REVIEWS: The fix for my baggy under-eyes

I started writing this post on Thursday, my first day being a non-employee. I had worked with a toxic group of people for over 3 years, and had reached my limit. The 2 weeks notice period was painful! Not sure what the future holds for me, but my first day off the job was spent getting my hair cut, and round 3 of filler injections (3 out of 4 filler steps). It’s weird to think I was excited about someone sticking needles in my face and injecting donated fat!

How did I get here? Well, it all started out with tattoo removal. Then hair removal. Then fillers! I progressed through the various treatment options the same way I expect many other clients have done. Start with one treatment, see the advertising in the waiting room and lobby for other services, and what the heck, let’s give it a go! A pesky little tattoo that I didn’t like, eventually morphed into me fixing my dark, baggy circles under my eyes.

I was getting laser hair removal by the technician one day and asked her for a recommendation. I asked “What could I do to fix these under-eye bags that made me look like I’ve been on a heroin bender for the last 3 weeks?” She responded with “fillers”. Great. Not the answer I was looking for. I was hoping they had some awesome under-eye cream, or some quick and magic treatment to fix my problem. Fillers? They’ve terrified me ever since I watched the show called “Botched”. I have a fondness for Dr. Terry Dubrow (one of the star doctors on the show). He’s like the “Boob Whisperer”. I’d love to have him build me a new set. I’m addicted to that show. But I digress.

The laser hair removal tech did give me a recommendation for an eye cream, which I tried. $90 for a little container. About 6 weeks later and no change…I started seriously considering fillers. I booked a consult appointment first. The consult appointment was with 2 doctors’ assistants. Not sure what their training was. They thought I’d need two Juvederm products. One Juvederm product for the under eye area (can’t remember the product name), and Juvederm’s “Voluma” product for cheek area. Next step was an appointment with the doctor. I booked it right after the consult…feeling both excited and terrified at the same time.

My daughter and I have watched Botched for years, and have talked about “what would you have done” if you decided to have plastic surgery. Boobs aside, I’ve always hated my under-eyes. I’ve never felt comfortable without loads of concealer on before I’d walk out the door. And worse, I couldn’t stand to be without concealer, even in my own home without any prospect of seeing another person. I didn’t even want to look in the mirror at myself with my under-eyes the way they were. I knew I needed some kind of help.

When I finally got to see the doctor, he explained that with my dark veins under the eyes, and my face structurally, he couldn’t do what I was advised in the consult appointment. He said I basically didn’t have any cheeks. The idea of my face are essentially totally flat. No “apples” or cheeks to speak of. It’s not like I had cheeks earlier in life and they went away…I just never had them to start with! He said he needed to “build a cake” kind of approach…Allofill (a type of filler) and Voluma… and that it would take time to allow things to “settle and build up”. He explained his recommended treatment plan (see below). So my first treatment was Allofill to start the base layer for cheeks.

My treatment plan:

Step 1: Allofill to start building cheeks and “cheek apples”

Step 2: Voluma along the cheek bones

Timing = 4-6 weeks after step 1

Step 3: Allofill under the eyes

Timing = 5-6 weeks after step 2

Step 4: Allofill for cheek apples

Timing = 6 months after step 1

The first treatment session started with the doctor numbing my face. Basically right along the cheekbone line and a little bit above and below. He let the numbing stuff work for a bit and then he came back to start the procedure. This was the Allofill treatment, which is donated fat cells. The filler is frozen and needs time to thaw first, about 30 minutes. Yes, donated fat cells from screened donors. The doctor was going to inject that to my face. What the heck did I sign up for? I have been desperate for a cure to my dark under-eye bags for YEARS, so I guess that’s why I went along with it!

The doctor uses a cannula, which is like a thick syringe. The product is inserted using a “fanning” motion (think of those fan-shaped makeup brushes. The way the brush hairs fan out from the brush base is the same direction the doctor inserts the filler.).

For the most part I only felt pressure of the cannula moving under my skin. Only when he got close to my under eye area (the base of my eye socket), it got a bit sensitive. The hard part was keeping my eyes open so the doctor could see where my bags were at, and where he needed to put the filler. Whenever I’m getting any kind of medical procedure, I always close my eyes. It’s my way of dealing with pain, discomfort, and fear. Keeping my eyes open was mentally difficult.

The procedure was done after what seemed like 10 minutes. The doctor handed me a mirror to see the results. Right away I could see the improvement. The bags were noticeably better. Not entirely gone, but much, much better.

