Brow Lift

Overview

What is a brow lift (forehead lift)?

With time and gravity come wrinkles that may appear all over your face – including your brow/forehead. You may have “frown lines” between your eyebrows that make you look serious or angry, the outside of your brow may sag which makes you look sad and you may look extra tired because of drooping eyebrows and eyelids. If you want to look younger, happier and awake, then a brow lift might be right for you.

A surgical brow lift is a cosmetic procedure also known as a forehead lift, forehead rejuvenation, browplasty or temporal lift. The procedure corrects:

  • Creases in the forehead. Including the horizontal lines across your forehead and on the bridge of your nose.
  • Frown lines between your eyebrows.
  • Sagging eyebrows. Your eyebrows will look more youthful.

How often is this procedure performed? How common is it?

Thousands of brow lifts are performed every year.

Who can have a brow lift?

Not everyone is a good candidate for a brow lift. You may be if you meet qualifications, including:

  • You’re physically healthy.
  • You’re a nonsmoker.
  • You have realistic goals about your looks.

Is a brow lift (forehead lift) an inpatient or outpatient procedure?

Outpatient. Usually you will not need to stay overnight.

Does a brow lift change eye shape?

A brow lift will affect your eyebrows, but it won’t change the shape of your eyes, erase crow’s feet or fix baggy eyelids.

Are there other procedures that may be performed at the same time?

Some people decide to do multiple procedures at the same time for the sake of efficiency. You can get the following procedures done at the same time as a brow lift:

  • Facelift.
  • Skin resurfacing.
  • Upper or lower eyelid surgery.

Does a brow lift cause scars?

Yes, but your surgeon will do their best to hide the scars either at the hairline or actually in your hair.

Procedure Details

What should I know before my brow lift surgery?

Your surgeon will do the following to prepare for your procedure, including:

  • Evaluating your forehead region, including your upper eyelids.
  • Having you make a variety of facial expressions to see all of the wrinkles and lines.
  • Discussing your options.
  • Evaluating your general health.
  • Taking photographs.
  • Discussing likely outcomes of the surgery.
  • Discussing complications and risks.

Be sure to ask a lot of questions during your consultation. You’ll want to be 100% sure of what to expect. Consider asking some or all of the following questions:

  • What makes me a good candidate for this procedure?
  • What will be expected of me to 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? Ten?
  • What can I do if I don’t like the outcome?
  • Can I look at before-and-after photos?
  • Where will the scars be located?

Your surgeon will tell you everything you need to know before the procedure. Some of his or her preoperative instructions may include:

  • Stop smoking at least six weeks before the surgery.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Avoid certain medicines like aspirin.
  • You may want to grow your hair out in order to cover scars.
  • Have a driver ready to take you home.
  • Have someone take care of you your first night and day following surgery.
  • Get ice packs or frozen vegetables. Cold will help reduce the swelling.

What are the types of brow lift procedures?

There are three methods to lift the forehead and eyebrow areas: the classic lift, endoscopic lift and the limited incision.

  • The classic lift, sometimes called an “open brow lift” or “coronal lift,” involves one continuous incision, from ear to ear across the top of the head. To correct a high forehead, the surgeon might recommend the incision follow the frontal hair line. 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. Discuss all this with your surgeon.
  • In the endoscopic lift, the surgeon makes a few shorter incisions in the scalp. He or she inserts a scope (a thin tube attached to a camera) into one of the incisions in order to view the tissues and muscles from a screen while using another device inserted in another incision to make the necessary alterations. In this procedure, the tissue will be anchored either with a temporary or permanent stitch or anchor below the scalp. These anchors will keep the tissue under control for years. Because the incisions are smaller, this procedure is less invasive. You will experience minimal scarring and shorter recovery time.
  • The limited incision technique is a combination of the other two types. Smaller incisions are made, but a scope isn’t used. The procedure doesn’t correct the center of the forehead, but reduces wrinkles in the corners of your eyes (crow’s feet).

How long does the procedure last?

Your surgery will take approximately one to three hours.

How is the procedure performed?

Your surgeon will cut into your skin at the hairline or in the hair. He or she will maneuver tissues and remove segments of muscles and skin that cause wrinkles or deep frown lines. The incisions will then be closed with stitches or staples. When you wake up you’ll be wrapped with sterile padding and bandages.

Will I be asleep during the brow lift (forehead lift)?

You may get local anesthesia, sedation, or the anesthesiologist will give you a general anesthetic, which puts you to sleep.

