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Brow Lift FAQ

Dr. Houtan Chaboki is board-certified in otolaryngology (head and neck surgery) and facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. He has extensive experience performing brow lift surgery in Washington, DC to help his patients feel more attractive and confident. On this page, he has answered many questions he is frequently asked about the brow lift procedure.

To learn more about brow or forehead lift surgery in Washington, DC, request your cosmetic consultation with Dr. Chaboki online or call his office at (202) 800-2085

1. What is a brow lift?
2. What are the different types of brow lift surgery?
3. Can I correct uneven eyebrows or asymmetry with brow lift surgery?
4. Is bone modified during brow lift surgery?
5. How do I know if I need eyelid surgery or a brow lift?
6. Is there a "mini" brow lift or nonsurgical lift with BOTOX® Cosmetic?
7. Is there hair loss after brow lift surgery?
8. Can I change my eye shape with brow lift surgery?
9. Where are the incisions placed for brow lift surgery?
10. How do I lessen or minimize scars after brow lift surgery?
11. How safe is brow lift surgery?
12. How can I reduce the risks of brow lift surgery?
13. What are alternatives to brow lift surgery?
14. What age is appropriate for brow lift surgery?
15. Who is a candidate for brow lift surgery?
16. Is the "XYZ" brow lift surgery worth it?
17. How long will results of brow lift surgery last?
18. Where is brow lift surgery performed?
19. What type of anesthesia is used during brow lift surgery?
20. Can brow lift surgery be done without anesthesia?
21. How do I prepare for brow lift surgery?
22. What are the care instructions after brow lift surgery?
23. What is recovery like after brow lift surgery?
24. How long does it take to recover from brow lift surgery?
25. How painful is brow lift surgery?
26. How long should swelling last after a brow lift surgery?
27. How long should bruising last after brow lift surgery?
28. What can I do to help recovery and reduce swelling or bruising after brow lift surgery?
29. Will smoking affect my recovery after brow lift surgery?
30. What health conditions may limit a successful recovery after brow lift surgery?
31. How long until my brow lift surgery stitches dissolve?
32. When can I wear makeup or contact lenses after brow lift surgery?
33. When can I travel after brow lift surgery?
34. How long is the brow lift surgery procedure?
35. Will I need time off work or school after brow lift surgery?
36. When can I resume regular exercise after brow lift surgery?
37. Can I combine brow lift surgery with other facial plastic surgery?
38. Do I need a brow lift with a face lift?
39. How much time passes between the initial consultation and brow lift surgery?
40. How much does brow lift surgery cost?
41. Does insurance cover brow lift surgery?
42. Where can I get more information on brow lift surgery?

1. What is a brow lift?

A brow lift is a plastic surgery procedure that lifts and stabilizes the eyebrows. Also known as a forehead lift, brow lift surgery is commonly performed with other facial procedures, but may also performed alone.

Brow lift surgery is one of the most common aesthetic procedures for both men and women to rejuvenate the face. Patients appear more rested and refreshed by reducing wrinkles, tightening and lifting the brow tissue.

2. What are the different types of brow lift procedures?

There are several types of brow lift procedures. Dr. Chaboki performs a variety of methods of surgery to rejuvenate the appearance of the eyes. The variation largely depends on where incisions are placed and what tissue is modified during the lift. Brow lift surgery is tailored for each patient.

  • Limited incision: small incisions placed within hair. No skin removed.
  • Endoscopic: small incisions placed within hair. Video camera used to visualize tissue to be modified. No skin removed.
  • Transbleph: incision placed in upper eyelid. No skin removed.
  • Coronal: incision in scalp provides maximize exposure and access to modify the forehead as needed. Skin removed.
  • Direct: incision placed in upper part of brow itself. Skin may or may not be removed.
  • Mid brow: incision placed directly in forehead. Skin removed.
  • Trichophytic: incision placed at junction of forehead and hairline. Skin removed.

