A brow lift is a very popular cosmetic procedure in the UK. The medical name for a brow lift is browplasty. Before considering having this procedure, it is important that patients fully understand what the procedure involves. This brow lift overview will explain what a brow lift is and what it can achieve.
1 to 2 hours
0 - 1 night
General or local with sedation
6 to 12 months
What Can a Brow Lift Achieve?
In a brow lift, the skin of the forehead is pulled and secured back. This acts to elevate the eyebrows and reduce wrinkles on the forehead.
As we age, the skin begins to lose its elasticity, causing the skin to hang more loosely. This is how we develop wrinkles. This loss of elastic tissue on the forehead can, therefore, cause wrinkling of the skin in that area and can also cause drooping of the eyebrows over the eyelids. In a brow lift, a BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon would pull the forehead skin back and secure it in place so that it will no longer hang loosely. This will eliminate both forehead wrinkles and drooping eyebrows.
Patients may consider having a brow lift if they:
- Would like to get rid of wrinkles on the forehead
- Would like to lift low-set or drooping eyebrows
- Are self-conscious of frown lines between the eyebrows
- Have seen no improvement in the drooping of the forehead after having Botulinum toxin injections
- Are experiencing visual disturbances due to the drooping of the forehead or brows.
Why have a brow lift?
Brow lift candidates may be unhappy with the natural appearance of their forehead or they may be dissatisfied with how the ageing process is affecting this area. A brow lift will lift, tighten and correct drooping of loose skin in the forehead, upper eyelids and eyebrow area. As a result, a brow lift can:
- Give a more youthful and rejuvenated appearance.
- Correct any asymmetry of the forehead and eyebrows.
- Improve the confidence patients have with their physical appearance
What a brow lift will not resolve
It is important to remember that a brow lift focuses on the area of the forehead. While a brow lift will restore a more youthful appearance to the forehead, there are some issues this procedure will not address. These include:
- Sagging of the eyelid.
- Wrinkling and sagging of the mid and lower face.
Despite the fact a brow lift will not address these issues, other procedures are available that will. For example, if patients are unhappy with the drooping or sagging of their eyelids, they may wish to consider blepharoplasty. This can be carried out alongside a brow lift. Furthermore, if patients would like to address the sagging of the skin on the mid to lower face, patients may wish to consider a face or neck lift.
Brow Lift Surgery usually costs between £4,795 and £6,000 but the exact price can vary to reflect the personally tailored procedure package.
During the initial consultation, both patient and surgeon will decide upon the right aspects of the procedure for each individual. Some of those factors may affect the final price. The factors may include:
- Which hospital or clinic is chosen for the procedure
- Surgeon experience
- Anaesthetist experience
- Surgical techniques or combination surgeries
- The time required in surgery for each patient’s case
It is only after the consultation that a price can be determined. That final price will cover the following:
- Highly rated CQC hospital costs
- Surgeon and anaesthetist costs
- Overnight stays (if required)
- Aftercare and follow-up appointments
Candidates and Medical Conditions
Who are the best candidates for a brow lift?
A brow lift is a popular cosmetic procedure for both men and women in the UK. While some people have a naturally low-set brow which causes their eyebrows to hood over their eyelids, others may develop a drooping brow as they age. This happens because their skin begins to hang more loosely as it loses its elasticity. This can also cause wrinkles to develop on the forehead. These features can cause people to be unhappy or self-conscious with the appearance of their face. If so, they may be suitable brow lift candidates.
A brow lift will lift the skin of the forehead and secure it back, elevating the brow and removing the appearance of wrinkles. Patients may be a suitable candidate for a brow lift if they:
- Have wrinkles on the forehead that they wish to eliminate.
- Are concerned about frown lines that are present between the eyebrows.
- Have hooded upper eyelids because of a low-set or drooping brow.
- Are experiencing trouble with vision due to low-set or drooping brow.
- Have had botulinum toxin injections in the forehead and are not happy with the results.
