What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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A brow lift is done in a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility. During a brow lift, you'll typically be comfortable with the aid of a general anesthetic — which renders you unconscious.

During surgery

Brow lift techniques vary depending on your desired results. The specific technique your plastic surgeon chooses will determine the location of the incisions and the resulting scars.

Your doctor might use one of the following techniques:

  • Endoscopic brow lift. Your surgeon will make several small incisions behind your hairline. He or she will then insert a long thin tube with a light and a tiny camera mounted on its end (endoscope) through one of the incisions to view your underlying muscles and tissues. Using an instrument inserted through another incision, your surgeon will lift your forehead tissues and anchor them in place with sutures, small screws or another technique. Your incisions are then closed with stitches or small clips.
  • Coronal brow lift. Your surgeon will make an incision behind your hairline across the top of your head, from ear to ear or primarily on the top of your head. He or she will lift your forehead into its new position, with the scalp in front of the incision overlapping the scalp behind it. The overlapping scalp is then removed and the remaining scalp is sewn together. This technique is not typically done in people who have high hairlines, thin hair or who are likely to lose their hair.
  • Hairline brow lift. Your surgeon will make an incision between the top of your forehead and the beginning of your hairline. He or she will remove a small amount of skin and tissue from the top of your forehead, rather than your scalp. As a result, your hairline won't be pulled back. The technique can yield dramatic improvements in horizontal creases. A hairline brow lift is often used if someone has a high receding hairline. However, depending upon healing, a scar might be visible along the hairline.

Brow lift surgery typically takes about two hours.

After surgery

After a brow lift, your forehead might be taped and your head might be loosely wrapped to minimize swelling. A small tube might be placed along the incision site to drain any excess blood or fluid.

Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for your incisions. In the first few days after a brow lift:

  • Rest with your head elevated and take pain medication as recommended by your doctor
  • Apply cold compresses to relieve swelling
  • Avoid exposing your incisions to excessive pressure or motion

As your incisions heal, you might experience itching and numbness, which will likely diminish over time. If your incisions are covered in bandages, your doctor will likely remove them in one to three days. Sutures typically will be removed within seven to 10 days of surgery.

Ask your doctor when it's OK to resume daily activities, such as washing and drying your hair and bathing. Keep in mind that swelling might last several weeks. Incision lines will fade over time. You might use makeup to conceal any prolonged bruising.

After a brow lift, contact your doctor immediately if you have:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeats
Feb. 13, 2014