The second step (4-6 weeks after step 1…I can’t remember the exact timing of my appointments) was the Voluma product to really build up the cheeks. I decided to get a full syringe on each side (I could have done a half syringe on each side, but I knew I needed more volume in order to finally have noticeable cheeks!). They say this stuff on average lasts about 2 years. The numbing was done for this session also. Thankfully. I couldn’t imagine any filler procedure being pleasant without being numbed first. And again, around the eye area was quite sensitive. Without a stress ball in my hand, I think I could have squeezed my own hand til it turned white.

After this treatment I really saw a huge difference. More volume. Hence “Voluma”. The first few weeks after treatment, my cheeks felt firm, in an unnatural way. But by 4 weeks later, they feel softer and more like normal (but still looks firm and full, it just feels like it’s my own skin now, and not some foreign substance under my skin).

The one thing I could easily notice after step 2 was a visible “cliff” at the top edge of my new cheeks. So on Thursday, step 3 is more Allofill to soften that edge and further decrease the eye bags look.

Step 3 went very similarly to step 1. Procedure was just about identical. Afterwards I had a little bruising and swelling at about the base of my eye sockets. The noticeable cliff became not very noticeable after this round of Allofill. Just a tad on the higher areas of the cheekbones (very slight cliff there).

Four days later I went back in for a treatment that is designed to reduce the size of the fat pads under the eyes. Before the procedure, I had to sign a scary consent form that states that results aren’t guaranteed…that the procedure may feel like the type of static shock you get from dragging your feet (with socks on) on carpet. Sounds like fun…static shocks under my eyes. Another warning was that heat might be felt, and ongoing feedback to the technician will be required during the procedure (patient tells technician if the static shock feeling & heat is bearable, or if it’s too much). Going into the procedure I didn’t know how my under eyes would look afterwards. Hopefully not red or swollen.

The doctor’s assistant took me back to the treatment room and assured me that the consent form doesn’t represent what the majority of people experience with this procedure (it’s called ThermiSmooth). She had me lay down on a massage-like table. Nice and comfy. One thing I had to do was lift the back of my shirt up, and make sure my bare, lower back was laying on a black mat. This mat made sure I wouldn’t feel a static shock. She then removed my eye makeup with alcohol wipes. Next she applied a moisturizer gel under one of my eyes. She then put a small wand (connected to a big machine) under my eye. She kept the wand moving back and forth under my eye and around my crows feet. About every minute or two she would increase the temperature. I could feel the wand get warmer as she increased the temperature. The doctor wanted her to aim for 10 minutes at 40-45 Celsius. She was able to move me quickly from about 30-35, up to 42 without any issue. Once the temperature exceeded 42, I could certainly feel the warmth. I actually enjoyed the entire treatment! Maybe it was the fact that it was a cold winter day, which made the heat treatment feel so good. Absolutely no static shock type of feeling at all during the procedure. So I guess that black pad underneath my bare lower back, clearly did it’s job.

She moved on to my other eye and was able to start at about 43 Celsius instead of starting out at a much lower temperature. No issues on the other eye.

When the procedure was done, my under eyes were a bit red from the heat. It was hardly even noticeable though. It’s not at all like I walked out to the waiting room and people could tell I had something done…was barely noticeable.

In talking with the assistant about next steps, it sounds like I’ll need a total of 3-4 ThermiSmooth treatments. According to the assistant, most people need about that many rounds. One thing I asked her was to clarify what this procedure does. She said the treatment breaks up the fat pad under the eyes, tightens the skin, and also stimulates collagen production. The next day I could tell that the crows feet were much less noticeable. And the fat pads seemed to be a bit smaller too. I’m loving that this procedure is helping to take care of those pesky crows feet. Besides the baggy under-eyes, I swear the crows feet are the only other thing that tips people off that I’m in my (gasp!) lower 40’s.

What was funny is that the assistant said the whole reason why the doctor added ThermiSmooth to their service offerings, was because Dr. Paul Nassif (also one of the doctors on Botched) uses ThermiSmooth in his practice. The doctor I go to in north east Illinois met Dr. Nassif in person, and thinks highly of him & his recommendations. Funny that she mentioned Botched and Dr. Nassif, since I’ve been hooked on that show! I didn’t even mention the show to the assistant, so she wouldn’t have known I was a fan. No real reason for her to bring up Dr. Nassif, except to explain that a highly sought-after and well known plastic surgeon uses ThermiSmooth in his practice too.

In addition to the filler injections I’ve had done so far, I’m very satisfied with the results! My next appointment for ThermiSmooth is in 3 weeks. Looking forward to seeing more results! At this point in time, I’d absolutely, hands down recommend fillers and ThermiSmooth to anyone suffering from dark under-eye bags. Glad I took the plunge and did this!