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    "It Made Me Very Self-Conscious": After Years Of Living With Tear Trough Deformity, I Tried Filler Injections And The Results Shocked Me

    I would 1,000% do this again.

    Hey, what's up, hello! I'm Terry, a senior editor and celebrity strategist at BuzzFeed 👋🏾.

    Over the past three years or so, I've noticed an increasingly sunken appearance surrounding my under-eye area.

    A photo of myself wearing a hat, scarf, and coat with arrows pointing at my under-eye hollowness
    Terry Carter Jr.

    Recently, while attending a friend's birthday party, I noticed the hollowness around my eyes was so prominent that it showed up in almost every photo I took, and it made me very self-conscious.

    A photo of myself and a friend smiling
    Terry Carter Jr.

    Being the curious person that I am, I decided to research and see if there was anything I could do about it. That's how I learned about tear trough filler*, which corrects under-eye hollowness.

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    *I'll explain more on how tear trough filler works in just a bit.

    However, what I didn't find were many examples of Black men — or men of color in general — who had documented their results after trying it.

    Giphy / Via giphy.com

    Part of it could be due to the fact that Black men's skincare remains largely ignored by the beauty industry.

    From dermatologists who misdiagnose and mishandle our common skin issues, like eczema and hyperpigmentation, to grooming companies failing to create products designed with us in mind, Black men are frequently left out of the skincare conversation.

    The other possibility could simply be that Black men aren't openly discussing the cosmetic treatments they're getting. In fact, that's one of the reasons I was motivated to try out tear trough filler for myself and share what I've learned.

    A photo of myself wearing a buttoned t-shirt
    Terry Carter Jr.

    Per recommendation from a close friend, I contacted Dr. Michelle Henry. She is a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon who has trained at Mount Sinai Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

    When I first spoke with Dr. Henry over the phone, I expressed my desire to show other men of color how filler can be used as a safe and effective solution for under-eye hollowness. After requesting a few photos, she agreed I was a good candidate for the treatment.

    "Tear trough deformity is [the medical term] for under-eye hollowness," Dr. Henry explained during my office visit.

    A right side profile of myself sitting on a treatment table wearing a hat
    Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan

    "During an initial consultation, I'm looking to see if it's just hollowing [and] if there are fat pads [under the eye]," she revealed. "I'm [also] looking to see if there are pigments or if there are shadows. If there's true pigment (Writer's note: This is also known as dark circles), filler alone may not get rid of it. If it's a combination of pigment and shadowing from being sunken, filler can do a good job."

    Dr. Henry went on to explain that tear trough filler is made of hyaluronic acid, "a complex sugar very similar to the one we naturally produce that diminishes with time." It's used to "introduce volume to an area that has lost volume and fat."

    A left side profile of myself sitting on a treatment table wearing a hat
    Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan

    "Tear trough filler is not permanent," Dr. Henry clarified. "It's not a procedure for everyone. It is a great, easy procedure for someone with a less complex tear trough." In her experience, "a lot of fat pad protrusion [under the eye] can make it more complex and harder to hide [under-eye hollows with filler]. It might make that person a better candidate for surgery."

    I asked if there was anything I could have done to prevent the sunken appearance, such as using eye creams, getting more sleep, or even drinking more water, but it turns out my tear trough deformity is likely caused by genetics and cannot be treated with any at-home or over-the-counter remedies.

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    "Creams are OK for lightening up dark [areas] or if you have fine wrinkles, like the wrinkles that you get with age. It can hydrate the skin and well-hydrated skin tends to look fluffier, but nothing topical [would correct under-eye hollowness]," Dr. Henry informed me.

    Questions aside, it was now time to begin the filler process. Dr. Henry's assistant applied a numbing cream directly to the areas that would be injected. Here's what I looked like:

    A close up photo of myself with a thick substance underneath my eyes
    Terry Carter Jr.

    To say I was nervous about the procedure is an understatement. I'd watched several YouTube videos about filler and many of the patients noted how swollen or bruised they looked afterward. And, although I do get Botox for my migraines, I have never pursued any cosmetic treatment for aesthetic purposes. 

    Luckily, Dr. Henry reassured me that everything would be performed safely and said that I could expect to see final results — with the possibility of minimal swelling and bruising — in no more than a week.

    Following the 30-minute numbing process, it was now time for Dr. Henry to administer the tear trough filler. Honestly, it wasn't painful at all!

