What is Brow Lift Surgery?

A brow lift, also commonly called a forehead lift, rejuvenates the face above the eyes to restore a more refreshed appearance that better reflects a patient’s natural vibrance. By removing excess sagging, skin on the forehead and repositioning the underlying muscles and tissues, a brow lift can correct a heavy, sagging brow, eliminate deep furrows, and restore a smoother, more youthful contour to the upper one-third of the face.

Why Have a Brow Lift?

The problem with an aging forehead is the effect it has on our facial expressions—a sagging, heavily furrowed brow can cause us to look constantly tired, worried or even angry. Some of us are also genetically inclined to have a heavier, thicker brow, making us look as though we are wearing a frown even when we are feeling our best. A brow lift directly addresses these issues, helping patients enjoy a more naturally refreshed appearance as well as other positive changes:

  • Others may find you more approachable, as they no longer mistakenly perceive you as angry or concerned
  • Your eyes will appear brighter and more naturally alert
  • Self-confidence can improve as you are no longer worried about looking “worried”

Choosing a Cosmetic Surgeon

Beautiful, natural results with brow lift surgery require a cosmetic surgeon with a thorough knowledge of facial anatomy and a keen eye for aesthetic detail. Just as important is the ability to adjust one’s surgical techniques to create results that respect a patient’s ethnicity, age, gender, and unique facial features.

When consulting with potential cosmetic surgeons, ask about their specific training and experience in facial cosmetic surgery. Look at before and after photos, paying particular attention to patients who look similar to you. While results will be individualized, a cosmetic surgeon’s past work is the best indicator of his or her aesthetic style. If you are male, your surgeon should have experience performing brow lifts for male patients, as brow lift techniques need to be tailored to preserve a naturally masculine appearance.

Consider the advantages of choosing a surgeon certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. Board certified cosmetic surgeons are fellowship trained in all aspects of cosmetic surgery, including brow lift techniques, and choosing an ABCS surgeon ensures that your procedure will take place in an accredited surgical facility that upholds the highest standards for safety. Get helpful tips on choosing a cosmetic surgeon.

Types of Brow Lift Surgery

Cosmetic surgeons use different techniques for brow lift surgery; which is best for any given patient depends on a patient’s goals, unique anatomy, and the extent of corrections needed to achieve the desired results.

Endoscopic Brow Lift

Increasingly, cosmetic surgeons are using the endoscopic method for brow lift surgery, which is much less invasive than previous techniques, yet can often achieve an equally desirable result. For an endoscopic brow lift, your cosmetic surgeon will make a series of very short incisions (about ¾” in length) just behind the hairline. Then, using a special tiny camera and thin instruments, he or she will reposition the muscles and lift underlying tissues of the forehead, removing excess fat and tissue as needed to create a naturally more youthful brow.

Temporal or Limited Incision Brow Lift

A temporal brow lift involves slightly longer incisions than an endoscopic brow lift and is most commonly performed in conjunction with eyelid surgery. Incisions about 1 inch long are made just above each temple, behind the hairline. Through these incisions, your cosmetic surgeon will lift and reposition the tissues of the outer brow area. Then, through the incisions made for an upper eyelid procedure, the area between the eyebrows is lifted to smooth out frown lines.

Classic or Coronal Brow Lift

Once the standard technique, the coronal brow lift has generally fallen out of fashion, as well-qualified cosmetic surgeons are typically able to make needed improvements with less invasive techniques. In certain cases, however, a coronal brow lift may be necessary to achieve a patient’s desired results. This technique involves one long incision made behind the hairline, running from ear to ear. Excess skin, fat and tissue are removed and the remaining skin and brow muscles are repositioned into a more youthful appearance.

Brow Lift Surgery & Recovery

Brow lift surgery is an outpatient procedure, performed using general anesthesia or intravenous sedation with local anesthesia. The duration of surgery depends on the type of brow lift as well as whether or not another procedure is being performed at the same time. Your incisions may be closed with sutures or staples, which are typically removed about 1 week after surgery.

Patients typically experience very little pain after a brow lift, but it is common to feel slight discomfort as well as a sensation of tightness throughout the forehead. Swelling and bruising are most common during the first 10 days or so after surgery, and are mostly resolved after about 2 weeks.

The timeline for resuming activity after a brow lift depends on the individual—if you are having a brow lift alone, recovery is usually much quicker than that for a patient having a brow lift in conjunction with a facelift or other more extensive procedure. Below are typical recovery milestones following brow lift surgery:

  • Day of surgery: walking around the house in encouraged.
  • 1 to 2 days after surgery: showering is permitted; be gentle around your incision sites.
  • 1 week after surgery: return to a sedentary job; some patients are able to return to work earlier. You may tire more easily, so consider a limited work schedule initially. If you are concerned about visible bruising, your cosmetic surgeon can recommend options for camouflage makeup.
  • 1 to 2 weeks after surgery: resume driving, as long as you have full mobility and are no longer taking prescription pain medication.
  • 2 to 4 weeks after surgery: gradually resume exercise; your cosmetic surgeon will provide guidance for which activities are allowed.

Brow Lift vs. Eyelid Lift vs. Facelift

When it comes to facial cosmetic surgery, it can be difficult to know which procedure you really need to optimally address the signs of aging that are affecting you. If you have sagging, hollowed cheeks and eyelid bags, do you need a facelift or an eyelid lift? If you have a tired, concerned appearance, will an eyelid lift or a brow lift help you the most?

While the best way to find out the most appropriate procedure or procedures for you is to discuss your concerns with an experienced, qualified cosmetic surgeon, it may help to associate each facial procedure with a certain area of aging:

Of course, these are general areas that each facial procedure will address; your cosmetic surgeon may employ techniques from one or more of these procedures to address your unique concerns.

Will the results of brow lift surgery last?

When performed by an experienced, board certified cosmetic surgeon, the improvements made with brow lift surgery will last for many years to come. However, nothing can stop the normal aging process, and eventually your forehead tissues will begin to settle with time and gravity. You can help keep your results looking their best by living a healthy lifestyle. Wear sunscreen daily, eat a diet rich in whole foods and vitamins, and don’t smoke. This will help keep your body healthy and skin looking its best.

If you are bothered by the effects of an aging forehead on your appearance and self-confidence, we encourage you to consult with a board certified cosmetic surgeon to learn more about your options for brow lift surgery. You can use our ABCS Find-a-Surgeon tool to find cosmetic surgeons in your area.