Forehead Lift Quick Facts
- Best Candidates: People who are seeking to raise sagging eyebrows and smooth wrinkles on the forehead
- Procedure Length: 1 to 2 hours
- Inpatient/Outpatient: Usually Outpatient
- Anesthesia: Local with sedation or general
- Results: Long-lasting
- Procedures in 2020: 88,675 (source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons)
The loss of skin elasticity that comes with aging can cause the eyebrows to droop and wrinkles on the forehead to deepen. A forehead lift (also called a brow lift) raises the eyebrows and lifts and tightens the skin above the eyes to smooth the forehead and restore a softer, more youthful look. The majority of forehead lift patients successfully achieve an improved appearance and an increase in self-confidence.
The procedure information contained in this article will give you a good introduction to forehead lifts. Schedule a consultation with a Top Plastic Surgeon to receive a medical examination and discuss your options for a forehead lift.
Forehead Lift Overview
As we age and the skin loses elasticity, skin on the face can loosen and begin to sag. This can cause the eyebrows to droop and creases on the forehead to become deeper and more prominent, making one appear tired, angry or sad.
A forehead lift, also called a brow lift or browlift, is a surgical procedure that raises the eyebrows and tightens the forehead skin to minimize furrowing and frown lines. Forehead lifts can be performed alone or in combination with other facial procedures. Many patients find that a forehead lift in conjunction with a facelift, eyelid surgery, laser skin resurfacing or treatment with skin injectables rejuvenates the entire face for a younger look.
How a Forehead Lift is Performed
A forehead lift usually takes from 1 to 2 hours to complete. The procedure may take place in your plastic surgeon's surgical facility, an outpatient surgery center or a hospital. A forehead lift is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, allowing you to return to the comfort of home on the day of surgery. Depending on the individual patient, your surgeon may prefer that you spend a night in the hospital under medical supervision.
Forehead lifts are usually performed under local anesthesia combined with a sedative to cause drowsiness. General anesthesia, which causes you to sleep throughout the procedure, is sometimes used depending on the preferences of you and your surgeon.
A forehead lift can be performed using the "classic" technique that involves a continuous incision made behind the hairline or using a newer endoscopic technique that results in less scarring. Your surgeon will help you to decide which technique is best for you.
Coronal Forehead Lift
The most common forehead lift technique is the coronal forehead lift. Prior to surgery, the hair is parted at the incision line and tied with rubber bands. Hair is sometimes trimmed from the front of the incision line. The incision is then made from ear to ear across the top of the head and behind the hairline so that the scar will not be visible. For patients who are bald, have a receding hairline or have thinning hair, the incision may be made just at the hairline or between the top of the forehead and the hairline.
After the incision is made, the forehead skin is lifted so that underlying tissue can be removed and muscles of the forehead can be altered or released. The skin is then pulled upward, excess skin removed and the incision closed with stitches or clips. The rubber bands are then removed and the face and hair are washed. Some surgeons use a dressing or bandage to cover the incision.
Endoscopic Forehead Lift
Innovations in endoscopic surgery have led to a number of advances in plastic surgery techniques. During an endoscopic forehead lift, the surgeon uses an endoscope — a thin, flexible instrument fitted with a tiny camera — to view the muscles and tissue that lie beneath the skin.
Instead of one long incision, the procedure is performed using three to six small incisions, less than an inch in length, behind the hairline. Small muscles that create furrowing are removed and the skin is pulled and redraped. Temporary screws are used to secure the skin until it heals. Endoscopic forehead lifts are often used for younger patients who require a less extensive procedure.
The best candidates for a forehead lift are people who are in good health and want to rejuvenate the appearance of their face by smoothing furrows, wrinkles and frown lines on the forehead and lifting the eyebrows.
In general, the best candidates for a forehead lift:
- Are in good physical and psychological health.
- Are well-informed about treatment options and have realistic expectations.
- Want to improve the appearance of their forehead by reducing furrowing and wrinkling and raising the eyebrows.
- Have facial skin that is firm and elastic.
Most forehead lifts are performed on people 40 to 60 years of age to minimize the appearance of aging. However, the procedure can benefit people of any age who develop unwanted creases or frown lines or want to revise inherited traits such as a low or heavy brow.
