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Cosmetic Surgery For The Face

Brow Lift

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 12:57

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

A brow or forehead lift is most often done to raise drooping eyebrows and smooth out wrinkles and creases on the forehead and between the eyes.

The tissue of the forehead and brow can sometimes sag down over the upper eyelid to such an extent that the eyelashes and eyebrows meet. Wrinkles or "corrugations" in the forehead and the frown lines between the eyes become fixed. These wrinkles and creases can cause a person to look tired, sad, or angry all the time.

A brow lift alters or removes the tissues that cause furrowing and drooping of the forehead, raises the eyebrows, and reduces frown lines.

Nice To Know:

Combination brow and eyelid surgery:

People most often have a brow lift after age 40 to reduce the visible effects of aging. However, people of any age may consider the surgery if they have inherited a tendency for baggy eyes, especially if the drooping skin interferes with vision. In this case, the brow lift is often done in combination with eyelid surgery. If the puffiness is limited to the upper lid, the brow lift alone may be sufficient to correct the problem.

The Procedure

The brow lift is performed through an incision made from ear to ear across the crown of the head. The pattern of the incision follows much the same line as a set of headphones. Before surgery, the hair is bound up in rubber bands on either side of the incision. A thin line of hair may be shaved along the incision.

The skin of the brow is lifted carefully and some of the underlying muscle tissue is altered or removed. It is the downward pull of the muscles that causes the brow to droop. The skin is pulled back and the excess skin is trimmed away so that it exactly fits the incision line. The incision is closed with sutures or metal clips.

The brow lift raises the hairline in a way that may look unnatural on someone whose hairline is high or receding. In this case, the incision may be made just at the hairline to avoid adding more height to the brow.

For a person who is bald or losing hair, the incision may be better placed so as to follow the natural lines of the scalp.

Brow-lift surgery usually lasts between one and two hours. It is usually performed in an outpatient facility with local anesthetics and sedatives to relieve tension.

Nice To Know:

Endoscopic brow lift

In some cases, an endoscopic technique can be used to perform a brow lift.

An endoscope is a thin flexible tube that contains a light source and a camera that can project images onto a television screen. An endoscopic lift can be done through a series of one-inch incisions in the scalp.

The surgeon inserts the endoscope through one of the incisions and uses it to guide other instruments (inserted through the other incisions) in lifting the skin and trimming the underlying tissue. The eyebrows may also be raised and secured in a higher position either by stitches under the skin or by specialized temporary fixation devices under the hair.

An endoscopic brow lift causes less scarring and numbness and it doesn't raise the hairline as severely as the traditional procedure.

After The Surgery

Bandaging is not always necessary after a brow lift. In some cases, however, gauze dressings are placed along the incision line, and the head is wrapped in an elastic bandage. These bandages will be removed within the first three days after the procedure. Sutures will be removed within 7 to 14 days after surgery. Hair can usually be washed as soon as the bandages are removed, but it is best to check with the surgeon for specific instructions.

  • Most people experience little discomfort after a brow lift, but some medication for pain may be prescribed.
  • A certain amount of swelling and bruising is normal in the first two weeks after a brow lift. The swelling may extend into the cheeks and eyes. Keeping the head elevated can minimize swelling. Cold compresses may also help reduce swelling.
  • Most people return to their normal routine within two weeks of brow-lift surgery. However, vigorous activity, such as jogging or heavy housework, should be limited for several weeks. Prolonged exposure to heat and sun should be avoided for several months.
  • There will be some numbness around the incision. This numbness may be replaced by itching as healing progresses. Both sensations should disappear within six months.
  • There may be thinning or loss of hair along the edges of the scar line. Normal hair growth should return within a few weeks. Permanent loss of hair is rare.
  • Visible signs of surgery should disappear within three weeks.

How Effective Is A Brow Lift?

  • A brow lift addresses only one area of the face and therefore may have to be done in combination with a face lift or eyelid surgery before the desired effect is achieved.
  • A brow lift corrects deep wrinkling and sagging of the tissues of the forehead. Fine wrinkling, such as crow's feet around the eyes, must be corrected by another technique such as laser resurfacing or collagen injections.
  • A brow lift does not stop the aging process, and as time passes signs of aging may reappear.

Need To Know:

The longevity of a brow lift is influenced by lifestyle choices such as alcohol and tobacco use, by environmental factors such as sun exposure, and by heredity. With a healthy lifestyle, the effects of a brow lift may last for 15 years. In some cases, the improvements are permanent.


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