3. Can I correct uneven eyebrows or asymmetry with brow lift surgery?

Some asymmetry might be improved with brow lift surgery. As a result, Dr. Chaboki may make modifications on brow lift surgery to improve symmetry.

Keep in mind that a certain degree of asymmetry will still persist and cannot be corrected. For example, patients with asymmetric eyebrows commonly also have asymmetry of the eyes, ears, and face.

4. Is bone modified during brow lift surgery?

Normally, brow lift focuses on modifying the skin of the forehead. Some patients may have bone spurs that may be reduced at the same time as a brow lift, if desired. Patients who have prominent bone of the brow area and would like it softened can have it reshaped at the same time as brow lift.

5. How do I know if I need eyelid surgery or a brow lift?

Upper eyelid surgery primarily removes excess skin from the top eyelid, and generally does not directly change the eyebrow. A brow lift not only lifts the eyebrow, but also pulls up some extra skin from the upper eyelid area. For some, a brow lift alone may be sufficient to improve the appearance of the upper eyelid. For others, an upper blepharoplasty combined with brow lift surgery at the same time is preferred for upper facial rejuvenation.

For more information, read our blog post on brow lift vs. blepharoplasty.

6. Is there a "mini" brow lift or nonsurgical lift with BOTOX® Cosmetic?

The newer techniques of brow lift surgery, such limited incision, endoscopic, or temporal lifts, are generally considered "mini" brow lifts as compared to older brow lift methods. These modern brow lifts do not create the long incision performed with other types of brow plastic surgery, such as coronal lift.

Nonsurgical brow lift can be performed with wrinkle relaxers such as BOTOX® Cosmetic or Dysport®. By relaxing the muscles than pull down the brow, BOTOX can provide a temporary brow lift. Results with a non-surgical brow lift are subtler as compared to surgery.

For more information, read our blog post on lifting the brow without surgery.

7. Is there hair loss after brow lift surgery?

Hair loss (alopecia) may occur with any procedure involving the scalp region. Some brow lift surgeries involve incisions hidden within the hair. That being said, brow lift patients generally do not have hair loss with surgery. Hair loss that might occur is normally temporary. Hair follicles are "hibernating" and re-grow with time. Lastly, hair is not shaved during surgery.

8. Can I change my eye shape with brow lift surgery?

The shape of the eyes may appear to change in some patients after removal of sagging skin, muscle, or fat. Dr. Chaboki's general goal in cosmetic surgery is not necessarily to change people, but rather to improve and freshen their existing appearance.

9. Where are the incisions placed for brow lift surgery?

Incisions for many brow lift techniques, including limited incision and endoscopic brow lifts, are hidden within the hair of the scalp. The incision for a transbleph brow lift is placed in the natural contour of the upper eyelid skin, hidden from view. Direct, mid brow, and trichophytic brow lifts have incisions placed along the eyebrow, forehead, and hairline junction, respectively.

The incision location and length varies largely based on the age of the patient and how much lift he or she needs. Dr. Chaboki will minimize the incision but maximize the lift, without creating an unnatural appearance. The brow lift surgery incision, regardless of exact location, fades from view over time.

10. How do I lessen or minimize scars after brow lift surgery?

The skin and tissue near incisions may appear puffy and pink initially. This puffiness will improve with time. Topical petroleum jelly (e.g., Vaseline® or Aquaphor®) applied to external incisions helps the skin appear its best and reduces scars. Keep incisions moist with petrolatum ointment at all times during the initial healing period. Do not use any other hair products, creams, or lotions, until advised otherwise. In addition, take extra care when combing, brushing, or styling the hair in the early recovery period.

Other methods to maximize skin health include not smoking, staying adequately hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, sleeping well, and using sun protection.

11. How safe is brow lift surgery?

A patient's safety is always our primary concern. Any plastic surgery has inherent risks, but brow lift surgery is considered a safe surgery in healthy patients.

