‘You look tired…’.
Three of my most dreaded words. Just typing them sends a shudder down my spine. I hear them often and have in fact since I was a teenager. Usually I just nod along and offer a feeble lie: “Yep, long hours in the office”. But the truth is, I don’t work crazy hours. I don’t have toddlers at home. And my partying days are far behind me. I was born with discernibly deep, dark under-eye circles that no amount of serum or cream can fix. They’re genetic, simple as that.
At 31 years old, I’ve mostly learnt to live with them. A little Bobbi Brown colour corrector, a few strategic strokes of highlighter, and that’s as good as it gets. Until I recently stumbled across something interesting on Instagram… A beauty editor I know and respect published a post about her own dark under-eye circles and her experience having them corrected with filler.
Filler is not something I especially love as far as semi-invasive procedures go. Botox? Bring it on. But filler takes an exceptional amount of skill to make look natural. And sure, some people aren’t all that interested in being subtle (exhibit A: the entire cast of MAFS) but I am personally terrified of looking like anyone but myself.
Thankfully, I know just the person for the job. Natalie Abouchar is the director of Privée Clinic and has been a registered nurse for over 10 years. She’s so good, the people from Galderma (the company that makes Restylane and Dysport) have appointed her the role of Clinical Trainer, meaning she teaches other doctors and nurses how to inject.
To understand the cure, we need to get a better grasp on the cause. At my first consultation with Natalie, she explains why the eye area is particularly prone to aging. “As we get older, we have fat loss from the different fat compartments in the face and this includes the area around the orbit and eye. Losing this precious fat gives the illusion of shadowing, which makes the eyes look sunken and dark,” she explains.
Contrary to popular opinion, no one is born with dark under-eye circles, there’s simply less fat there to buffer the underlying blood vessels. Some people are born with extra padding which naturally conceals this darkness, whiles others – including yours truly – have less fat there to begin with.
This is where the filler comes in. “The purpose of filler under the eyes is to plump out the areas of hollowness and decrease the shadowing, creating a more refreshed and rejuvenated appearance,” she says.
Natalie recommends the treatment for anyone with substantial hollowness around the eye area, and she’s treated clients in their early 20s all the way up to clients in their 60s and 70s. “In fact, filler in this area works better on people who have good tissue elasticity,” she explains. “When injected correctly, the client will look well-rested and bright-eyed, and this can last for up to two years.”
Like any cosmetic procedure, there are risks involved. The most common of which include bruising, swelling, and tenderness at the injection site. Puffiness is usually associated with incorrect product placement or too much product being injected. Natalie details the more serious side-effects including colour changes in the skin, infection, delayed reactions and allergies. Other more rare and extreme risks for filler in this area can be an inadvertent intra-arterial injection which can result in necrosis of the skin and blindness. This is why is it so important to see an experienced injector.
With the potential risks well communicated, I made my decision to go ahead with the procedure. Natalie booked me in for two appointments to allow enough time for the filler to settle. “It’s important for the injector to under inject on the day in anticipation of the water absorption that will happen in the following week,” Natalie says. “If the filler is injected to look 100 per cent perfect on the day of treatment, often the patient will look over-injected or puffy once the water absorption kicks in.”
To prepare for my treatment, I arrive with freshly cleansed, bare skin. Even sunscreen can increase the risk of contamination. Natalie applies a numbing gel to the area and lets that absorb as she prepares the formula. Using a cannula (a tiny, flexible tube) rather than a traditional needle, Natalie injects the filler into my tear troughs and around the orbital rim. She also injects a little into the upper cheek area to further lift the area and give it more volume. The cannular is so tiny, I barely feel her making the incisions, which is pretty great.
When I finally get hold of the mirror, the difference is barely discernible. There are (thankfully) no signs of bruising or swelling. And the next day, right on cue, the area that Natalie injected has further lifted and filled out because of water absorption. This is the real result, and I’m stoked. No one can tell I’ve done anything to my face, and I suddenly have a very redundant bag of concealer products. For the first time in my life, I can leave the house without applying a smudge of product.