- Are relatively fit and well.
- Have a healthy BMI.
- Do not suffer from any serious medical conditions.
- Have realistic goals for the surgery.
- Feel mentally and emotionally ready to undergo this procedure.
- Refrain from smoking cigarettes/nicotine products
How is a brow lift performed?
A brow lift procedure usually takes 1 to 2 hours to perform. The surgeon is likely to do the procedure under general anesthetic, however, it can also be done under local anesthetic with sedation. After the brow lift is complete, patients will be able to go home either that day or the next day. Before the brow lift procedure, you will meet with the consultant surgeon. During this consultation, they will discuss the details of when the patient will be required to stop eating and drinking before surgery. They will also discuss any changes that need to be made to any medication schedules.
Before the surgery, patients will meet with their surgeon to consent to the brow lift procedure. This will either be at the pre-operative assessment or on the day of the surgery. The surgeon will go through the procedure itself, the risks and complications and answer any questions the patient may have. Patients will then be given a consent form to read. If patients are happy with all the information and would like to proceed with the surgery, they will sign the consent form.
Patients will meet the anaesthetist on the day of the brow lift procedure. They will likely use a general anesthetic to put the patient to sleep for the duration of the surgery. This may leave the patient feeling slightly groggy for a while but will wear off within a few hours. Another anesthetic option is also available. The anesthetist could also numb the forehead area and sedate the patient for the procedure.
A brow lift procedure can be done using a number of different techniques. The technique the surgeon chooses will depend on the condition of the skin, the facial features and the position of the hairline.
Endoscopic brow lift
This technique may be suitable for patients if they have mild to moderate brow drooping and horizontal forehead wrinkles.
The surgeon will make several small incisions in various parts of the scalp.
Open brow lift
The surgeon may choose this technique if the patient has more advanced brow drooping and deep-set forehead wrinkles. This is the traditional brow lift method and gives more long-lasting results. It is important to note, however, that this technique is also more invasive than other approaches and results in greater scarring.
- The surgeon will make an incision from one ear to the other, along and, slightly behind your hairline.
- They will lift the forehead skin, adjusting and tightening the underlying muscles and tissue.
- They will remove a small strip of the scalp before stretching the forehead skin into a new position.
- The scar will be concealed within the hairline.
Anterior hairline brow lift
This method is ideal for patients who have a receding hairline or high forehead. This is because the surgeon can lift the brows but not alter the position of the hairline. It is also possible to shorten the forehead or address brow asymmetry with this technique.
- The surgeon will make an incision across the forehead, just in front of the hairline.
- They will lift the forehead skin, adjusting and tightening the underlying muscles and tissue.
- They will remove a small strip of the forehead skin before stretching it back into a new position, raising the brows.
Lateral Temporal Brow Lift
This procedure only lifts the lateral aspect of the brows and is the least invasive approach to a brow lift. It does not address wrinkles in the centre of the forehead or between the brows. Therefore, it is most suitable for patients who have mild to moderate sagging of the outer brow area and forehead and want a less invasive procedure with a quicker recovery time.
- The surgeon will make a small incision behind the hairline in the temples (sides of the head).
- They will adjust and tighten the forehead skin and underlying tissue to lift it to a better position, thereby raising the outer portion of the brow.
Gull-wing brow lift
This technique results in the greatest scarring and is, as a result, less commonly performed. It is most suitable for patients with severe brow or forehead drooping (also known as ptosis). It is also suitable for patients who would like to lower a high or receding hairline.
- The surgeon will make incisions along or directly above the eyebrows.
- They will remove a section of skin and the underlying tissue above the eyebrows, which acts to raise the brows.
Closing of incisions
Once the surgeon achieves the desired result from the brow lift procedure, they will close the incisions with stitches or surgical glue.
Return to the ward
Finally, patients will return to the ward after the surgery. They will likely stay there for a few hours or overnight to allow the effects of the anesthesia to wear off before they can go home.
