4 Causes of Heavy Eyelids – The First Signs of Ageing

  • Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) can be helpful to reduce sagging eyelid skin
  • Eyelid surgery can also improve your vision when it becomes impacted by ptotic upper eyelid skin (drooping skin above the eye area).
  • Some patients may also be eligible for a Medicare Rebate when they have eyelid surgery.

For more information Download Our Guide to Blepharoplasty

Blepharoplasty Guide Download

Considering upper eyelid surgery or lower eyelid surgery?

Premature ageing around the eyes and eyelids is partially determined by heredity – your genetics, and how your facial muscles and skin moves when you make repeated expressions. But sun exposure isn’t helpful.  Find out the 5 causes of heavy eyelids.  And watch our VIDEO about causes of heavy, puffy looking eyelids.

Causes of Heavy Eyelids leading to needing Upper Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty)

causes of heavy eyelids and puffy eyelids, sagging eye lids - including eye-bags-ageing-eyes-anti-ageing-solutions-
  • If one of your parents had saggy, puffy or droopy eyelids, chances are that you will too.
  • And if you’ve also had a lot of sun exposure, you’re eyelid area might have very-deeply etched lines and wrinkles, as well as droopy, heavy eyelids.
  • Cosmetic injections can sometimes help to reduce the appearance of sagging eyelids or crow’s feet, but often, surgical intervention is required to reduce the excess skin folds that begin to cover the eye/iris area.

Why are eyelids the first to show ageing?

  • Let’s face it – the skin over your eyelids gets a LOT of use.
  • From blinking to squinting to facial expressions, you are using the muscles around your eyes hundreds of times a day, week in and week out, without ever thinking about the effects on your muscles and eyelid skin, over time.
  • Plus, the eyelid skin is thinner than the skin on other areas of your body and face.
  • So eyelid skin is more vulnerable to early signs of ageing because of repeated use, its thinness, and genetic tendencies for heavier eyelids or sagging eyelid skin.

Causes of heavy eyelids and puffy eyes or eye bags: Our eyelid skin is typically a bit finer than skin on other areas of our face or bodies.

  • Eventually, after decades of significant use, our eyelids will start to age.
  • Sometimes it seems sudden, but it’s typically building up over time.
  • It can look worse when we’re tired, dehydrated, stressed, sleep-deprived or recovering after a big night of birthday celebrations.

4 key causes of ‘heavy eyes’ or puffy eyelids

1. Loss of Skin Elasticity

Around your late 30’s — and earlier if you have had a lot of sun damage, eye area injuries or squinting — the thin skin of your eyelids can start to lose its elasticity and begins to stretch.

  1. This results in excess folds of eyelid skin
  2. This excess skin may hang down over the edge of the upper eyelids and cover up part of your eye and pupil area.

2. Upper Eyelid Ptosis & Loss of Peripheral Vision

  • You may feel an extra heaviness in the upper lid or notice your skin actually sitting on your eyelashes.
  • You may also be experiencing a minor loss of vision – especially your peripheral vision.

3. Weaker Muscles Around The Eyes Can Cause Eye Bags

As you get older, the muscles beneath your skin grow weaker.

  • This allows small amounts of fat to protrude through the thin skin
  • It causes eye bags and eyelid puffiness, particularly in the lower eyelid area

4. A Weak Levator Muscle can cause eyelid floppiness.

A droopy upper eyelid may be caused by a weak levator muscle, the muscle which lifts the upper eyelids.

  • Fine wrinkle lines and small wrinkly creases may appear in the delicate skin around the lids when levator muscles weaken.
  • The result is a sleepy, tired or sad look around your eyes, but the appearance of the eyes impacts your entire face.

What happens to your eyes that makes them appear older

droopy eyelids, under-eye bags, and under-eye puffiness

  • It’s not just the eyelid skin area, but the underlying skeleton that ages as we grow older.
  • The bones atrophy, meaning they become reduced; and the eye socket area widens or enlarges.
  • This can cause the skin to appear even saggier than it would be based on lost skin elasticity, alone.

Ptotic Eyelids: at what age does facial skin and eyelid skin start to become crepey, sag or droop?

  • Ageing of the skin – including your eyelids – is variable from person to person.
  • Some people even experience sagging of their upper eyelids – or show under-eye bags – early in life.
  • For others, genetic traits mean they have a double eyelid (e.g., Asian heritage) or very heavy eyelids.

 heavy eyelid -surgery

Eyelid Sagging and Crow’s Feet Wrinkles

Treatment options

What’s happening underneath the skin is that the muscles around your eyes become weaker, the expression-lines become deeper, and fine lines & wrinkles start to appear.