    A photo of a needle syringe leaning on a medicine bottle
    Iryna Veklich / Getty Images

    I received 1 ml of Restylane filler under each eye and the injections felt like a tiny pinch. I could also feel the hyaluronic acid, which I'd describe as a gel-like substance, while it seeped underneath my skin. Overall, the thought of having a needle injected under my eyes was scarier than the actual process itself.

    Dr. Henry initially administered 0.5 ml and I'll admit, I didn't notice a huge difference. After a quick reassessment, she increased the amount of filler to 1 ml and I saw results immediately. Just look at the material:

    A close up photo of myself without under-eye hollowness
    Terry Carter Jr.

    "The number of syringes needed varies from person to person," Dr. Henry noted. "Sometimes [a person needs] filler just in the tear trough but sometimes [they] need filler in the mid-cheek because the mid-cheek can be quite sunken."

    "Every single patient is different," she said. "Some patients need less than two, some need less than one, some need more than two. But it all varies on that particular patient and their anatomy."

    The before-and-after photos truly blew my mind:

    Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan, Terry Carter Jr.

    Less than two hours later, the area underneath my eyes was smooth like butter!

    Terry Carter Jr.

    Here's a photo of me a few days after getting filler:

    A photo of myself wearing a hat and t-shirt
    Terry Carter Jr.

    Goodbye, sunken eyes ✌🏾!

    The aftercare was pretty simple, too. I applied this little bad boy* to my under-eye area for a few seconds for seven days to reduce potential swelling:

    A photo of a gel ice pack in my hand
    Terry Carter Jr.

    As previously mentioned, Dr. Henry did advise that I could experience some swelling and minimal bruising, which is typical with tear trough filler. To my surprise, I did not experience any side effects.

    I'm extremely satisfied with my results. I plan to get filler again once it wears off, which can take anywhere between "nine months and two years, according to how quickly your body absorbs the treatment," Dr. Henry said.

    A photo of myself swearing a sweater and key chain while lying on a couch
    Terry Carter Jr.

    💡Things to keep in mind when considering this procedure 💡:

    -The cost of tear trough filler can range from $900 to $2,200 (or more) and depends on how many syringes are needed. 

    -Insurance plans typically do not cover it. 

    -There's also a chance, as with anything, of complications. This includes discoloration underneath the eyes or overfilling, and happens when tear trough filler is administered by an unskilled practitioner. 

    I strongly advise doing a significant amount of research on your preferred practitioner and their facility before going in for this type of filler.

    In a follow-up call, I asked Dr. Henry why she thinks it's so uncommon for Black men to openly discuss getting cosmetic treatment. "There are phrases we use, like 'Black don't crack' and all these things, but that's not necessarily true," she stated.

    A photo of Dr. Henry smiling wearing a dress
    Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan

    "We don't age in the way that white people or people with really pale skin age, but we do age," she added. "And how we often age is exactly with the hollowness under the eyes."

    "It's one of the first places that [Black people] age, and has a little bit to do with the anatomy in our face," she continued. "Our mid faces can be a little bit flatter than white people. When we start to lose fat in our face, as we do naturally as we get older, there's not that structure to hold up that area. And so because of that, we can get a little bit of hollowness under the eye."

    "I think there's this idea that Black people aren't pursuing [cosmetic treatment] as much," she noted. "And although we're seeing it more now, there's [still] some shame in doing it because we're like, 'We don't need that. That's not what we do.' The truth is, we should be able to do whatever it is that anyone else does to feel good about ourselves."

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    Dr. Henry also acknowledged how stereotypes about gender could also prevent some Black people from "pursuing [cosmetic treatment] or feeling shame around wanting to do something to make themselves feel better."

    "It’s even more magnified in men," she said. "Whether we're talking about white men or Black men. Men, in general, are a smaller percentage of this dedication. Black men [specifically] are dealing with the conversations of 'Black don't crack' and 'men don't do this.' Which is also not true."

    "[Cosmetic treatment isn't] for men or for women, it's for people who want to be their best," she declared.

    "We're seeing more men wanting to [get treatment]. Men are staying in the workplace longer so they want to look better. They're realizing that all this gender nonsense is changing. The world is changing and these rigid boundaries around who does what and how they do it are changing. Social media is normalizing it, so we're starting to see men of all types and shades and colors [pursuing it]," she concluded.

    Obviously, I couldn't agree more!

    A photo of myself smiling wearing a dark t-shirt
    Terry Carter Jr.

    Writer's note: I received free tear trough filler for this story, but it did not affect my review of the treatment or overall process. My thoughts are honest and my own. Also, please be sure to check with your primary care physician or a licensed medical professional if you plan on pursuing tear trough filler as an option!