What is a brow lift?

A brow lift — also called a forehead lift — is a cosmetic surgery procedure that lifts sagging brows and treats lines and wrinkles across the forehead. Brow lift surgery can also help diminish vertical furrows (frown lines) between your eyebrows and the horizontal crease that can develop between your eyes atop the bridge of your nose.

At The Ohio State University Wexner Medical in Columbus, our plastic surgery team consists of doctors with advanced education, training and experience in all types of plastic and reconstructive surgery, including cosmetic procedures. Our board certified plastic surgeons can perform brow lift surgery at the same time as other facial cosmetic procedures.

Some people choose to have a brow lift, facelift, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty and nonsurgical facial and skin rejuvenation as part of one procedure. Giving your forehead and face a lift can subtly brighten your eyes and restore a more youthful appearance.

Why brow lift surgery is done

Aging, too much sun, genetics and lifestyle habits can contribute to unwanted changes in the skin around your eyes, eyebrows and forehead. Skin loses elasticity, and gravity pulls it downward. You may notice sagging skin, wrinkles, lines and furrows around your eyes and forehead that change the look of your face. As skin relaxes, it may cause your eyebrows to droop and upper eyelids to appear hooded. It can make you appear tired, sad or angry.

If you’re bothered by changes like these, a brow lift may be right for you. During brow lift surgery, Ohio State’s plastic surgeons lift and tighten sagging brows and skin, and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. During this procedure, the doctor lifts your forehead and brows, which can give you a more alert and youthful look.

This procedure could be an option if you:

  • Are in good health
  • Have realistic expectations about results
  • Have no conditions that could affect healing or raise the risk of complications
  • Aren’t a smoker

Brow lift surgery — what to expect

Your Ohio State plastic surgeon will provide detailed and individualized information about every aspect of your procedure. During pre-surgery office visits, you’ll learn more about your procedure and what to expect, from preparation through treatment and recovery.

How to prepare for your brow lift

During pre-surgery office visits, your surgeon will review your treatment plan with you. The doctor may take photos of areas to be treated. They may ask you about your past or current health conditions.

Your doctor will examine your skin condition, facial shape, bone structure and patterns of fat distribution. Other preparation may include:

  • Lab tests
  • Review of health history and medical records
  • Discussion of any previous surgeries or other procedures
  • Questions about lifestyle habits, such as diet and current or past smoking
  • Review of medications and supplements
  • Physical examination
  • Before the day of your surgery, you’ll need to arrange to have a friend or family member take you to and from surgery
  • You’ll also need to have someone stay with you the first night after surgery

During your brow lift

Brow lift treatments vary depending on the type of procedure you have and whether you’ll have other procedures at that same time. Most procedures are same-day outpatient procedures. The doctor will give you general anesthesia or intravenous (IV) sedation and local anesthesia, which numbs the areas around your forehead and other areas treated.

Steps of brow lift surgery and types of incisions may include:

Endoscopic incision

Your surgeon may recommend a minimally invasive surgical approach using an endoscope — a thin tube with a tiny camera — and other instruments that can be inserted through small incisions within the hairline. Using special operating tools and techniques, the surgeon can reposition muscle and tissues beneath the skin to help smooth out and diminish forehead lines.

Coronal incision

Another approach is a coronal incision that extends from ear to ear across the top of the head.  The surgeon lifts forehead skin and repositions muscles. If you have this type of incision, the scar will be well concealed under your hair.

Anterior hairline incision

If you have a very high forehead, your surgeon might recommend an incision that’s just in front — the anterior side — of your hairline. This enables the surgeon to lift the brow without changing the height of your hairline.  A scar will be more visible than with other approaches, but it can be concealed under bangs.

Your surgeon may take additional steps if you’re having a full or mini facelift, or other cosmetic surgery procedures at the same time as your brow lift.

When the procedure is complete, the surgeon may use sutures, skin adhesives or surgical clips to close incisions before adding wound dressings or bandages. For some procedures, you may have a thin tube which allows excess fluids to drain. It will be removed during a later office visit.

Brow lift recovery

After your brow lift surgery, you can expect some bruising, redness and inflammation around the surgery site. Your doctor can prescribe medication for any pain or discomfort. Your care team will review safe wound care and what to do at home to protect your skin and encourage healing.

Your doctor will provide other instructions, depending on the nature of your procedure. If you’ve had a facelift, you may need to keep your head in an upright position. At night, you’ll support your head with pillows to keep your head slightly above your chest. Your doctor and care team will evaluate your condition after surgery and in your follow-up visit.

Results of brow lift surgery

Over the next few weeks, as swelling and bruising subside, you’ll begin to notice smoother skin on your forehead and a more youthful, alert appearance around your eyes.

A brow lift can have long-lasting results, but over time, natural aging processes and other stressors will continue to change the skin and cause new creases and lines. Healthy lifestyle choices can protect your skin and help extend the effects of your brow lift.

Ohio State offers many nonsurgical options that can help keep your more youthful look.

Risks of brow lift surgery

Having surgery carries some risks, including the risks generally associated with any surgical procedure. Examples include complications such as bleeding, infection, blood clots and anesthesia risks.

Surgery risks are affected by your health, age and other factors. At Ohio State, our board certified plastic surgeons have advanced training, experience and skills that help to reduce the risk of complications. Your Ohio State plastic surgeon will evaluate and discuss your condition, medical history and personal risk factors. You’ll learn about the benefits and risks for your procedure so you can make a well-informed decision.

Potential risks of a brow lift include:

  • Elevated hairline
  • Uneven results
  • Nerve injury
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Hair loss around incisions
  • Numbness and changes in skin sensation
  • Persistent pain
  • Skin loss
  • Unexpected scarring

Why choose Ohio State for brow lift surgery?

At the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, our experienced, board certified plastic surgeons offer trusted plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery procedures. Ohio State’s high-level care includes:

  • Plastic surgeons who are leaders in this specialty with advanced expertise in a wide range of effective techniques
  • Nonsurgical skin rejuvenation options and collaboration with advanced skin care specialists who’ll recommend the best ways to achieve and maintain your new look
  • Access to the newest and safest, evidence-based advances in cosmetic surgery from a nationally known and respected health care, research and education leader
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