What is a brow lift?
A brow lift is a cosmetic surgical procedure that repositions your forehead to raise the brow, reduce wrinkles and give you a more youthful appearance.
As you age, your skin loses elasticity. The accumulated effect of sun damage weakens skin and gravity pulls your brow down, which causes wrinkles. On your forehead, you may have “frown lines” between your eyebrows that make you look serious or angry. You may also develop horizontal lines. The outside of your brow may sag, which makes you look sad or tired because of drooping eyebrows. If you’re looking to correct these natural changes to your body, a brow lift might be right for you.
Other names for a brow lift are:
- Forehead lift.
- Forehead rejuvenation.
- Temporal brow lift (lateral brow lift).
What does a brow lift do?
A brow lift procedure corrects:
- Creases or wrinkles in your forehead, the horizontal lines across your forehead and on the bridge of your nose.
- Vertical frown lines between your eyebrows, also known as the “11s.”
- Sagging eyebrows (hooded eyes) to make your eyebrows look more youthful and awake.
Will a brow lift change my eye shape?
No, a brow lift won’t change the shape of your eyes or fix baggy eyelids. A brow lift will affect your eyebrows and forehead.
Who is a candidate for a brow lift?
You may be a candidate for a brow lift if you:
- Are physically healthy.
- Are a nonsmoker.
- Have realistic goals about the outcome of the surgery.
Your healthcare provider will go over your complete medical history and discuss your goals for the procedure to see if you’re a candidate for a brow lift.
Can I get multiple cosmetic procedures done at the same time as a brow lift?
Yes, you can have multiple cosmetic procedures performed at the same time as a brow lift. You can get the following procedures done at the same time as a brow lift:
- Mini facelift.
- Neck lift.
- Skin resurfacing.
- Upper or lower eyelid surgery.
How common is a brow lift?
There are over 88,000 brow lift procedures performed in the United States each year. While the procedure is most common among women and people assigned female at birth, men and people assigned male at birth account for less than 10% of all brow lift procedures in the U.S.
What are the types of brow lift procedures?
There are three different types of brow lift procedures:
- The classic lift, called an “open brow lift” or “coronal lift,” involves one continuous incision, from ear to ear across the top of your head. To correct a high forehead, your surgeon might recommend the incision follow your frontal hairline. If your hair is longer and will get in the way of the procedure, you may have to trim it. If your hair is shorter, you may want to grow it out to cover any scars.
- The endoscopic lift involves a few shorter incisions in your scalp. Your surgeon inserts a scope (a thin tube attached to a camera) into one of the incisions to view your tissues and muscles on a screen while using another device inserted in another incision to make the necessary alterations. In this procedure, your surgeon will adjust your tissue with either a temporary or permanent stitch or anchor below your scalp. These anchors are designed to keep your tissue in place. Because the incisions are smaller, this procedure is less invasive. You’ll experience minimal scarring and a shorter recovery time.
- The limited incision technique is a combination of the classic lift and the endoscopic lift. Your surgeon makes smaller incisions but they won’t use a scope. The procedure doesn’t correct the center of your forehead but it reduces wrinkles at the corners of your eyes (crow’s feet).
Your provider will discuss each type of brow lift procedure they recommend to meet your goals to help you choose what’s best.
Is there a nonsurgical brow lift?
A nonsurgical brow lift procedure uses Botox® (botulinum toxin) or another brand of injections to smooth out wrinkles on your forehead. Nonsurgical brow lift options are available if you want to improve your appearance, but prefer to avoid surgery, long recovery times and scarring. For the procedure, your provider will inject the medicine in between your eyebrows and at the corners of your eyebrows.
A brow lift such as this offers some of the same benefits as a surgical brow lift, including:
- Reduces wrinkles.
- Elevates the height of your eyebrows.
- Reshapes your eyebrows.
- Makes you look younger.
However, these injections aren’t permanent and you’ll need repeat treatments several times a year to keep your results.
What happens before a brow lift procedure?
Before your brow lift procedure, your healthcare provider will:
- Evaluate your forehead region.
- Have you make a variety of facial expressions to see all of your wrinkles and lines.
- Discuss your options for types of brow lift procedures to meet your goals.
- Examine your overall health.
- Take photographs of your brows and forehead.
- Discuss the outcomes, potential complications and risks of the surgery.
What questions should I ask my provider before my brow lift procedure?
Feel free to ask questions during your brow lift consultation so you’re 100% sure of what to expect. Consider asking some or all of the following questions before your procedure:
- How can I get the best results?
- How will you perform the procedure?
- How long will it take me to recover?
- What are the risks?
- What will I look like one year from now? Five years? Ten years?
- What can I do if I don’t like the outcome?
- Where will I have scars?
What should I do to prepare for a brow lift procedure?
Before your brow lift procedure, your surgeon will tell you everything you need to know before the surgery. Some of their preoperative instructions may include:
- Stop smoking at least six weeks before the surgery.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Avoid taking certain medicines like aspirin.
- Grow your hair out to cover your scars.
- Have a driver ready to take you home after your procedure.
- Have someone available to take care of you during your first night and day following surgery.
Is a brow lift an inpatient or outpatient procedure?
Your brow lift will be an outpatient procedure. Usually, you won’t need to stay overnight in a hospital.
What happens during a brow lift procedure?
During your brow lift procedure, you’ll receive anesthesia so you won’t feel any pain. Depending on the type of brow lift procedure, you could receive either local anesthesia to numb the area of your forehead where your provider will perform the procedure or general anesthesia that puts you to sleep.
