What is the Best Treatment Approach to Tear Troughs?

Written by Frank P. Fechner, MD

The tear trough deformity (a.k.a. naso-jugal fold) represents the depression underneath the under-eye puffiness. They are absent in most young people and slowly develop in the 30s or 40s. People refer to tear troughs as “dark circles” under the eyes and they are responsible for a tired and worn out look.

Fortunately, modern cosmetic medicine offers options for correcting tear troughs. 

First, we usually consider non-surgical options like injectable fillers. We prefer Restylane for this particular region for its predictability and longevity. Commonly, Restylane lasts 1 year or longer in the under eye regions.

Second, fat transfer (a.k.a. fat grafting or fat injection) is a minimal invasive option for ultra-longlasting effects. Fat is usually harvested from the abdomen or hip region through micro-liposuction. Because only about 10cc of fat is removed, no significant effect develops in the donor region. The fat is then prepared, concentrated and injected into the region of volume loss. We use the micro-droplet technique and the fat is placed deep underneeth the muscle layer. Some bruising and puffiness is always present after the fat treatment; we recommend our patients to plan on a good week of recovery. There is usually no pain.

If aging of the lower lids also warrents tightening of skin and reduction of the lower lid puffiness, advanced lower blepharoplasty may achieve the best improvment. We perform these procedures in the office under local anesthesia with a sedative. Recovery is usually determined by puffiness and bruising afterwards; 10 days is usually sufficient.