  • In most people, these changes to the muscles, fat and skin areas around the eye are usually the first real signs of ageing.
  • Some of the wrinkles and lines can be treated temporarily using cosmetic injections.
  • Eyelid bags and under eye shadows or ‘eye bags’ can be treated with dermal fillers in the tear trough area, fat redistribution, a canthoplasty or lower blepharoplasty (or a combination of procedures).
  • Upper eyelid skin that suffers from ptosis can be treated with eyelid surgery of the upper lid, known as the Upper Blepharoplasty.

These eye area changes may detract from the natural beauty of your eyes and face — but can be remedied with the right treatment approaches.

heavy eyelids
  • Not only can all changes to your eyes make you look prematurely older.
  • But these eye area changes can certainly make your eyelids feel very heavy or leave you looking sad and tired.

Further details of factors contributing to ageing eyes and eye area wrinkles are listed further down this page.

Blepharoplasty can help reduce the signs of ageing around your eyes and eyelids – but is surgery the answer?


If you have saggy or droopy lids, perhaps upper or lower eyelid surgery (or blepharoplasty) can help.

Find out if you’re a good candidate for eyelid surgery by phoning us on 1300 264 811 and asking to see one of our eyelid surgery experts such as Dr Patrick Briggs a Specialist Plastic Surgeon.

And you don’t have to wait until your eyelids are extremely saggy before asking for a surgery consult.

We see younger patients who are wanting a more open-eyed appearance or who have prematurely ageing eyelids (or eyelid puffiness). Plus, the earlier you have eyelid surgery, the quicker your likely recovery AND the longer you’ll get to enjoy your results.

How do you fix saggy, droopy puffy eyelids?

  • Fortunately – there are surgical, non-surgical and combined eyelid treatments to help rejuvenate your eyes and eyelid area.
  • As above, there is eyelid reduction surgery, fat redistribution, canthoplasty, cosmetic injections to crow’s feet lines and wrinkles or to the temple and brow area, and more.
  • A good injector and surgeon can work wonders in rejuvenating the upper area of the face – so, too, can a facelift or cosmetic liquid facelift injecting clinician.

Watch this short video about the four causes of heavy eyelids.

Is Eyelid Surgery only for people over fifty years in age?

  • The eyes are SUCH a key focal point of appearance, many people of younger ages are also taking advantage of the fantastic aesthetic outcomes of eyelid surgery.
  • But the average time people choose a blepharoplasty ranges between the 40s and the 70s.
  • There’s no upper limit if the patient is healthy and prepared to undergo the procedure after being well informed of potential surgery risks.
  • An Upper Blepharoplasty can sometimes be done in the clinic or upper and lower, or lower eyelid surgery is often performed in a private Hospital in Melbourne.

Example of Blepharoplasty Before & Afters to refresh the eye appearance (Upper Eyelid Lift)

Before and After an Eyelid Lift Surgery

In the example shown above, a young Upper Blepharoplasty patient wanted a more refreshed, rejuvenated eye appearance and an improved eyelid platform.

Another patient who had eyelid surgery at our Clinic in Melbourne is Amea May. She documented her experience in Video clips, after noticing a gap in recovery time and healing information about eyelid surgery.

Watch the VIDEO journey of the recovery period after having eyelid surgery (Blepharoplasty) by beauty blogger Amea May.

Want to find out what can be done to treat your sagging eyelids or eyelid area wrinkles?

Phone us on 1300 264 811 today. Or send a confidential enquiry form, below, and visit our Surgeons pages including Dr Patrick Briggs Bio page, for more information.

Eye Lid Surgery Can Help – ask us about various eyelid surgery and Blepharoplasty options.

A blepharoplasty procedure can correct droopy upper eyelids and puffy bags below your eyes by removing a small but precise amount of excess fat, skin and muscle.

  • This can help you restore your more youthful appearance with minimal cost, risk and recovery time.
  • Due to its benefits, many people choose a blepharoplasty over a complete rejuvenation facelift to start with, as it typically has lower healing and recovery time.

Some patients choose both procedures.

Some patients would first have an eyelid lift followed by a facelift, or both procedures at once might be possible if the patient is a suitable candidate.

Read our price guide on How much is a Blepharoplasty in Melbourne

The Blepharoplasty Eyelid Surgery Procedure

Click here for the upper eyelid surgery procedure information.

  • A full consultation and physical examination must be conducted to determine what is causing your eyelid concerns.
  • If there’s a functional problem with your eyelid, then the medical term for your procedure is called a ptosis repair of the eyelid.
  • These surgeries MAY sometimes be covered by insurance or Medicare rebates, as they impact your vision and ability to blink properly or fully close your eye.

If the issues of facial ageing include a sagging upper brow, then corrective brow surgery may be used to elevate the position of the brow, with or without surgery of the upper lid. The brow elevation procedure is known as a Brow Lift.

