A brow lift, also commonly referred to as a forehead lift, is a surgical procedure performed to improve the appearance of the browline and forehead. A brow lift can elevate droopy brows and smooth deep forehead creases or lines between the eyebrows. These worry lines and creases can make patients look tired, angry, or older than they really are. Often, patients combine brow lifts with eyelid surgery to reduce sagging skin near the eyes, or a facelift to improve the appearance of the lower portion of the face.
Are You A Good Candidate?
Most patients who choose a brow lift are seeking to reverse the signs of aging such as visible forehead lines and sagging eyebrows. Overactive muscles and heredity can also play a role in the appearance of the forehead. These conditions may make you look fatigued or angry. In this case, you may benefit from a brow lift.
A good candidate for brow lift surgery is typically:
- In good overall health.
- Between 35 and 60 years old, although adults of any age are possible candidates.
- Have some skin elasticity, which helps the body adapt to its new contours.
- Realistic about what to expect.
You may NOT be a candidate if you are:
- Suffering from medical conditions making you unfit for surgery.
- Mentally unstable
Brow lifts are not an appropriate treatment for crow’s feet or bags under the eyelids as the procedure focuses on the brow line and the facial skin above this line. For this reason, some patients may opt for other cosmetic treatments to treat these conditions such as eyelid surgery or a face lift,
Surgical Options: Which is Best for You?
There are several types of brow lift techniques that primarily differ by the incision patterns. Incisions are generally placed along the hairline, behind the hairline, in the mid-forehead or above the brow. Some common types of brow lifts include:
|Direct Brow Lift:||This method is commonly used to treat brow ptosis and typically done on older patients or those who have very thick eyebrows that will hide the incision.|
|Endoscopic Brow Lift:||The technique is performed through a small tube with a camera that allows the surgeon to use a smaller incision line. Typically, the incision is located either within the wrinkles of the forehead or behind the hairline. This method is usually chosen when there is not a lot of excess skin to remove, as this is more difficult to accomplish with the smaller incisions. Endoscopic brow lifts are one of the more popular techniques used today because they are associated with a shorter recovery period, less post-surgery discomfort, and less visible scarring than traditional open brow lifts.|
|Endoscopic with Suture Suspension:||In addition to being performed endoscopically, permanent sutures are used to suspend the muscles and tissues in a higher position of the brow.|
|Full Coronal Technique:||Also known as an open forehead lift, this technique allows the most access, which means that the surgeon can create the most dramatic changes. This requires an incision placed behind the hairline from one ear to the other. The downside is that it carries the possibility of a longer scar. Patients with hair loss may find that the scar is more noticeable as it is not concealed behind the hairline.|
|Pretrichial or Subcutaneous Brow lift:||Ideal for candidates wanting to lift the eyebrows and shorten the forehead.|
|Lateral or Temporal brow lift:||Incisions are made a the temples behind the hairline. The approach is often used to correct folds and small wrinkles on the forehead and corners of the eyes. This method is considered a tension lift and can also be used to lift the cheeks.|
|Temporal brow lift with suture:||Similar to the lateral / temporal lift, however this technique uses sutures to suspend the tissue and muscles.|
|Non-invasive brow lift:||There are various non-surgical options available. These include the use ultrasound energy (Ultherapy) to stimulate collagen growth or injectable fillers like Botox to lift the eyebrows.|
Important Safety Information
There are some potential risks associated with brow lift surgery that should be discussed with your surgeon beforehand. Some of these include:
- Anesthesia complications
- Nerve damage
- Skin irregularities and discoloration
- Temporary hair loss around area of incision
- Prolonged swelling
- Facial asymmetry
- Dry eye or irritation
- Eyelid disorders
- Possible revision surgery
Be sure to speak with your surgeon about all the potential risks before moving forward with surgery.
What to Expect During Your Recovery Time
The type of brow lift procedure you undergo will play some role in the recovery, as well as the symptoms you can expect. In general, an endoscopic technique is associated with a faster brow lift recovery time and fewer symptoms than an open or classic brow lift. On the other hand, the open brow lift allows the surgeon to more dramatically alter your appearance, so there is a trade-off.
After the procedure, patients must keep their head elevated for several days. This will require sleeping with several pillows behind you. Doing so is essential for a fast brow lift recovery time and minimized swelling. In addition to swelling, other side effects commonly experienced by patients include tenderness, bruising, redness, itching, tingling, or numbness. Any discomfort can be managed with pain medication. The bruising may spread to your cheeks or eyes, sometimes giving patients the appearance of “black eyes.” These symptoms usually subside within a week of surgery.
If your surgical incisions required sutures, they will be removed a week or two following your procedure. Although sutures are required for most open brow lift patients, they may not be needed for some endoscopic procedures. Most patients also have surgical gauze, tape, or bandages that must be worn over the forehead and brows for the first few days. The surgeon may also need to place a drain, or small tube, in the surgical site to drain any excess fluid. Follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding post-operative care, including changing bandages, applying ointment, or any other necessary tasks.
