A forehead lift is a surgical procedure to correct sagging of the forehead skin, eyebrows, and upper eyelids. It may also improve the look of wrinkles in the forehead and between the eyes.
Endobrow lift; Open browlift; Temporal lift
A forehead lift removes or changes the muscles and skin that cause signs of aging as drooping eyebrows, "hooding" eyelids, forehead furrows, and frown lines.
The surgery may be done alone or with other procedures such as a facelift, eyelid surgery, or nose reshaping. The surgery can be done in a surgeon's office, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It's usually done on an outpatient basis, without an overnight stay.
You will be awake, but will be given local anesthesia so that you will not feel pain. You might also get medicine to relieve anxiety. In some cases, general anesthesia will be used. During the procedure, you will feel some stretching of the forehead skin and possibly some discomfort. Some patients ask for general anesthesia so they will sleep through the procedure.
Sections of hair will be held away from the surgery area. Hair right in front of the cut line may need to be trimmed, but large areas of hair will not be shaved.
The doctor will make a surgical cut at ear level. That cut will continue across the top of the forehead at the hairline so that the forehead does not look too high.
If you are bald or balding, the surgeon may use a cut in the middle of the scalp to avoid a visible scar.
Some surgeons will use several small cuts and perform the surgery using an endoscope (a small camera).
After removing excess tissue, skin, and muscle, the doctor will close the cut with stitches or staples. Before dressings are applied, your hair and face will be washed so the scalp skin does not get irritated.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
This procedure is most often done on people in their 40s - 60s to slow the effects of aging. It can also help people with inherited conditions, such as furrowed lines above the nose or a droopy eyebrow.
In younger people, a forehead lift can raise low eyebrows that give the face a "sad" look. The procedure can also be done in people whose brows are so low that they block the upper part of their vision.
A good candidate for a forehead lift has one or more of the following:
Deep furrows between the eyes
Horizontal wrinkles on the forehead
Nose that doesn't work properly
Tissue that hangs down at the outer part of the eyelids
Occasionally, forehead lifts will make it hard to raise the eyebrows or wrinkle the forehead on one or both sides. If this happens, you might need more surgery to make both sides even. If you have already had plastic surgery to lift your upper eyelids, a forehead lift may not be recommended because it could affect your ability to close your eyelids.
In most people, the cut for the forehead lift is under the hairline. If you have a high or receding hairline, you may be able to see a thin scar after surgery. You'll need to style your hair so that it partly covers your forehead.
If the forehead skin is pulled too tightly or there is a lot of swelling, a wide scar may form. In some cases, hair loss may occur along the scar edges. This can be treated by surgically removing the scar tissue or areas of hair loss so a new scar can form. Permanent hair loss after a forehead lift is rare.
Medical conditions that could cause problems during or after surgery:
Blood clotting problems
Tendency to form excessive scars
Uncontrolled high blood pressure
After the Procedure
The area is wrapped with a sterile padding and an elastic bandage to prevent bleeding and swelling (edema). You will feel numbness and temporary discomfort in the surgical site, which you can control with medication.
You'll keep your head raised for 2 - 3 days after surgery to prevent swelling. Bruising and swelling will occur around the eyes and cheeks, but should begin to disappear in a few days or a week.
As nerves regrow, numbness of the forehead and scalp will be replaced with itching or tingling. It may take up to 6 months for these sensations to fully disappear. The bandages will be removed a day or two after surgery. Within 10 -14 days, the stitches or clips will be removed in two stages.
You will be able to walk around in 1 - 2 days, but you won't be able to work for at least 7 days after surgery. You can shampoo and shower 2 days after surgery, or as soon as the bandages are removed.
Within 10 days, you should be able to go back to work or school. You should limit vigorous physical activity (jogging, bending, heavy housework, sex, or any activity that increases your blood pressure) for several weeks. Avoid contact sports for 6 - 8 weeks. Limit exposure to heat or sun for several months.
Hair shafts will be a bit thinner around the cut for a few weeks or months, but the hair should start to grow normally again. Hair will not grow in the line of the actual scar. Wearing your hair down on your forehead will hide most scars.
Most signs of the surgery should fade completely within 2 - 3 months. Makeup can cover minor swelling and bruising. At first, you'll probably feel tired and let down, but that will pass as you begin to look and feel better.
Most patients are pleased with the results of a forehead lift. They appear much younger and more rested than they did before. The procedure reduces the look of aging for years. Even if you don't have the surgery repeated in later years, you will probably look better than if you had never had a forehead lift.
Codere F, Tucker N. Cosmetic blepharoplasty and browplasty. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 12.16.
David A. Lickstein, MD, FACS, Specializing in Cosmetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.