Dr. Chaboki will review your medical history and medications, in addition to an appropriate examination to evaluate not only the aesthetic plan, but also to perform plastic surgery safely. Some patients may also need testing and/or preoperative medical evaluation by their primary care physician before surgery.

12. How can I reduce the risks of brow lift surgery?

Education is the best method to reduce risks. Learning about the procedure and risks, including a discussion with your plastic surgeon helps promote safety.

Follow your plastic surgeon's preoperative and postoperative care instructions. These care instructions are meant as a guide and do not replace specific instructions for you. Preparation reduces risks, both before surgery and during your recovery after cosmetic surgery.

13. What are alternatives to brow lift surgery?

Nonsurgical alternatives to brow lift surgery include BOTOX® Cosmetic or Dysport® injections around the eyes and forehead to reduce wrinkles and improve brow position. Facial fillers (e.g., Restylane® or BELOTERO®) may reduce fine wrinkles and creases. Nonsurgical treatments last several months.

For optimal outcomes in patients with significant excess or loose skin, brow lift surgery is required.

14. What age is appropriate for brow lift surgery?

Patients may start considering cosmetic brow lift surgery at a young age, for those who were born with excess skin or fat. Many patients start considering cosmetic brow lift surgery after age 40.

There isn't an ideal age for brow lift. Dr. Chaboki evaluates an individual's anatomy (skin, muscle, fat, bone, etc.) and discusses the patient's personal preferences (upper eyelid and/or lower eyelid, degree of change, recovery time, etc.). He will then suggest appropriate surgical or nonsurgical procedures based primarily on these 2 factors.

15. Who is a candidate for brow lift surgery?

Brow lift surgery candidates generally have the following qualities, which may vary for each person:

  • Good general health
  • Over 18 years old
  • Excess skin and/or fat of the eyes
  • Droopy or sagging tissue

As a facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Chaboki will tailor the brow lift surgery as appropriate for you. Brow lift surgery is customized to your degree of facial aging, underlying anatomy, and most importantly, your personal goals. Some patients require a limited lift, while other patients would benefit from extensive procedures. A nonsurgical lift may be appropriate for some patients too, especially those with very limited time for recovery. Only after a comprehensive evaluation can Dr. Chaboki help determine appropriate options customized for you.

Patients with some medical conditions or medications may not be good plastic surgery candidates. In addition, those with unrealistic expectations should not have treatments.

16. Is the "XYZ" brow lift surgery worth it?

The best brow lift surgeons tailor each surgery to the specific needs of each patient without any specific branded name. One brow lift surgery is not necessarily better than another. Be cautious when speaking to a branded or trademarked cosmetic surgeon. Keep in mind that safe and reliable brow lift surgery techniques are used by the entire community of plastic surgeons and are not associated with trademarked or branded names.

17. How long will results of brow lift surgery last?

After brow lift surgery, you should look better than nature intended for the remainder of your life. The aging process continues, however, so wrinkles and sagging skin will reappear years after facial surgery. You can always expect to look better than if you had not had the procedure in the first place. Patients may consider nonsurgical treatments to help maintain a rejuvenated appearance after cosmetic surgery.

18. Where is brow lift surgery performed?

Dr. Chaboki practices facial plastic surgery at several DC-area surgical facilities to accommodate his patients:

  • Georgetown University Medical Center
  • The George Washington University Medical Center
  • Sibley Memorial Hospital
  • MedStar Surgery Center

Minor procedures with local anesthesia are performed in the DC office. Surgical procedures with IV (twilight) sedation or general anesthesia are performed at accredited facilities with a board-certified anesthetist.

19. What type of anesthesia is used during brow lift surgery?

Nonsurgical brow or forehead procedures (using BOTOX® or Restylane®) are performed in the office with local anesthesia. Minor surgery (e.g., direct brow lift) is also normally performed with local anesthesia. Brow lift surgery may be performed with either IV (twilight) sedation or general anesthesia at accredited facilities with a licensed anesthetist.

