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Forget all those creams that promise to reduce eye puffiness. A new beauty trend makes your eyes swell up on purpose — with the goal of making you look less tired.

Fans of the procedure, called carboxytherapy, can spend thousands of dollars to have carbon dioxide injected both above and below the eye, hoping to stimulate blood flow and erase dark circles.

But experts caution there isn’t any evidence to back up the procedure. It’s likely not even targeting the real root of the skin blemishes. “I would be very skeptical of its use for dark circles,” said Dr. Molly Wanner, a cosmetic dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.


Here’s how it claims to work: Carbon dioxide builds up in our cells naturally, and blood carries it away. Carboxytherapy injections are supposed to trick the area around the eye into thinking it needs more oxygen, which dilates blood vessels and stimulates increased blood flow in the area.

But that strategy is based on the theory that dark circles are caused by poor circulation, and that’s not often the case, experts say. More commonly, dark circles show up because the skin under the eyes is thin, which makes the dark tint of blood vessels more visible.


A study published in Skin Research and Technology in 2015 found there was no difference in blood flow to the eye area between people with dark circles and people without.


That hasn’t stopped clinics from offering the puffing procedure in the United States and abroad. Eye carboxytherapy can cost anywhere from $75 to upward of $200 a session, and some clinics urge patients to get as many as a dozen treatments. (The procedure is also marketed to treat stretch marks, even out cellulite, and improve the appearance of some scars.)

There aren’t any documented cases of bad side effects from the eye treatments, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely safe, experts caution.

“It gives you gas in an area where it’s not supposed to be,” Wanner said. Bruising at the injection site is common.

And as for what it feels like to have your eyes puffed up to the point like they’ve been stung by a bee: Leanne Griffin, a registered nurse and CEO of Vixen Aesthetics in Utica, Mich., said few patients complain of pain during the procedure, which takes about 30 minutes. Most, however, say they feel pressure. “The gas will make the eyes swollen briefly until all the gas is absorbed,” Griffin said.

Experts warn that the procedure could create a cringe-worthy side effect: wrinkles.

“Skin around the eyes is the thinnest skin on our body,” explained Dr. Brett Kotlus, a cosmetic surgeon in New York City. “Repeated episodes of skin stretching around the eyes could cause looseness and wrinkles.”

Kotlus said he scoured the web for before-and-after photos of the procedure to see if it might have any merit despite the lack of peer-reviewed research. The only difference he noted: a dramatic change in lighting.

“Typically, people show their best work with these [photos],” he said. “So if the best work is questionable, I would be skeptical of the procedure.”

  • What a stupid article. “It gives you gas in an area where it’s not supposed to be,”……as if botox is supposed to be in your body too? These cosmetic surgeons and medspa doctors have no qualms about silicone breast implants and literal toxins (botox) being injected into the face which has caused MAJOR and horrible side effects yet the one treatment which is completely natural (co2 gas) they think is risky. There are literally no proven side effects and lots of proven positive results. They need to get their priorities straight.

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