If you believe that you may be a good candidate for a forehead lift, a qualified plastic surgeon can evaluate your condition, explain anything about the procedure you don't understand, answer all of your questions and help you decide if the procedure is right for you.
Forehead Lift Risks
Complications are rare when a forehead lift is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. However, all surgeries, including forehead lifts, carry risks. To minimize your risk, carefully follow all of your surgeon's instructions both before and after the procedure. Contact your surgeon's office immediately if you experience any symptoms you believe may indicate a complication.
The most common risks associated with forehead lift (brow lift) surgery include:
- Inhibition of facial movements
- Pain, swelling or bruising beyond normal levels
- Excessive bleeding
- Numbness (usually temporary)
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Broad scar formation
- Dissatisfaction with results
Infrequently, a forehead lift can result in the inhibition of movement and patients may not be able to raise their eyebrows or wrinkle their forehead. Additional surgery to correct the problem may be required in these cases.
The scar left by a forehead lift is usually located behind the hairline and is not visible in most cases. Patients who have a visible scar because of a high or receding hairline can usually hide the scar by choosing a hairstyle that covers the upper forehead. Formation of a broad scar is a rare complication that can result from skin that is pulled too tightly or excessive swelling and sometimes requires surgical treatment.
Though permanent hair loss is uncommon, some patients lose hair at the edges of the scar. Numbess in the area of the incision is usually temporary but may be permanent in some cases.
Forehead Lift Costs
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the national average surgeon/physician fee for a forehead lift in 2013 was $3,095. This figure does not include other costs, such as a facilities charge or anesthesia. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with complete information on costs and financing options at your consultation.
The total fee for a forehead lift can vary considerably depending on the region of the country, the type of procedure and your specific needs as a patient. The cost of a forehead lift is usually not covered by health insurance, as it is considered to be a cosmetic procedure.
Forehead Lift Consultation
To better understand how a forehead lift might change your appearance, stand in front of a mirror and place the palms of your hands above the eyebrows at the outer edges of the eyes. Gently draw the skin up to raise the brow and forehead area. What you see in the mirror is close in appearance to what you would look like after a forehead lift.
If you decide that you might benefit from a forehead lift, the first step is to locate a qualified plastic surgeon and schedule a consultation. During this meeting, the doctor will examine your face, including the skin and underlying bone. He or she should carefully listen to the goals you have for your appearance and explain the different options that are available.
The surgeon should fully address all of your questions and give you the full details of the recommended procedure, including the benefits, risks, costs and recovery time. You should also be shown before and after photos of the surgeon's recent forehead lift patients.
Be prepared to discuss your medical history, including any vitamins and medications, both prescription and non-prescription, that you take. The doctor will also ask about existing health conditions and allergies.
As the consultation concludes, you may wish to schedule your procedure, take some time to think or seek a second opinion. If you decide to proceed with the procedure, your plastic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions on how to prepare for your forehead lift. These instructions will include guidelines for eating, drinking, and medications and vitamins to take or avoid before and after surgery.
Forehead Lift Recovery
After a forehead lift, most patients experience some pain around the incision along with mild swelling and temporary numbness or itching. Any pain should subside quickly and be easily controlled with medication. Swelling, which may extend to the eyes and cheeks, should abate within a few weeks. Minor swelling and bruising can be hidden with special makeup until the visible signs of surgery fade.
For the first few days after your forehead lift, take it easy, get plenty of rest and follow all of your post-operative instructions. Your plastic surgeon may ask you to keep your head elevated for a few days to reduce swelling. If dressings or bandages were used, you should be able to remove them after a day or two, allowing you to shower and wash your hair at that time. Most of the stitches or clips are usually removed within a couple of weeks. After an endoscopic forehead lift, the stitches or staples are usually removed within a week and the temporary screws used to secure the skin are removed within 2 weeks.
Always follow your plastic surgeon's advice on when you can resume your normal activities. Most patients are up and around a day or two after surgery and can return to work in about a week. Strenuous activity or any activity that can increase your blood pressure should be limited for several weeks. Sun exposure should be limited for several months to avoid damage to the skin.
Numbness may be replaced by itching as the nerves heal along the incision line. This itching may take several months to completely go away. Permanent hair loss rarely occurs, but some hair may be lost around the incision and regrowth may be thinner for a few months until normal growth resumes.