Patients are safe and comfortable during their procedures. The decision on the type of anesthesia used during plastic surgery depends on the extent of surgery, additional cosmetic surgery procedures along with the brow lift surgery, patient factors and preference, and surgeon factors and preference. After an evaluation, the plastic surgeon and patient decide together the appropriate anesthesia type for plastic surgery.

20. Can brow lift surgery be done without anesthesia?

All plastic surgery procedures require some form of anesthesia, even if minimal. The minimal amount of anesthesia is referred to as local anesthesia, where ice, vibration, numbing cream, and/or local injection is used to numb the treated area. Only the treated area is numbed, and the patient remains awake, alert, and comfortable. Nonsurgical office treatments (e.g., BOTOX® or Restylane®) are often performed via local anesthesia. Most brow lift surgery is performed with either IV (twilight) sedation or general anesthesia.

21. How do I prepare for brow lift surgery?

Safety is our primary concern, and perioperative instructions can help reduce the risks associated with plastic surgery and anesthesia. In addition, preparation before brow lift surgery helps maximize recovery after plastic surgery. Each patient and procedure is unique, so variations will occur and be specific for each patient. Patients must read the care instructions before any procedure.

Common preparation tips prior to or after any plastic surgery procedure:

  • Avoid blood-thinning medications or supplements, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, herbal supplements.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid excess salts in your diet, including processed and fast food.
  • Strictly avoid smoking.

22. What are the care instructions after brow lift surgery?

General instructions for before and after plastic surgery can be found on our Care Instructions page. Dr. Chaboki may provide specific instructions for individual patients personalized to their procedure. This will be discussed extensively both before and after the procedure.

23. What is recovery like after brow lift surgery?

Downtime after cosmetic procedures varies from a few hours to several days, depending on the specific procedure and areas treated. Office procedures are performed under local anesthesia, if any anesthesia is required. Surgical procedures are performed with either IV (twilight) sedation or general anesthesia and require a longer recovery period. Anesthesia normally wears off within the first 24 hours after surgery.

24. How long does it take to recover from brow lift surgery?

Every patient will recover at a unique rate. There are 3 general phases of healing after any plastic surgery: early (days/weeks), intermediate (weeks/months), and late (months/years). The phases of recovery don't have distinct transitions between them.

The early phase of healing occurs within the first days and weeks after plastic surgery. Most of bruising and swelling resolves during this early phase, including stitches dissolving or being removed. Generally, patients report not requiring pain medication after the first day or so after brow lift surgery.

On average, patients are "back to normal" approximately 2 weeks after plastic surgery. Exercise may be resumed after 2 weeks, around the time when the intermediate phase of healing begins. During the first couple months after plastic surgery, skin continues to tighten and swelling continues to resolve. Patients have already returned to work or school by this intermediate healing time frame. Any residual swelling is usually noticeable by the patient only.

The last phase of healing really takes several months to years, as gradual changes continue to occur in the skin and tissue. Any external scars and residual mild swelling continue to fade. Patients should continue healthy habits to maintain their aesthetic results, such as eating a healthy diet, routinely exercising, avoiding excess salt or processed foods, using consistent sun protection, avoiding smoking, and getting adequate sleep.

25. How painful is brow lift surgery?

Patients are comfortable during surgery, whether the procedure is performed in the office via local anesthesia or in a surgical facility with IV sedation. Patients may experience a very brief, mild sting from the initial numbing medication.

A certain level of discomfort is normal and expected after plastic surgery. Patients often describe sensations as tightness, soreness, or discomfort that is easily managed by oral pain medication (e.g., acetaminophen, codeine). Many patients have reported not requiring prescription pain medication after the first day or so.

Severe pain, which is unusual, should always be reported immediately to your plastic surgeon.

