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Cosmetic surgery known as ‘eye bag removal’ increases in popularity in teenagers and young adults

Posted: 30/04/2020


Lower blepharoplasty is a cosmetic procedure to remove excess skin or fat from a person’s eyelids. This procedure is normally performed on middle-aged adults to tighten the skin and soft tissues of the eyelids to reshape them. Sagging eye bags can be caused by a number of issues, most commonly ageing, sun damage, trauma or some underlying medical conditions. Approximately 3,000 cosmetic eye surgeries went ahead last year in the UK.

A lower blepharoplasty is normally performed in a private healthcare setting and costs between £2,000 and £6,000. The procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic, where a small incision is made into the drooping skin. The cut is normally along the lash line, or the lateral creases. Excess skin, fat, and tissue is removed and then the incision is secured with sutures. The NHS will perform this surgery, but only if the patient’s eyelids cause significant pain or sight issues.

Recently, there has been a staggering 30% increase in the number of enquiries from young adults and teenagers wanting this type of surgery to make them look ‘refreshed’ or younger. This has been linked to the use of social media, smartphones and tablets, and excessive screen time. As a result of lack of sleep, some teenagers and young adults are looking tired and suffering from a loss of volume in the lower eyelid area. It is thought that social media is also playing a huge part in the increase in enquiries from this age group, due to the pressure it exerts on teenagers to look ‘perfect’ at all times.

Many cosmetic surgeons are reportedly not comfortable performing this surgery on teenagers and young adults without input from a psychologist first. Top surgeons believe there is a link between mental health conditions and the desire for the surgery, and that with assistance from a psychologist the patient may no longer feel the need to proceed with surgery.

As with any surgery, there are serious risks that patients should be aware of if they are considering this particular procedure. These include:

  • infection or bleeding;
  • increased risk of a blood clot;
  • too much skin being removed;
  • bleeding into the eye socket;
  • corneal abrasion;
  • double vision;
  • the lower eyelid drooping away from the eye and turning outwards (ectropion);
  • the lower eyelid becoming pulled down and showing the white of the eye below the iris (eyelid retraction); and
  • visual impairment.

Complications may not occur straightaway, but later on in life. Some patients will also require further lower blepharoplasty surgery if their previous issues reoccur.

To prevent more young people feeling the need for lower blepharoplasty surgery, the Royal Society for Public Health advises: “Taking a break from social media when in the bedroom or during sleeping hours can be a great way to ensure that social media use does not override a young person's ability to get a good night's sleep, which is a vital component to overall health and well-being.”

Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches Cooper who specialises in cosmetic surgery claims, said: “Whether or not surgery actually improves self-confidence is a matter of opinion. Studies have shown a similar increase in body-image satisfaction with and without cosmetic surgery, suggesting self-confidence improves with time regardless. Some teenagers believe that having surgery will immediately make them look and feel better, as well as boosting their own self-confidence: many have little understanding of the risks that can be involved with surgery. It is commendable that surgeons are undertaking screening procedures and consulting psychologists before performing surgery on young people, and we hope to see this practice continue and grow.”


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