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Blog: Crushing an enemy of women of Indian descent

Blog: Crushing an enemy of women of Indian descent

Just as I’m entering my 30s and beginning to lose some baby fat on my face and gain some definition around my cheekbones and jawline, I’m also gaining some unwanted definition under my eyes.

My dark circles are hereditary; I’ve had them since I was six years old. Over the years in my teens and early adulthood they lightened and darkened depending on whether it was my father’s good skin or my mother’s pigmentation that had more influence at the moment. As I launched into adult life, erratic sleep from meeting deadlines and my mother’s Indian genes reared their ugly heads. You’d only need to meet with my Bengali-Malay maternal aunts and cousins to discover that my bottomless under-eye pits of doom are considered among the least severe in the continuum of dark circles, yet Dr Lam Bee Lan of Ageless Aesthetics Medical Centre classified my tear trough deformity as class II, or moderate.

Tear trough deformity in medical speak is characterised by a sunken appearance of the eye that results in the casting of a dark shadow over the lower eyelid, resulting in a tired appearance in spite of adequate rest.

This is usually due to the thinning of fat under the lower eyelids – or in my case, as Dr Lam pointed out, the absence of fat – as one ages. Because the skin under the eyes is often thin, the reduced fat under the lower eyelid means that the deep purple-brown colour of the muscle beneath, called the orbicularis oculi muscle, becomes more visible.

Bad makeup can highlight rather than conceal your under-eye circles
Bad makeup can highlight rather than conceal your dark under-eye circles

Creams and concealers may lighten pigmented skin, but they do not contribute to the fullness of youthful skin. My medium skin tone is both a boon and a bane. While dark circles may seem less obvious on my face than on a pale-skinned cousin’s and can usually be covered up by concealer (I use Bobbi Brown Corrector in Peach or Dark Peach depending on how brown I get), the melanin I produce in my skin can also make my dark circles seem worse than they really are.

Enter Restylane filler treatment for tear troughs, which is one of the most effective treatments available today for treating dark eye circles caused by fat loss beneath the lower eyelids. The main objective is to fill the depression caused by the lack of fat under the eyelids to an appropriate level; the filler will act as a buffer between the dark purple-brown muscle under the eye and the skin, resulting in the reduction of hollowness and lightening of colour and wrinkles under the eyes.

I wondered if I needed two buckets of fillers for this procedure – one for each eye –  and I wasn’t far wrong!

On my first appointment at Ageless Aesthetics Medical Centre, I was asked to clean my face by a friendly nurse who then applied numbing cream under my eyes. While waiting for the numbing cream to set in, the nurse took photos of my face from all angles. Then Dr Lam sat with me to assess my bottomless under-eye pits of doom.

Frontal view: my under-eyes just after one session
Frontal view: my under-eyes just after one session

Dr Lam said that I definitely needed more than a vial of Restylane Skinboosters, “Because your dark eye circles are so severe, your eyelid-cheek junction, or the area between your lower eyelid and your cheek is an obvious dark depressed stripe; ideally it should be seamless and of a similar tone, colour and elasticity as the cheek.”

When asked about the pain threshold she said,”The under-eyes usually feel little or even no pain during minimally invasive procedures such as fillers – compared to the lips, for example – but there will definitely be discomfort.” The wuss that I am I asked for a vibrator to be pressed against my earlobe the whole time, and Dr Lam called me “kinky girl” when she realised that it was mostly for comfort rather than to distract from the pain. I explained to her that the vibrator reminded me of my purring cat.

For the first session, Dr Lam treated my dark eye circles with Restylane Skinboosters. Dr Lam said, “The filler will smoothen out most of your under-eye wrinkles and fine lines, and also help to lighten the dark circles.” Restylane Skinboosters are a type of soft filler recommended for deep skin hydration and is highly recommended for the treatment of the tear troughs.

Side view: Before and after view after just one session
Side view: Before and after view after just one session

However I would need to return for another session to inject a denser Restylane filler under the lower eyelid muscle to lift it, followed by layering a little more Restylane Skinboosters on top of it for a more aesthetically-pleasing result, what she called the “layering effect”. Dr Lam added, “It’s crucial that the aesthetics doctor selects the appropriate filler with the right density; if the filler is too dense your skin might end up lumpy.”

On the first session, I was sat up in an inclined bed and told to keep very still and my eyes open throughout the procedure; I chose to focus on a sprinkler on the ceiling. The only time I felt pain was when she made an entry point with a needle; her manoeuvring the needle under the skin under my eyes was not particularly painful but felt odd and uncomfortable. She released the filler as she withdrew the syringe and when it was completely withdrawn, she moulded the filler to my cheek contours with gloved fingers. After putting on some antibiotic cream on my face, I returned to the office; the results were subtle enough that my colleagues noticed the dark circles had lightened but little if anything else. I was also told that 10 to 20 percent of the filling effects would be lost over the next few days as the swelling accompanying the filler subsided;  it’s important for patients to return for a review two to four weeks later.

See! Bollywood celebrity Rani Mukherjee has dark circles too!
See! Bollywood celebrity Rani Mukherjee has dark circles too!

At the second session scheduled a month later, in the same inclined bed with my eyes focused on the sprinkler, the treatment was slightly more painful when she had to direct the blunt cannula under the muscle.

However the pain stopped when she began releasing the filler into the intended area; lidocaine, an anaesthetic formulated with Restylane fillers, contributed to the pain reduction. There was still the odd discomfort of having the cannula manoeuvring its way under my muscle and skin. When the syringe had been withdrawn from my face, she moulded the filler to my cheek contours. My colleagues at the office noticed a slight rise on the top of my cheeks and there was further lightening of my under-eye dark circles.

Each session took about 15 to 20 minutes, but the second session felt a little longer.  The results typically last between six months to a year or even longer depending on the individual. The usual things apply to post-treatment care for the first few days: namely no alcohol, saunas, swimming, vigorous exercise nor sleeping on my face or in any way that might displace the fillers, and to be gentle when washing my face.

With Dr Lam’s expert hands, I did not bruise; the only inconvenience was not having to go to gym for a few days and a slightly restless first night after the treatment from sleeping on my back. I like my new face; the top of my cheekbones under my eyes feel a little raised overall, but the wrinkles are mostly gone and the pigmentation has been reduced so much – about 80 to 90 percent – that I actually use less concealer now – sorry Bobbi Brown! For more information, visit agelessaesthetics.sg or call 92271933 or 64520368.

Raised in Singapore by middle-class Malay-Muslim parents, Nanny Eliana started composing short stories and poetry on her father’s typewriter at age six. As a student of the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ), she published her first Malay short story in the local Malay daily at 14, followed by two poems. In the same year, she was selected by an English student’s magazine and under the tutelage of a professional editor, she wrote its entertainment column for two years; this was the same year that she attended her first music press conference, for the famous rock band Jon Bon Jovi. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a double major in Theatre Studies and Sociology, then, upon graduation, plunged into freelance events management and writing for public relations and advertising agencies and women’s magazines. At 23, she became the founder and principal consultant of Bridges M&C Pte Ltd, a public relations agency. In 2010, she co-founded contract publishing firm Bridges Publishing Pte Ltd with her fiancé, a retired Major from the British Parachute Regiment. In the same year, she received an Arts Creation Fund grant from the National Arts Council to complete her first novel. The fruit of that grant is this, her first novel.