Tips to Reduce Swelling after Surgery
Many brow lift recovery patients find that swelling obscures the full results of their surgery for several weeks. While swelling is normal after any surgical procedure, there are ways to reduce swelling so that your recovery period is shorter and you are able to see the results of your brow lift sooner. Here are a few tips to reduce swelling after a brow lift:
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Maintain a healthy diet that is low in sodium
- Get plenty of rest – don’t try to resume your daily activities too quickly
- Keep the head elevated, especially while sleeping
- Avoid taking medications that may prolong swelling. Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking.
Post-surgery garments for brow lift patients come in several forms. After surgery, your forehead may be wrapped in gauze or bandages, or it may be taped to hold the tissues into place. Some patients wear an elastic compression garment, similar to a headband, over the treated area. Such a surgical garment can help to control swelling and allows the tissues of the forehead time to adapt to their new contours. Held firmly against your forehead, the loose skin is able to heal without sagging.
Getting Back to Your Daily Routine
Most patients return to work and their normal activity level about a week after surgery. Many endoscopic brow lift patients return even sooner. It is important to return to your daily activities gradually. Although you will be able to move normally, including showering and other daily activities, within a week of the surgery, rigorous activity should be avoided for several weeks. This includes exercise as well as any activity that is likely to increase your blood pressure.
Most of the side effects of a brow lift should disappear within a few weeks. Many patients comment that they did not realize how much their sagging brow or deep forehead creases were contributing to an angry or worn-out facial expression until seeing their new and refreshed appearance.
How Much Does it Cost?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average surgeon’s fee for a brow lift in the United States is approximately $3,092. This fee does not include several other costs, such as the anesthesia and the facility fee, which bring the total brow lift cost to about $5,000. Before undergoing a brow lift / forehead lift or any cosmetic procedure, it is important to understand the costs involved to be sure that there will be no hidden surprises. Some surgeons will only quote you their fee, not the total expense. Prior to undergoing the procedure, you’ll need to know the total brow lift cost.
The Fees Involved with Surgery
There are three basic fees involved in a brow lift procedure. First, the facility fee pays for the hospital or outpatient surgical procedure where your surgery is performed. Next, the anesthesia fee pays for the general anesthetic that is required for patients undergoing a brow lift. Finally, the surgeon’s fee is the amount charged by the surgeon who is performing your brow lift. In addition to these three fees, there are some miscellaneous expenses which may need to be paid separately. These can include items such as medical tests, medications, and post-surgical supplies that you will need during the recovery after brow lift surgery. Ask your surgeon for a complete breakdown of the cost of the brow lift before scheduling the procedure.
Other Factors Affecting Pricing
There are many variables affecting the amount of each of these fees, which makes it difficult to estimate at the total brow lift cost without knowing all of the details of the situation. Location is a major factor when it comes to the price of surgery. Procedures tend to be more expensive in major cities than in less populated areas. Even within the same metropolitan area, different surgical facilities may have vastly different fee structures.
In addition to these general factors, your specific situation can also affect the price of your brow lift. While most brow lifts are performed as outpatient procedures, if you require an overnight stay in the hospital, you can expect your brow lift cost to become more expensive. In addition, the same surgeon may charge different fees for endoscopic and open brow lifts, or base the fee on the complexity of the procedure. A longer surgical time almost always means an increased fee, while a shorter and simpler brow lift will be the least expensive option.
The surgeon’s fee is based not only on your procedure, but also on the surgeon’s experience level. A highly qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon with many years of experience is able to command a higher fee than his less experienced counterpart. However, this can be well worth the additional cost. An experienced surgeon is able to choose the most appropriate techniques for your situation and reduce the risk of complications. Never choose a surgeon based solely on cost, or you may not get the results you desire.
Covered by Insurance?
Like most forms of cosmetic surgery, brow lifts are not typically covered by health insurance. The only exception is if sagging brows are interfering with your vision or otherwise negatively impacting your health. Otherwise, you will probably be paying out of pocket for your brow lift procedure. However, don’t despair if you do not have the savings to cover your procedure. Many surgeons offer affordable financing options such as monthly payment plans. If cost is an issue for you, be sure to ask the surgeon about payment options during the consultation visit. There is no reason to avoid undergoing a brow lift solely because of the cost.
How to Choose Your Surgeon
When researching surgeons, make sure they are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) or other established association such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) or American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (ASOPRS).
A membership in any of these societies does not guarantee a successful result, however most certifying boards like these require extensive medical training, experience, and rigorous surgical education which can ensure that the most appropriate techniques are used for your brow lift surgery while reducing the risk of complications.
- Brow Lift: Author: Jorge I de la Torre, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Zubin J Panthaki, MD, CM, FACS, FRCSC
- Direct Brow Lift Procedures: Author: Daniel N Ronel, MD, FAAP, FACS; Chief Editor: Zubin J Panthaki, MD, CM, FACS, FRCSC
- ASPS: Brow Lift Safety and Risks (n.d.)