What to expect from a brow lift consultation?
Patients will meet with their BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon for a brow lift consultation before having the procedure. This will give you both an opportunity to discuss the procedure itself, all personal goals for the surgery and the most suitable technique to use. The consultation usually lasts from 15 minutes to 1 hour. During this time, the surgeon will ask for more information regarding:
- Current health condition
- Any relevant past medical history
- Previous surgical history
- Any medications (this includes prescribed, over the counter and herbal medications)
- Use of cigarettes, vapes, alcohol and other drugs
- Any allergies
We stress the importance of being as open and honest with the surgeon as possible. This will allow them to make fully informed decisions about what is best for the patient's care. It will also allow patients to be frank about the goals and ensure that they are realistic and achievable. This, in turn, will mean patients are more likely to be happy with the results of the brow lift.
During the brow lift consultation, the surgeon will examine the forehead area in order to decide the most appropriate surgical technique to use. They will consider the features of this area that the patient is concerned about, the quality of the skin and the position of the hairline. They may also ask for permission to take before and after pictures of the area for the medical records.
Questions to ask during a brow lift consultation?
While the brow lift consultation is an opportunity for the surgeon to learn information about the patient, it is also an opportunity for patients to ask any questions they may have. Patients may find it useful to write down any questions they can think of about the procedure on a piece of paper before the consultation. This way, they will feel prepared. Below is a list of questions patients may wish to ask the surgeon during the consultation:
- Which brow lift technique do you think is most suitable for me?
- Will the technique chosen for me affect my hairline?
- Will there be scarring and if so, where?
- Do you think my goals for this procedure are realistic?
- How long will it take for me to recover after my brow lift?
- Have you got any before and after pictures of previous brow lifts you have performed?
- How long can I expect the results of my brow lift to last?
- What are my options if I am not happy with the results?
Risks and Complications
What are the main risks of a brow lift?
As with any surgical procedure, a brow lift comes with risks and complication. It is important to be fully educated about all brow lift risks and complications before deciding to continue with the procedure. All BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeons strongly recommend that patients spend at least two weeks thinking over all the information before deciding to continue with the surgery.
While many of the brow lift risks and complications below are uncommon, it is still useful to know there is a possibility that they can occur. The risk and complications of a brow lift include:
Hair loss and hairline elevation
Hair loss may occur around the areas of the incision. This loss may be temporary or may cause a permanent reduction of hair growth. A brow lift procedure may also result in an elevated hairline.
One of the brow lift risks and complications includes skin discolouration. Most people will see a slight change in the colour of their skin in the area where the operation was performed. If this does occur, it will most likely settle after some months. In the meantime, makeup can be a useful tool if patients wish to cover these colour changes.
Any surgery is an invasive procedure and with this comes the risk of introducing infection into the body. Infections usually become apparent in the first 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. Patients may notice that the wounds or treatment areas are not settling as expected. Mild infections generally settle down with a course of antibiotics.
The signs of infection to look out for are:
- A temperature of over 38° C.
- Redness at the incision site begins to spread outwards from that site.
- Yellow pus or foul-smelling fluid coming from your wounds.
- An increase in pain or discomfort that your pain medication does not help.
Tissue or skin necrosis
It is a possibility that some areas of skin may die if blood supply to that area is lost during surgery. This is called necrosis and is much more likely to occur in smokers. This is a very rare complication, but you must be aware that if it were to happen, it may affect the final results of the brow lift. Patients may also require another operation to help fix the damage.
Injury to the nerves during surgery can lead to a loss of sensation or movement in the face. This may be temporary or permanent but generally, long-term loss of sensation or movement is a rare complication. Choosing an experienced, highly qualified BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon to carry out the surgery helps minimise this risk.
Bruising and bleeding
Mild bleeding and bruising is common following a brow lift procedure and is usually temporary. If more severe bleeding occurs, it may form a solid collection of blood under the skin which is called a haematoma. This presents with pain, significant bruising and facial or neck swelling. Almost all haematomas occur within 24 hours of the procedure and require medical attention. Despite this, it should not significantly affect the results of the brow lift.
