Wilma Lewis, after surgery
Tampa, Florida -- Tired, exhausted, sad. Wilma Lewis' eyes told a different story than what was really going on inside.
"I have been told for years, my bags are always packed," the 68-year-old told 10 Connects.
Lewis developed a common condition called festoons, or what many of us may refer to as "bags under the eyes." The appearance was made worse after an upper eyelid surgery about 10 years ago.
She says her doctor, Dr. Adam Scheiner, told her she should try a specialized laser he had recently developed, but she elected not to do it at the time.
"It just got worse over time," she said.
While an exact cause of festoons is not known, many doctors believe aging and the sun play a major role in their formation.
For Lewis, the festoons were more than just a cosmetic issue.
"When I bent my head down reading my newspaper every day, bags were in my way. I'd put my make-up on and leave to go some place and I wouldn't get a block from my house and the make-up was all over my eye glasses," she explained.
Lewis says she tried everything to get rid of the extra baggage.
"I'd wake up at 4 a.m. and I'd make myself an ice pack and I would put it on my face," she said, "I have tried just about everything there is on the market to no avail. It did no good," she said.
She went back to Dr. Scheiner of the Tampa Eye Clinic in December to give his laser a try. She says the procedure has changed her life.
"I'm not embarrassed in the public anymore. I've had people tell me how nice I look," she said.
Dr. Scheiner says he's the first in only doctor in Florida to use the laser resurfacing treatment he helped develop to get rid of the festoons.
"I want people to know they don't have to suffer with these things," he said.
In the last 10 years, Dr. Scheiner says he's performed more than one thousand procedures.
"The laser actually works by finding the water in the tissue and taking the layers down layer by layer and then what happens, the body grows skin all over again and when it does, all of the old sun damaged skin is gone," he explained.
For Lewis, the results were dramatic.
"My granddaughter told my son, 'Oh, she looks so much younger,'" she said, "My glasses fit better, they're not sliding down. My make-up is not coating my glasses."
"I'm sorry I waited 10 years," she said.
Dr. Scheiner attributes about half of the results to a specialized healing protocol he also developed which includes frequent follow ups and washes.
Dr. Scheiner says insurance does not often cover the procedure, which runs about $3,000 and can be permanent if people stay out of the sun.
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Laura Kadechka, 10 Connects