26. How long should swelling last after a brow lift?

The immediate swelling after brow lift surgery may last approximately a week or 2, depending on several factors. After this initial healing period, swelling is still present, but usually only noticeable by the patient. The very last tiny bit of swelling takes several months to gradually dissolve.

It's possible to have swelling in areas of the face and eyes adjacent to the surgery site, even though plastic surgery was not necessarily performed in those areas. This extension of facial swelling is due to gravity and the natural movement of fluid in the tissues. In addition, keep in mind that the eyelids, face, and nose are very sensitive to swelling from other factors, such as allergies, diet, hormones, gravity, sleep, etc.

27. How long should bruising last after brow lift surgery?

Bruising improves faster than swelling after plastic surgery. On average, most bruising resolves within the first 1 to 2 weeks in the early phase of healing.

28. What can I do to help recovery and reduce swelling or bruising after brow lift surgery?

Any plastic surgery procedure (surgical or nonsurgical) may result in bruising and swelling, which may peak in the first day before improving. In addition, the bruising generally fades away faster than swelling. Lastly, surgical procedures tend to swell or bruise more, as compared to nonsurgical treatments performed in the office.

To ensure the best outcomes after brow lift surgery, make sure to read and follow our plastic surgery care instructions and the following guidelines below:

Avoid Blood Thinners
Some normal medications or herbs may worsen bruising. Stop all ibuprofen, aspirin and aspirin-like products for at least 2 weeks prior to your procedure. Avoid any herbal teas, supplements, or medications which thin the blood such as St. John's wort, ginkgo, ginger, garlic, ginseng, kava, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Elevate Your Head
Let gravity play a role in the recovery process. Positioning your head on top of a few pillows, or elevated mattress top, will help reduce bruising and swelling in the treated area. Avoid bending over too.

Apply Ice
In addition to reducing swelling, a cool compress helps constrict blood vessels which may decrease the extent of bruising. Ice, however, should not be placed directly on the skin. A soft cloth helps spread the cooling effects. Ice is the most important during the first 2 days after cosmetic treatments.

Avoid Heavy Activity
Heavy or strenuous activity that increases the heart rate or blood pressure can increase bruising and delay recovery. Heavy activities to avoid include, but are not limited to, all types of exercise and sex. Even lighter activity, such as yoga should be avoided. This restriction on activity is for the first 2 weeks after plastic surgery.

Try Arnica Montana and Bromelain
Herbal supplements that help some patients reduce bruising and swelling include Arnica montana and bromelain. Both of these are available over-the-counter without prescription. You should look for these supplements in a tablet form. Bromelain is also found in pineapples.

29. Will smoking affect my recovery after brow lift surgery?

Smoking adversely affects health and recovery after plastic surgery. Treated areas are at a greater risk of poor healing, scarring and infection. Blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the tissues shrink up and subsequently prevent optimal healing.

Patients must stop smoking for a minimum of 2 weeks prior to surgery to decrease the risk of these complications, and continue smoking cessation after the procedure. Cosmetic surgery is an opportunity to quit smoking all together.

30. What health conditions may limit a successful recovery after brow lift surgery?

Dr. Chaboki performs a history and physical on all patients prior to undergoing cosmetic treatments. Brow lift surgery may be safely performed on many chronic, stable medical conditions. However, brow lift surgery may be delayed or cancelled as needed for patient safety. Dr. Chaboki will work with his cosmetic patients to help find a safe, appropriate aesthetic option if brow lift surgery cannot be performed.

31. How long until my brow lift surgery stitches dissolve?

Dissolving sutures may be used for brow lift surgery. Skin sutures usually dissolve or are removed within the first couple weeks after surgery.

32. When can I wear makeup or contact lenses after brow lift surgery?

Makeup should not be used around the operated area for the first week after surgery. Contact lenses are usually allowed after the first week from brow lift surgery. As healing is monitored, Dr. Chaboki will help determine an appropriate time to resume makeup on operated areas.