What should I expect after the procedure?

After the surgery you’ll go into a recovery area to be watched. You may go home or spend the night, depending on the surgeon’s preference. There will be rules to follow when you go home, including:

  • Use medication to help with the pain.
  • Take care of the incisions.
  • Watch out for complications.

See the “Recovery and Outlook” section for more details.

Risks / Benefits

What are the advantages of a brow lift?

A brow lift will improve the look of not just your forehead, but your entire face. It will raise your eyebrows, making you appear younger and awake. You’ll look inviting, happy and friendly.

What are the risks or complications of this procedure?

Like any surgery, brow lift surgery has some risks. Possible complications include:

  • Poor scarring.
  • Infection.
  • Weakness of the brow movement.
  • Intense scalp itch.
  • Bad reaction to anesthesia.
  • Bleeding.
  • Allergic reactions.

Recovery and Outlook

What should I expect after brow lift surgery?

Your recovery is going to vary depending upon whether you had a classic, endoscopic or limited incision procedure. Your incisions will have stitches or staples that need to be removed in about a week. If you have temporary fixation screws (installed to hold the elevated brow in place during initial healing), these will be removed in about two weeks.

You will probably have swelling and bruising, which can affect other parts of your face, including your cheeks and eyes. This is normal.

For at least two days following surgery, you should keep your head elevated to lessen the swelling. This includes when you sleep. The swelling will go down enough within the first two weeks for you to feel comfortable in public. It may take several weeks for all of the swelling to go away. Cold packs help with swelling.

Remove the bandages after one to three days (confirm the exact amount of time with your surgeon.

You may also experience numbness or tingling, but that will go away over time.

Most patients can return to work or school within 10 days, some sooner, depending on which procedure is used. Driving is permitted two or three weeks after surgery as long as you’re confident that you can respond quickly. You should be sure to avoid heavy lifting, vigorous exercise, or other activity for the first few weeks after surgery.

Is a brow lift painful?

You’ll experience bruising, tightness and swelling after the procedure, which may be painful.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for people who have a brow lift?

It may take six months to see the final result of the surgery.

How effective is a brow lift?

A brow lift is semi-permanent in that the wrinkles may return with time, but they’ll never be as wide and deep as they were before the surgery.

Remember that a brow lift won’t fix sagging eyelids. That requires a different procedure called a blepharoplasty, but both can be done at the same time. Talk to your surgeon about the possibility of doing multiple procedures at one time.

What is the recovery time?

The swelling should go down within the first two weeks, but it make take several for it to go away completely. Ten days is the average time before you can return to work or school.

Is a brow lift permanent?

Aging continues. Your wrinkles will – eventually – return, but they should never be as severe again. You can help extend that youthful look by practicing a healthy lifestyle including wearing sunscreen.

When to Call the Doctor

When should I contact a healthcare provider?

Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have a fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, excessive swelling, or bleeding.

Additional Details

How much does a brow lift cost?

The cost of a brow lift depends on several factors. Different surgeons charge different prices. The cost can also change depending on the geographic location and on what brow lift technique is performed.

In 2019 the average cost was about $3500. But, there will likely be additional costs for the anesthesia, medical tests, surgical garments, prescriptions, operating room and other expenses. Confirm the final cost with your plastic surgeon’s office.

Will my insurance cover a brow lift (forehead lift)?

Under most circumstances, a forehead lift is considered an elective cosmetic procedure and is not covered under insurance plans. However, you should still check with your insurance company to find out for sure. Surgery to correct a sagging forehead that’s blocking your vision may be an exception.

Your plastic surgeon may offer a finance plan. Be sure to ask about all of your options.

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Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/16/2020.

References

  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons. . Accessed 11/10/2020.Brow Lift: Forehead Lift (http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/brow-lift.html)
  • American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. . Accessed 11/10/2020.Brow Lift (http://www.smartbeautyguide.com/procedures/head-face/brow-lift)
  • American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. . Accessed 11/10/2020.Forehead and Brow Lift (https://www.aafprs.org/Consumers/Procedures/Facial_Rejuvenation/Forehead_Lift/AAFPRS/Procedures/Facial-Rejuvenation/Forehead_and_Brow_Lift.aspx?hkey=7d580da2-eff3-4b09-a56d-dd71d402aaba)
  • Zoumalan R, Leventhal D, White W. Chapter 73. The Aging Face: Rhytidectomy, Browlift, Midface Lift. In: Lalwani AK, ed. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment in Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2012. Accessed 11/10/2020.

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