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What Are the Pros and Cons of Surgery for Dark Circles?

By Crystal Cook
Updated May 21, 2024
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Surgery to minimize dark circles under the eyes has a number of pros and cons, but some of the biggest advantages are effectiveness and quick recovery time; the most significant cons usually revolve around healing problems, the potential for surgical error, and high cost. Almost any surgery comes with a lot of attached risks, and these often vary from person to person depending on overall health and any existing medical conditions. Even still, surgery for dark circles is generally considered pretty low-risk. Patients often have a choice between traditional incisions and laser-guided cuts, too. The costs of laser procedures tend to be a lot higher, but they also tend to be a lot more precise. This can lessen the likelihood of surgical errors that can leave people deformed or badly scarred. People who are deciding whether to undergo this procedure are usually advised to talk through all of the possible risks and benefits with their care provider.

Surgical Options

Dark circle removal is usually considered to be a cosmetic procedure, which means that people choose it primarily because of how they want to look — not because of any true medical need. Dark circles are a common sign of aging and aren’t usually considered harmful. Still, they can be unsightly, and people often tire of covering them with makeup or trying at-home remedies to decrease puffiness and bagginess.

There are typically two surgical options. Blepheroplasty is a procedure in which excess skin is removed from under the eyes and the remaining skin is tightened to remove bags. The alternative uses lasers in an attempt to rejuvenate collagen in the skin. Each laser targets a particular area of the eye, eradicating dead cells and causing the skin to constrict back into itself.


One of the main pros of surgery for dark circles is that it is very effective. Surgery is often considered a total solution, although it also is considered a drastic one. One of the main benefits is that patients look younger and healthier after having the surgery. Most estimates report that somewhere between 60 and 80% of patients see a significant improvement in their appearance after surgery, and in most cases the results are permanent. Some cosmetic procedures have to be repeated every few years, but this isn’t usually the case with dark circle removals.

Recovery Time and Pain

Patients also tend to recover fairly quickly. Most surgeries are performed using local anesthesia, which can improve safety and precision and patients often have only minimal scars and little to no memory of the actual surgery. Depending on the specifics of the situation, oral sedation, similar to the type used by dentists for surgeries, might also be used. There is often less bleeding during surgery with this type of anesthesia.

Anesthesia means that people won’t feel pain while the procedure is happening, but it’s common for the eye area to ache and hurt for several days if not weeks afterwards. Pain is one of the biggest cons for many people. Surgery for dark circles isn’t nearly as invasive as other sorts of surgeries, but it still involves cuts to the skin that can make the site tender and raw for quite some time.

Secondary Problems

There are also a number of things that could go wrong during the operation. Blepheroplasty can require additional surgeries to correct problems caused by the procedure if it isn’t done exactly right the first time, for instance. Surgical error can also make an eye bag problem worse than it was in the beginning. Muscle tissue around the eye can be weakened, leading some patients to have a droopy, sad-eyed look similar to that of a hound dog. There is also a risk that the lower eyelid could be positioned incorrectly or there can be a shortage of tissue. Blood loss during the procedure also can be a problem in some patients.


Another of the biggest cons is the cost. Many health insurance programs won’t cover the procedure unless it’s medically necessary, which means that patients often foot the entire bill themselves. It can be prohibitively expensive for some, with fees for the surgeon, anesthesiologist, post-operative care, surgery support staff, and consultation fees. When combined these fees may put such surgery out of reach for many people, or may lead to debt that will last for years.

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Discussion Comments

By donasmrs — On Dec 18, 2013

I don't know about other surgical methods, but chemical peels are not best for dark circles. The skin under the eyes is very thin and sensitive. Chemical peels are too rough and irritating to use around the eyes.

My sister had a chemical peel done for dark circles and it didn't work. In fact, she thinks that her eyes look worse now. So I don't recommend this procedure for this purpose. If anyone has had a different experience though, please share it. It's possible that my sister's experience is an exception. Perhaps others have had better experiences.

By SteamLouis — On Dec 17, 2013

I think surgery should be the last option for dark circles. I personally would try other treatments first. Some health conditions can cause dark circles. It's a good idea to get a general check up first. There are also many cosmetic products on the market that can help.

I'm sure that there are cases where the only thing that will work is surgery. But even then, I would think twice and make sure that I'm working with a very good doctor. Complications are always possible with surgery.

By SarahGen — On Dec 17, 2013

Not just women, but many men get blepheroplasty for undereye bags and dark circles these days. It works well and recovery is very quick like the article said. I read that older celebrity men make an annual visit to the doctor's office for this procedure, to look young and fresh. Clearly, the advantages outweigh the risks.

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