What is a brow lift? Benefits, recovery, cost, before and after photos, and more.
It’s no secret that eyebrows have created a booming business. From brow extensions to microblading and ombré shading, people are willing to try almost anything to achieve fuller, more lifted arches. And for the latter, that coveted lift that gives a refreshed appearance, young patients are seeking one plastic surgery procedure more than ever: the brow lift.
Brow lifts, aka forehead lifts, have been around for decades. And compared to other cosmetic surgeries, they’re actually decreasing in popularity. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of brow lifts performed decreased by 47 percent from 2000 to 2019. But there’s been a recent resurgence in the surgery among younger patients—just search #browlift on Instagram and you’ll see what we mean—who are looking for a little pick-me-up.
As opposed to the also popular, non-surgical Botox brow lift (more on that to come), the surgery offers a much longer-lasting way to score elevated brows and a smooth forehead. Again, no longer something that only the 50+ crowd is after. Ahead, plastic surgeons walk us through everything there is to know about brow lifts.
What is a brow lift?
Simply put, it’s exactly what it sounds like. “A brow lift is a procedure designed to elevate the soft tissues of the forehead,” explains Dr. Ben Lee, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon at Wave Plastic Surgery. Brow lift surgery is a minimally-invasive procedure that typically requires very few incisions along the hairline to lift the skin and work on the various internal structures of the forehead. Ultimately, the brows are left in a higher position, the forehead looks smoother, the eyes appear larger and more youthful, and the excess skin around the upper eyelids is reduced, adds Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD, a double board-certified plastic surgeon of New York Facial Plastic Surgery.
Who is a good candidate for a brow lift?
Pretty much anyone. The traditional patient is usually between the ages of 35-65, someone who is showing some signs of aging in the upper third of their face, says Dr. Lee. But, per the point of a younger demographic opting for the surgery, he adds that it’s also very popular among younger patients who want to look refreshed and more awake, or are after a more exotic look. Similarly, Dr. Vasyukevich notes that some people are simply born with a droopy, saggy brow to begin with (thanks, genetics) and that these are also good candidates.
What can you expect during brow lift surgery?
“While traditional brow lifts involved large incisions and significant recovery times, modern brow lifting uses small incisions, allowing for the most natural appearance, with the smallest scars possible,” explains Dr. Lee. (He adds that some are also performed with the assistance of an endoscope for an even more precise result.) It’s still a major surgery, performed either under general anesthesia or twilight sedation. Five access incisions are made in the scalp, behind the hairline. The surgeon then goes through these points to separate soft tissue and ligaments, ultimately repositioning the brows in a more desirable place and holding them there with temporary, dissolvable anchors that tether the tissue to the bone.
What about the recovery and results?
Plan on about a week or so of solid downtime post-surgery. You don’t need drains or heavy bandaging, but take at least a week off of work, says Dr. Vasyukevich. He adds that bruising and swelling are common, but usually resolve quickly. You may also feel some tightness for a few weeks, and possibly even some numbness for up to six months, adds Dr. Lee, though both of these side effects should eventually resolve completely.
But there are more serious risks and permanent problems that can occur—asymmetry or poor positioning of the brows, decreased sensation on the skin, scarring issues—which is why it’s paramount to seek out a board-certified, experienced plastic surgeon to perform a brow lift. Look for a surgeon who is experienced in brow lifts, and schedule an in-depth consultation to discuss your goals and the suggested technique.
And, FYI, don’t judge the results right away. “We often ‘over-correct’ the initial brow position in order to account for the relaxation of the soft tissues during the healing process. Be patient and let the tissues in your brow and forehead relax into their final position, which can take a few weeks,” advises Dr. Lee.
Brow lift before and after photos
How long does a brow lift last?
“The longevity of the results varies from patient to patient,” says Dr. Vasyukevich, though he cites anywhere from 10 to 15 years as range. However, Dr. Lee disagrees, saying that it’s rare to require a repeat procedure. Although the effects may start to fade some overtime, since you cannot stop the natural aging process, the results are, for the most part, considered permanent.
What is the cost for brow lift?
As is the case with pretty much anything and everything related to cosmetic procedures, the price varies greatly based on doctor and geographic location. As a reference point, the average cost of a brow lift was $3490 in 2019, according to the ASPS.
How does it compare to a brow lift with Botox?
Yes, Botox and other injectable neuromodulators can be used to elevate your brows as well—but both doctors we spoke with are quick to note that the end results aren’t comparable by any means. “With a surgical brow lift, a surgeon has the freedom to reposition and reshape the entire forehead and brow complex as desired. A brow lift with Botox is more limited, resulting in a very slight and temporary, often barely noticeable, elevation of the lateral brow,” points out Lee.
Per the point of temporary, you’re talking about results that are going to last for a few months versus for years and years, adds Dr. Vasyukevich. Plus, speaking of Botox, a surgical brow lift has the potential to actually decrease the need for the wrinkle-smoothing injectable in the future, because the surgery weakens the powerful muscles in the central forehead responsible for frowning, says Lee.
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