How far would you go to get rid of the dark circles under your eyes? It seems like many of us are willing to try anything to make these pesky “panda eyes” disappear. Some desperate for a solution are even going as far as having the same gas found in fire extinguishers injected directly into the skin as a method to reduce bags and dark circles. This treatment, called carboxy therapy, is gaining a lot of attention on social media where practitioners and patients are showing the procedure in action and the immediate results are hard to watch.
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Based on observation alone, it’s hard to understand why people would willingly try this. As the videos show, the moment the carbon dioxide enters the skin; the injection site and surrounding area begins to swell up, turning the patient into a human balloon. So is carboxy therapy safe and can it really eliminate dark circles for good?
According to New York oculoplastic surgeon James Gordon, MD, although carboxy therapy isn’t new, it is becoming a popular treatment for dark circles. “Carboxy is essentially a carbon dioxide (CO2) therapy administered by injections under the skin. It was initially developed to minimize skin irregularity and eliminate post-liposuction residual fat deposits,” says Dr. Gordon. “But over the past few years, it has gained popularity as a minimally invasive treatment for dark circles and wrinkles around the eyes.”
Although the idea of injecting gas into your skin sounds bizarre, Dr. Gordon says that’s not the reason patients should steer clear for now. “Carbon dioxide is naturally present in our bodies at all times. We inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. While it may technically sound safe, carboxy therapy has not been approved by the FDA to treat dark under-eye circles,” says Dr. Gordon. “Although it’s used widely in Europe, caution should be exercised, as there is no conclusive clinical literature to support its safety, ‘revolutionary’ claims or adverse effects.”
Carboxy therapy can take up to 15 minutes and several treatments (anywhere from 6-10 sessions) are needed in order to see results, which can last for a few months. Dr. Gordon believes other tried-and-true noninvasive options are effective and yield great results. "I would be hesitant to recommend carboxy as there are many other options available, like fillers and laser skin resurfacing, that have been proven to treat under eye wrinkling and dark circles," says Dr. Gordon. "Before trying a procedure that you aren't familiar with, patients should always consult with an oculoplastic surgeon trained in treating the delicate areas around the eyes and weigh the risks and benefits."