The Ultimate Guide to Brow Lifts: What to Expect Before, During, and After the Procedure
Sometimes called a forehead lift or forehead rejuvenation, the brow lift is a popular cosmetic procedure today. If you’re considering scheduling brow lift surgery, here’s what you can plan for before, during, and afterward. Knowing what to expect will help you relax before the procedure and be better prepared for a smooth operation and recovery.
Before Your Brow Lift
Your surgeon will discuss with you your reasons for scheduling a brow lift, which could include desiring:
- A more youthful and rested appearance of the face
- A less tired or angry look
- The restoration of symmetry to uneven brows
- A reduction of sagging in low brows
- Improved self-confidence
You may combine your brow lift with other procedures, such as eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) or a lower facelift. If so, you’ll discuss all of these changes in your pre-op consultation.
Your doctor will have you make a variety of faces to establish how your face moves and to see if and where your skin wrinkles or forms natural lines. You will also have “before” pictures taken for comparison with your “after” results.
You must be a good candidate for a brow lift procedure, especially if you’re undergoing general anesthesia (more on that below). Therefore, your doctor will perform an exam before your surgery and take your medical history to ensure you have no conditions that could cause complications during the procedure or recovery.
You shouldn’t be a smoker and may have to discontinue certain medications, particularly those that interfere with the clotting and healing process. If you’re having general anesthesia, you will be instructed not to eat for a certain number of hours prior to your procedure.
You’ll be told to arrive with clean skin and no makeup for your brow lift. You may also be asked to remove any nail polish or artificial nails, especially if a pulse oximeter will be used on your finger during the procedure to monitor oxygen saturation levels. Since you won’t likely be able to wash your hair for some time after surgery, give yourself a good deep shampoo right before your procedure.
What to Expect During Your Brow Lift Procedure
Brow lift surgery takes approximately one to three hours. Depending on the type of procedure you’re having, it may be performed in a clinic setting with IV sedation or in a hospital under general surgery. There are five different types of brow lifts, each of which is performed differently and may or may not be suited for your brow concerns and hairline:
- Endoscopic brow lift — performed via small incisions made behind the hairline using a tiny camera
- Temporal brow lift — uses small incisions behind the hairline near the temples
- Direct brow lift — raises skin above the brows and is typically done on people with very full brows under local anesthesia
- Coronal brow lift (aka open brow lift or classic lift) — uses an incision across the top of the head from ear to ear, with the scalp repositioned in the end
- Hairline brow lift — uses an incision at the top of the forehead just below the hairline and removes skin from the forehead rather than the scalp
Most people go home the same day as their brow lift surgery, provided they’re not having other procedures done simultaneously. It would be best to have someone pick you up and drive you home, as you may be sedated by pain medication and shouldn’t drive. Expect to need to use the bathroom more frequently than normal for the next 12-24 hours due to the administration of IV fluids; it’s wise to make a pit stop right before leaving the clinic or hospital to empty your bladder.
You will have sutures or staples at your incision site(s), and you should expect to have some bandaging or wrapping around the surgical area. For more comprehensive procedures, tubing may be inserted to help drain blood and fluids from the site.
Recovery After Your Brow Lift
You’ll want to plan on a week or two off work and strenuous activities immediately after your surgery. Based on your procedure, you’ll be able to remove dressings in a few days; your doctor will probably take your staples or stitches out in a week to 10 days if they are not designed to dissolve on their own.
Expect to have some minor discomfort in the days right after your procedure. Other post-op symptoms include:
These effects should resolve over the next week or two, and your incision lines will gradually fade. Your physician will tell you when you can wash and dry your hair or use makeup again. They’ll also let you know how long to take any prescription or over-the-counter medications for pain.
Note: You cannot drive until you have discontinued any narcotic pain drugs that cause sleepiness.
Meanwhile, you’ll be instructed to keep your head elevated, including during sleep. You’ll probably be advised to apply cool packs (not ice) to the surgical area to reduce pain and swelling.
Be sure to inform your surgeon if any unpleasant post-op symptoms aren’t improving on schedule. Also, there are possible complications from surgery and anesthesia, such as:
- Nerve damage or permanent numbness
- Changes to the hairline and hair growth
- Limited eyebrow mobility
- Brow asymmetry
- Allergic reactions
- Blood clots and pulmonary emboli
When you are discharged, your doctor will review any symptoms that should prompt an urgent call to them, such as tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or sudden swelling.
Aside from following your discharge instructions to the letter, the best way to minimize problems after your brow lift procedure is to select an experienced and board-certified surgeon with a highly rated clinic and surgical privileges at a top hospital.
Sarmela Sunder, MD at Sunder Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills, is double-board certified and has performed many successful brow lifts. She remains at the forefront of cosmetic surgery techniques, including less invasive brow lift procedures for men.
Dr. Sunder also offers nonsurgical alternatives to brow lifts, such as Botox injections. These injections are not a permanent solution, but they allow you to see how your face would appear with fewer lines and a more relaxed look if you’re thinking about a brow lift to fight the effects of stress and aging.
Call Dr. Sunder’s office today at (310) 765-5110 for a consultation about your brow lift, or reach out online with your questions.