What Causes Water Retention Under my Eyes?

I am 47 years old and I have developed malar edema. It sits right above my cheekbones and will not go away. Should I find out if there is an underlying health condition before I go to a plastic surgeon and if so, what type of tests should be done? Thanks

Doctor Answers (4)

Fluid retention under eyes

+1

Hi Lisa

I know how frustrating your condition can be.  As stated by the other doctors checking for a familial predisposition should shed some light as to the cause.  However, I have found this problem to be what we as doctors call, multifactorial (many things can lead to it).  You should check with your primary doctor if any medical condition can be adding to the problem (something that would cause you to retain salt). 

As far as treatment options.  Surgery can aggravate the condition and cause more or new fluid retention.  Mechanical compression with tape at night, etc. is very unpredictable if at all helpful.  Some of the more aggressive lasers which remodel the skin and deeper tissue have shown some success - but with prolonged recovery.  I and some colleagues have attempted inserting a metal probe (insulated) to the area and applying heat to shrink and tighten the tissue and reduce fluid.  This is generally benign and has had variable success.

I think a consultation with a specialist is worthwhile so the tissue can be seen and felt.

Best of luck


Los Angeles Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Fluid retention lower eyelids and cheeks "malar bags"

+1

Malar bags are small sacks of edema that accumulate over the cheek bones in people who are genetically predisposed to have it occur.  You can try and cut down on your salt intake and see if they improve.  There are no surgical ways to reliably decrease malar bags...but I have been successful in people who are also candidates for Cheek Augmentation, by improvong the Cheek Shape with Cheek Implants that camouflage the malar bags.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

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Consider seeing an oculoplastic surgeon.

+1

Dear Lisa

There is what doctors call a differential diagnosis for malar swelling.  However, for many this change is associated with aging and family genetics.  So if all the women of your family have a similar issue as they age, that is most likely the answer.  Yet there are other possible causes so if the malar festoon is newly acquired and not a feature of your family, a consultation to address possible medical causes is reasonable.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Los Angeles Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.