Please note that not all eyelid ptosis (drooping) can be corrected by a blepharoplasty. Your Surgeon will assess your eyelids and be able to help you determine what a specific procedure can do to help you reach your eyelid appearance or rejuvenation goals.

Your Blepharoplasty may be performed in our minor procedure room (Upper Eyelids only) or an Accredited Hospital (for both eyelids or lower eyelids only).

Eyelid Recovery Surgery

  • Eyelid surgery is a minor but complex procedure.
  • You may need a week or two to initially recover, so consult your surgeon for an estimate of how much “social downtime” you will need.
  • Normally, you should be able to return to daily activities within 7 to 10 days but sometimes swelling or bruising occurs, which can last up to 2 to 3 weeks.
  • The scar can take some time to heal.

After surgery, you may experience some post eyelid surgery swelling, bruising, irritation or dry eyes and discomfort, which are controlled with medication, cold compresses and ointments.

Caution: Eyelid Surgery Requires an Experienced Surgeon

  • Blepharoplasty is a meticulous and detailed operation, requiring the skill and experience of a greatly experienced plastic or oculoplastic surgeon.
  • To remove the precise amount in the right spot is truly an Art.
  • Remove too much eyelid skin during upper eyelid surgery, and your eyes won’t close properly.
  • Too little, and you’ll still have sagging and experience a tired, worn or angry appearance.
  • It is also critical to remove the excess in exactly the right location — or you’ll end up looking very strange.

At our practice we find that using a ‘Less is More’ or conservative approach to surgery is best.

Our Surgeon’s focus on a very natural-looking aesthetically-pleasing result, and are diligent at preventing you from having a startled appearance.

Scars after Surgery on your Eyelids

All surgery leaves some scars and our surgeon’s expertise is demonstrated when minimising your final scars – this can sometimes be helped by hiding the incision in the natural creases of your eyelid.  You can see the scars in some of the blepharoplasty video footage filmed by AMEA May.

Watch the VIDEO journey of the recovery period after having eyelid surgery (Blepharoplasty) by beauty blogger Amea May.

  • Because of its relatively low downtime and significantly rejuvenating effects, eyelid surgery is very popular.
  • Recently released 2015 USA plastic surgery statistics from the USA show eyelid surgery being the fifth most popular cosmetic surgery with 139,000 women and 30,700 men having the procedure.
  • In Australia, like most Western Countries, our population continues to age so more and more blepharoplasty operations are being performed each year.

The role of dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections

  • Dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections can also play a role in looking more youthful and preventing the early signs of ageing.
  • A word of caution, fillers can be useful in replacing lost facial volume but may be of little help in reducing the effects of excess skin, skin laxity and weaker muscles.
  • For some patients where filler and injections are becoming ineffective, eyelid surgery may be required.
  • There are also some less invasive techniques including laser blepharoplasty that may help.

Our practice offers the full range of non-surgical and surgical solutions for an ageing face. Visit Coco Ruby for information on cosmetic injections and tear trough fillers.

Combined Facial and Eyelid Procedures

Our group plastic surgeons practice also has several other blepharoplasty experts, as some patients choose to have a blepharoplasty while undergoing another face or body rejuvenation surgery.

Our Facial Surgeons who also perform Blepharoplasty procedures include Dr Patrick Briggs, Dr Richard Sackelariou.

  • For more information, visit our Ageing Eye Treatment pages or fill in the confidential contact form.
  • Our Patient Care Coordinators are happy to help answer your questions or to arrange a consultation for you with one of our leading Eyelid Lift or Facial Surgeons.

Further Reading about Eyelid Surgery

Last updated: 29/04/2022
Author profile image
Dr Patrick Briggs - FRCS, FRCSI (Plast. Surg)
Dr Patrick Briggs is an experienced Specialist Plastic Surgeon Now based in Melbourne, Australia. He is an expert in Breast, Body and Face Surgery with a special interest in Gender Assignment Surgery. Dr Briggs has been published widely in surgical literature; he is trained and experienced in all aspects of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery. Dr Briggs’ extensive experience across multiple surgical fields has allowed him to refine his skills to produce optimum results for his patients. Combined with his experience, Dr Briggs continually attends conferences and seminars to extend his knowledge and training surrounding the latest and best surgical techniques and equipment. By doing so he is able to provide his patients with the highest level of care and skill ensuring quality results.

Coco Ruby’s Specialist Plastic and ENT Surgeons

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic Surgeons are dedicated to best practice patient care and education, customising Breast Enlargement Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

coco ruby specialist plastic surgeons 

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Phone 1300 264 811, Email us: enquiries@cocoruby.com.au or Book a FREE 15-minute Phone Chat with our Patient Liaison Manager or a Virtual Consultation with a Surgeon.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.