As the surgeon will be making incisions on the treatment area, patients should expect that scars are unavoidable. In most cases, however, scarring is minimal and well hidden within the hair or hairline. The extent of scarring depends on the technique used and the skins ability to heal.
There is always a risk that patients will be unhappy with the results of the brow lift for aesthetic reasons. This means they may not be happy with how their face looks after surgery. Indeed, there is a risk that there may be some asymmetry in the facial features. Therefore, it is advised that patients choose their surgeon carefully and make sure they have the necessary experience and qualifications. It is also recommended that patients are clear and frank about their goals during the consultation.
General surgical complications
All surgical procedures carry some common risks. These general surgical complications include but are not limited to:
- The development of blood clots.
- Risks of anaesthesia.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Post-operative pain.
What to expect after a brow lift?
Knowing what to expect after a brow lift can help prevent any fears or worries of the unknown. When patients meet with their prospective surgeon, they will discuss the details of the brow lift aftercare. This will include time frames for when patients can go back to work, when they can begin driving again and when they can resume normal exercise.
Before patients leave the hospital after the surgery, they will be given an appointment to come back for a post-operative review. This is usually 1 to 2 weeks after the brow lift takes place. At this appointment, the surgeon will remove any non-dissolvable stitches and ensure that patient is recovering as expected.
Waking up after surgery
How patients feel immediately after surgery will depend on what anaesthetic they have. If they opt for general anaesthetic patients will wake up slowly after your brow lift. Memory and concentration may be affected but this will usually resolve after 1 to 2 days. On the other hand, if they choose local anaesthetic, patients may feel numbness around the treatment area. This too will wear off with time.
Patients will not be able to drive home after the brow lift. Therefore, they should arrange for someone to collect them. They may also need to ask an adult to supervise them for the first 24 hours after the operation. This is because patients may still be experiencing side effects from the anaesthetic.
Dressings and drains
The surgeon will wrap the forehead in a dressing and an elastic bandage after the brow lift. This will help minimise swelling and bruising after the procedure. The surgeon will explain how long the patient has to keep this on for. The surgeon may also place a thin tube in the skin to drain away any excess blood or fluid. They will remove any non-dissolvable stitches and check all progress 1 to 2 weeks after the surgery at the post-operative appointment.
Time off work
The amount of time patients will be required to take off from work will depend on the type of job they have. It is recommended that they take at least 1 week off if they have an office job and at least 2 weeks off if they have a more physically demanding job. Furthermore, it is advised that they avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activity during this time off.
Exercise and sport
As part of the brow lift aftercare, it is advised that patients try to do some light walking every day to keep active after they leave the hospital. Patients can attempt some light cardio from 2 weeks after the surgery. Avoid any strenuous activity or contact sports for at least 4 to 6 weeks after the brow lift.
It is common to experience pain, swelling and bruising around the forehead, brows and eyes after a brow lift. This can take several days to settle. Patients will be given appropriate pain medications to help minimise any discomfort. Sleeping upright with the head elevated for one week after having brow lift surgery will help reduce the swelling.
The positioning of the scars will depend on the technique the surgeon chooses to perform the brow lift. Usually, scars tend to be raised in the first few weeks after surgery and eventually fade to faint lines over the following months. As the incisions used for this procedure are usually underneath or along the hairline, the surgeon is generally able to hide the scars well.
Brow lift aftercare does not just involve the few weeks it takes for the swelling and bruising to go down. It is the journey from the actual surgery to the point at which patients are finally able to appreciate the final results of the brow lift. Although the results of the brow lift surgery are immediately visible, it can take around 6 to 12 months to appreciate the full cosmetic results. Therefore, it is important to remain patient. Initially, in the first few days after surgery, brows may appear to be higher than expected. Brows will gradually settle into the desired position with time.
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