Everything you need to know about brow lifts

Including surgical and non-surgical options

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / January 31 2020

While we’re all about the noble idea of ageing gracefully, these days looking fresh is more attainable than ever – so it doesn’t hurt to check out your options, right? If you’re worried about frown lines or droopy skin (don’t worry, we feel you!), it could be worth knowing that there is a whole plethora of surgical and non-surgical brow lift solutions at your fingertips.

Want to find out more about your options? We spoke to the experts and found out everything you need to know about how to tighten and lift your forehead for a more refreshed and rejuvenated appearance.

Surgical brow lifts

What is a surgical brow lift?
A brow lift, also known as a forehead lift, is a surgical procedure that corrects a sagging or deeply furrowed brow,” explains plastic surgeon Dr Louis Wessels from One Cosmetic. “The procedure is often performed to reduce the creases, or ‘frown lines’, that develop across the forehead and on the bridge of the nose. It can also raise the eyebrows to a more alert and youthful position.”

What does a brow lift involve? 
The aim of a brow lift is to improve facial appearance and reduce the signs of ageing. Dr Wessels says this is achieved by removing excess skin around the brow area and “elevating the brow into a preferred position, smoothing out forehead wrinkles, and lessening frown lines that develop between the eyes near the nose.”

The specific brow lift technique your surgeon chooses will determine incision sites and scarring. Dr John Mahony, Board Member for the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia (CPCA) says surgical brow lifts can be performed via a wide variety of techniques but the gold standard is something called a ‘bi-coronal brow lift’. Now, we’re not going to beat around the bush here – a surgical brow lift is a serious medical procedure and should not be considered as a simple, quick-fix solution. “This [technique] involves cutting the patient pretty much from ear to ear across the top of the head, and cutting out a slice of scalp,” explains Dr Mahony.

“More common might be pre-trichial excision brow lifts, with ostensibly barely visible scars in the anterior hair line, and endoscopic brow lifts, but extensive muscle removal and ligament division is still required in these procedures to give a good chance of an ongoing lift.” 

What are the potential risks?
As we mentioned before, it’s important to remember that a surgical brow lift is a medical procedure that can have potential risks and complications. “It’s also a procedure that can give rise to poor results in terms of inadequate lifting and inadequate duration of effect at one end of the spectrum, to unsightly scars and unnatural outcomes at the other end of the spectrum,” says Dr Mahony. Our advice? If you’re going to undergo a procedure like this, you’re going to want to make sure you’re seeing a highly skilled and experienced surgeon. If you’re looking for a surgeon, we suggest finding someone who is certified with the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). You can search for a plastic surgeon near you on the ASPS website.

Who is a good candidate for a brow lift? 
“A candidate for a brow lift will have experienced a distinct drop in the forehead over time and flattening of the arch that has led to sagging brows,” says Dr Wessels. “Brow lift surgery is a highly individualised procedure and may not be suitable for everyone. Always talk to your specialist plastic surgeon before making a decision. Your surgeon will assess your condition and general health, and plan the treatment that is best suited to you.”

“If you are most concerned about the area around your eyes, eyelid surgery may be more appropriate than a brow lift or may be combined with a brow lift. Discuss your options with your surgeon,” Dr Wessels advises.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that while results are permanent, the ageing process will continue – so don’t look at the procedure as a permanent fix. Dr Wessels says, “Brow lift surgery does not ‘stop the clock’ of ageing. The normal ageing process will continue after the surgery. Any major changes in lifestyle, including your weight, after surgery could affect how you look.” 

What kind of downtime is involved? 
“You can expect bruising and swelling, which is usually worst in the first 72 hours and gradually settles over the following weeks,” says Dr Wessels. In general, stitches come out after five to 10 days. You should be able to see results around six weeks after your treatment, however it can take up to three to six months for swelling or bruising to completely settle.

In terms of recovery time, Dr Wessels says, "You should be ready to resume light activities after seven to 10 days. Most patients return to work after about two weeks and are asked to refrain from strenuous activities for six weeks.”

Non-surgical brow lifts

Unsurprisingly, recent statistics prove that a non-surgical brow rejuvenation procedure is the preferred option of treatment, compared to surgical brow lifts. “According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, brow rejuvenation by botulinum toxin became exponentially popular (797 per cent) over a 16-year period (2000 - 2015), whereas the percentage of surgical brow rejuvenation has decreased about 64 per cent during the same period,” says Dr Mahony.

These are some of the top non-surgical brow lift options our experts recommend:

Anti-wrinkle injections
“More often, in my practice, patients are looking for a holistically fresher, smoother appearance to the region between eyes and hairline,” says Dr Mahony. “And in this regard a lot can be achieved without resorting to the scalpel. For instance, while in the short-term wrinkle injections to the frontal might cause some brow ptosis (when the eyebrow drops lower than normal), long-term frontalis wrinkle injections contribute to brow elevation.”

Dermal fillers
“Secondly, some brow descent follows the soft tissue deflation seen over the frontal bone with age. Forehead filling can reverse some of this, while giving a smoother and more youthful forehead into the bargain,” says Dr Mahony. By injecting fillers into the skin of the forehead region, the loss of tightness and volume (which can result in sagging and wrinkles) can be addressed.  

“Cautious injection of dermal fillers in expert hands can produce pleasing and very natural ‘brightening’ of the eye area, and in some patients [is] a more acceptable alternative to surgery,” adds Dr Michael Molton, President of the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia. “Another minor procedure at the edge of the eyebrows (outer) using anti-wrinkle substances can often ‘lift’ sagging eyebrows.”

Laser treatments and thread lifts
In addition to wrinkle injections and fillers, Dr Mahony says a brow lift is also achievable via treatment with radio-frequency devices and thread lifts. “These various approaches seem to work synergistically. We see improved results when brow lifts that are achieved using energy devices and thread lifts are combined with wrinkle injections,” he says.

Looking for other cosmetic surgery treatments for a more youthful appearance? Check out our article on how to get an eyelid lift without surgery, and the top non-surgical cosmetic treatments set to take over 2020.

Have you ever had a brow lift procedure or any other kind of surgical cosmetic procedures? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.

Main image credit: Getty 

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.