Once the anesthetic kicks in, your surgeon will cut into your skin at your hairline. They’ll move your tissue and remove segments of muscles and skin that cause wrinkles or deep frown lines.
Your surgeon will close the incisions with stitches or staples. They’ll wrap your surgical site with padding and bandages to protect your stitches.
A brow lift surgery can take between one to three hours.
Is a brow lift painful?
You won’t experience pain during a brow lift procedure because your surgeon will use an anesthetic. After your procedure, you could experience bruising, skin tightness and swelling. Your surgical site may be tender or sore as you heal.
What happens after a brow lift procedure?
After your brow lift procedure, you’ll go into a recovery area until you wake up from the anesthetic or where you’ll wait for a short amount of time to make sure there aren’t any complications. Once your provider says that it’s OK, you may go home. You’ll need someone to take you home, as you won’t be able to operate a vehicle safely after your surgery.
Your surgeon will give you instructions on how you should take care of yourself after your brow lift procedure, which could include:
- How to manage your surgical site.
- What medications or over-the-counter pain relievers to use to ease pain or soreness as you heal.
- How to reduce swelling, like keeping your head elevated or using cool packs around your surgical site as instructed (not directly on top of your forehead).
- How long you should rest and avoid physical activities.
Your surgeon will let you know what you should look out for if there are any complications as you heal. They’ll also schedule a follow-up appointment to make sure your body is healing as it should.
Risks / Benefits
What are the advantages of a brow lift procedure?
Advantages of getting a brow lift include:
- Improve the appearance of your forehead and, ultimately, your entire face.
- Raise your eyebrows to make you look younger and more awake.
- Remove wrinkles and excess, droopy skin from your forehead.
- Minimize the tired and angry look on your face.
What are the risks or complications of a brow lift procedure?
There are potential risks with any type of surgery, including a brow lift. Possible complications from a brow lift surgery could include:
- Limited movement of your eyebrows.
- Intense scalp itchiness.
- Bad reaction to anesthesia.
- Hair follicle loss around the incisions.
Does a brow lift cause scars?
Yes, a brow lift does cause scars. Your surgeon will do their best to hide the scars either at your hairline or in your hair. If you’re concerned about scarring, talk to your provider about a noninvasive type of brow lift.
Recovery and Outlook
What can I expect as I recover from a brow lift procedure?
After your brow lift procedure, the way that you recover will vary based on the type of brow lift you had.
Your surgeon will close your incisions with stitches or staples that will either dissolve or need removed after one or two weeks.
It’s common and normal to have bruising and swelling on your forehead and face.
For at least two days after surgery, you should keep your head elevated to reduce swelling. This includes when you sleep. The swelling will go down within two weeks but it may take several weeks for all of it to go away. Cool packs (not ice) help with swelling. Don’t place cool packs directly on your forehead. Instead, place them on the side of your face to avoid irritating your surgery site.
Your provider will instruct you when it’s safe to remove your bandages, which is usually one to three days after surgery. You could experience numbness or a tingling sensation during the first few days after your surgery, but this usually fades over time.
What is the recovery time for a brow lift?
Most people who receive a brow lift can return to work or school within 10 to 14 days. The timeline for your recovery varies and depends on the type of procedure you had and the type of activity you’re planning to return to. During your recovery, avoid heavy lifting, rigorous exercise or strenuous physical activities for a few weeks after surgery.
When will I see the results of a brow lift?
It may take up to six months for your forehead to completely heal after a brow lift procedure. You’ll be able to see the results of your surgery once your body completely heals. Your surgeon will schedule follow-up appointments during your healing time to make sure the surgery was successful.
How long does a brow lift last?
A brow lift is a permanent cosmetic procedure and the results could last a lifetime. It’s possible to see the results of your brow lift fade as you age. This happens because your skin loses strength and elasticity as you get older, which makes wrinkles reappear. After a brow lift, your wrinkles can return but they won’t be as deep or severe.
You can improve the longevity of your brow lift by wearing sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays that can damage your skin and cause wrinkles.
When to Call the Doctor
When should I see my healthcare provider?
Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have:
- A fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.77 degrees Celsius).
- Excessive swelling that doesn’t resolve.
- Bleeding from your surgical site.
- Severe pain.
- Any visual changes.
What’s the difference between a brow lift and blepharoplasty?
While both a brow lift and blepharoplasty are cosmetic procedures on your face, each procedure corrects different areas of your face.
A brow lift is a procedure that repositions your forehead to correct wrinkles and sagging eyebrows.
A blepharoplasty procedure is a surgery to remove excess skin, muscle or tissue from your eyelids. It corrects droopy eyelids or bagginess underneath your eyes.
Depending on your goals of cosmetic surgery, your surgeon could offer both procedures.
What is a thread brow lift?
A thread brow lift is a minimally invasive type of facelift surgery to tighten your skin. This procedure uses thin and dissolvable barbed stitches (threads) underneath your skin to pull your skin back and tighten it. Your body reacts to the threads and increases your body’s production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that gives your skin strength and support to fill in wrinkles. A thread brow lift is done on your forehead to reduce existing wrinkles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
You may have a lot to consider before undergoing a brow lift procedure, especially what type of brow lift you should get to meet your goals. You’re not alone when you make these decisions. Your healthcare provider is available to answer any questions you might have about the surgery and how it will affect your appearance. While a brow lift is a permanent procedure, it doesn’t stop future wrinkles from forming on your forehead, but it can make future wrinkles less apparent.
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