worth noting that, with time, your body will reabsorb some of the transferred fat, which causes a decrease in volume again. 

Eyelid surgery or Blepharoplasty

Blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery, is a cosmetic procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the upper eyelids, lower eyelids, or both. It’s one of the most effective and permanent ways to correct tired eyes.


During an upper eyelid lift:

  • First, your surgeon makes an incision along the natural crease of your upper eyelid
  • Then, excess fat and skin are cut out, and the muscle controlling your upper eyelid is tightened
  • Finally, the incision is closed using delicate sutures

During a lower eyelid surgery:

  • First, your surgeon makes an incision just below your lower lash line
  • Then, excess skin and fat are removed
  • Finally, the incision is closed using atraumatic suturing techniques that reduce the appearance of a scar

Brow lift surgery

A brow lift, also known as a forehead lift or upper facelift, is a cosmetic procedure that raises the skin and soft tissue of the forehead and brow.

You can get a forehead lift if you have low, sagging brows weighing down on your upper eyelids and giving your eyes a sleepy or puffy appearance.

Depending on the extent of lift you need, your surgeon will make one of three incisions:

  • One long incision along your hairline extending from ear to ear (coronal brow lift)
  • Two shorter incisions along your hairline, one above each temple (limited-incision/temporal brow lift)
  • Very small incisions behind the hairline (endoscopic brow lift)

A brow lift surgery lifts the eyebrows and rejuvenates the forehead. 

Dr Michael Kernohan will thoroughly examine your face and offer you the optimal surgical or non-surgical treatment for your tired-looking eyes.

FAQs about Surgical and Non-surgical Solutions to Fix Tired Eyes

How long do under-eye fillers last?

  • Under-eye fillers are injectable substances that contain Hyaluronic acid. They get rid of bags and dark circles under the eyes by replacing lost volume in that area. The results from your under-eye filler treatment can last anywhere between 9 months to one year. 

What causes dark circles under the eyes in adults?

  • Dark circles under the eyes are usually caused by fatigue. However, in some cases, what looks like a dark circle can be a shadow cast by puffy lower eyelids or hollowness under the eyes.

Do I need surgery or dermal fillers to treat my under-eye bags?

  • It depends on what’s causing your under-eye bags. When the skin of the lower eyelids stretches and accumulates fat behind it, this causes the appearance of under-eye bags. In this case, a lower lid blepharoplasty removes the excess skin and fat and is your best option to get rid of the bags under your eyes. However, if you have a deep tear trough and volume loss in your face causing your under eyes to look sunken and dull, dermal fillers can restore the lost volume and fill the hollow areas. If the bags under your eyes aren’t very big, dermal filler injections can help smooth the transition between your lower eyelid and your cheeks and make the bags under your eyes look less obvious. 

What procedure helps tired eyes?

  • Blepharoplasty is one of the best cosmetic procedures that can make your eyes and entire face look less tired. This procedure can address your upper eyelid area, lower eyelid area, or both. It removes extra unwanted skin and fat around the eyes.

Where are muscle-relaxing substances injected for a brow lift?

  • For a brow lift, the substance is injected between your eyebrows (in the procerus muscle) and at the end of each eyebrow (orbicularis oculi muscle). These injection sites are the muscles that pull the eyebrows down. The substance relaxes these muscles, which allows the eyebrows to rise and the eyes to open more widely.

Further Reading

Medical References