What are droopy eyebrows?

A woman who’s had an eyebrow liftAs people get older, the eyebrows can droop, which can make your eyes look more closed and the eyelids and eyebrows feel heavier.

In some cases, your surgeon may recommend a surgery to repair the droopy eyebrows.

Depending on your individual goals, your surgeon may also recommend surgery on the upper eyelids. These surgeries can be performed at the same time, and a combination of procedures may be recommended to achieve the desired result.  

Nonsurgical treatment options

Nonsurgical options to treat drooping eyebrows include a Botox® brow lift or injectable filler.

Your doctor may recommend surgery if over time, these options no longer give you the look you desire.

Eyebrow lift surgery

There are several different types of eyebrow lift surgeries that your surgeon may offer depending on your aesthetic and functional goals, as well as the level of invasiveness you’re comfortable with:

  • Direct brow lift: A cut is made right above the eyebrow to remove excess forehead skin, tightening the forehead and lifting the eyebrows. This procedure is typically only 20 minutes long and can be performed at an outpatient location under local anesthesia. The direct brow lift is great for those who want a quick option, men and women with fuller eyebrows and older patients. This brow lift option may not be recommended to those with thin eyebrows, as the scar can be more visible.
  • Temporal lift: The tail of the eyebrow is lifted through an incision along the side of the hairline. This option gives you a youthful arch to the brow; the natural arch tends to drop with aging.
  • Hairline brow lift: An incision is made along the hairline, pulling the forehead tight and removing excess skin. This procedure is recommended for people with larger, higher foreheads and typically heals well with the scar hidden in the hairline. Some patients report that their natural hairline may change after this procedure. A hairline brow lift takes a little more than one hour to complete and requires general anesthesia.
  • Endoscopic brow lift: In this procedure, a few small incisions are made in the hairline and a small, specialized camera (endoscope) is inserted to visualize the surgical space. Using this camera and special equipment, the forehead and eyebrows can be lifted. This procedure is not recommended for those with larger or “higher” foreheads. An endoscopic brow lift can take up to three hours and requires general anesthesia.

During eyebrow lift surgery

Depending on the type of surgery, you will either have an incision (cut) made directly above your eyebrow or high on your forehead. Forehead lifts are typically done under general anesthesia, while direct eyebrow lifts alone may be done under local anesthesia, depending on patient and surgeon preference.

Both are same-day surgeries that take anywhere from one to three hours to complete. After surgery, you will have scars, although our surgeons typically hide these incisions within pre-existing wrinkles or in your hairline to minimize their appearance. Regardless of where the incisions are placed, the scars they leave will fade over time.

After your surgery

After surgery, your skin may feel tight and sore. Your doctor can give you medication to help with pain and discomfort. Your doctor will also give you instructions on how often to ice the area to reduce swelling. Many of our patients take over-the-counter arnica or bromelain supplements to reduce the bruising.

Most people feel ready to resume their regular activities in about three days. However, bruising and swelling may persist for up to three weeks after surgery, so our surgeons advise that you don’t have any eyebrow lift procedures soon before an important social event.

For two weeks, you’ll have the following restrictions to reduce the risk of an infection:

  • Don’t use a sauna or go swimming
  • Don’t wear makeup, including eyeliner, eyeshadow, etc.
  • Don’t wear contact lenses

Be sure to keep your incisions clean and avoid rubbing the area. If your doctor closed your incisions with removable stitches, the stitches will be taken out in five to 10 days.

Is this covered by most insurance providers?

Eyebrow lift procedures are typically classified as cosmetic and not covered by most health insurance plans.

If the severity of your drooping eyebrows is starting to impede your field of vision, tests may be done to determine if your eyebrow lift is medically necessary and eligible to be covered by health insurance.

Why choose the Ohio State oculofacial team

When thinking about an eyebrow lift, it’s important to consider the proximity of the eyes and eyelids. With our oculofacial physicians, you can trust that your eye health and aesthetic goals will be taken into account, not just your forehead and eyebrows.

Often with a brow lift, eyelid or eye crease position can undergo shifting if the anatomy of the entire face is not taken into consideration beforehand. Our physicians also have in-depth knowledge of the cranial nerves of the face and eyes and can take the safest approaches to protect these nerves.

Our oculofacial physicians are the only specialized experts in the care, diagnosis, treatment and surgery for facial eye plastics at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Every member of our oculofacial team is board certified and has completed a two-year fellowship in eye plastics from the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. There are only 750 physicians in the world with this comprehensive training (data as of January 2023).

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