33. When can I travel after brow lift surgery?

Patients should remain in the area at least the first day after plastic surgery. Regional travel by car is allowed the following day after surgery. Patients should wait at least one week before air travel after plastic surgery, but waiting 2 weeks is preferred. The risks associated with travel reduce with time.

34. How long is the brow lift surgery procedure?

Brow lift surgery is a relatively quick surgical procedure. However, the length of surgery depends on the complexity and number of procedures performed. Dr. Chaboki will discuss the length of your individual procedure with you prior to the date of the brow lift surgery.

35. Will I need time off work or school after brow lift surgery?

Patients can go to work or school the next day or work from home, if desired. Most patients, however, plan at least one week off from work or school after plastic surgery. A longer period of recovery may be necessary for combined procedures.

36. When can I resume regular exercise after brow lift surgery?

Strenuous activities or exercise after plastic surgery will increase the risk of bleeding, swelling, and bruising. Activity restriction during the recovery period varies based on the operation performed and patient's medical condition. Light activities, such as slow walking, may be performed soon after anesthesia. Heavy activity, such as aerobics, yoga, cycling, running, heavy lifting, or similar vigorous activities are allowed after 2 weeks from the procedure. Contact sports are generally allowed after 6 weeks from surgery.

37. Can I combine brow lift surgery with other facial plastic surgery?

Yes, it's generally preferred to combine procedures such as brow lift surgery with a facelift, eyelid surgery, or another complementary treatment. First, by combining surgeries, you may save money on some fees. Secondly, tissue modified from one area may be used for another surgical area. Lastly, by combining the recovery processes, you minimize downtime from work, school and physical activities. Commonly combined procedures with brow lift surgery include the following:

38. Do I need a brow lift with a facelift?

Combined brow lift, eyelid lift, and facelift surgery is referred to as a "full facelift". Facial plastic surgery is tailored to the unique needs of each patient, based on several factors such as individual anatomy, degree of facial aging, medical conditions, and patient personal preferences. While a brow lift, eyelid lift, and/or facelift are commonly performed together, these procedures don't have to be performed at the same time.

39. How much time passes between the initial consultation and brow lift surgery?

Generally, a minimum of 2 weeks are allowed from the consultation to prepare for surgery. Select procedures may be performed earlier. Nonsurgical procedures may be performed at the same time as the initial consultation.

40. How much does brow lift surgery cost?

The cost of plastic surgery involves a variety of factors:

  • The surgeon's fee for performing the procedure
  • Hospital, operating room, or facility charges
  • Anesthesia fees
  • Cost of supplies or implants
  • Laboratory, radiology, or testing fees

The surgeon's fee is for performing the procedure -- not for results. No results are guaranteed. Estimates of these fees are provided to patients. Keep in mind that additional unforeseen costs may occur (e.g., secondary or revision surgery, postoperative testing, specialists' consultation) which would be the patient's responsibility.

Other factors that may affect brow lift cost:

  • Combined procedures - Efficiency generally reduces the costs of surgery. For example, combined upper blepharoplasty with a brow lift in a single surgery is more cost-effective than performing each procedure separately.
  • Complexity - Extensive or revision procedures may require more time, materials, or anesthesia than simple procedures isolated to specific areas.

41. Does insurance cover brow lift surgery?

Plastic surgery covers a broad area of medicine, which includes both reconstructive procedures and cosmetic procedures. If your procedure is medically indicated, some portion of the cost may be covered by your insurance plan. Insurance coverage varies greatly for patients, and patients are ultimately responsible for fees.

42. Where can I get more information on brow lift surgery?

An office examination with a facial plastic surgeon can provide further information specific for you regarding brow lift surgery. Continue doing your research before speaking with a specialist and bring your questions to the office. Schedule a consultation today!

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    Houtan Chaboki, M.D.