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Women's Health

Forehead Lift

What is a forehead lift?

A forehead lift is a type of cosmetic surgery. It removes excess fat and skin and tightens the muscles in the forehead area. It can also correct sagging brows or deep furrows between the eyes. It is often done along with a facelift, for a smoother facial appearance.

There are 2 types of forehead lift surgery, the classic forehead lift and the endoscopic forehead lift:

  • Classic or coronal forehead lift. The surgeon makes a cut or incision that starts at about ear level and goes across the top of the forehead to the other ear. In some cases, the surgeon may place the incision at the hairline. The surgeon then carefully lifts the skin of the forehead and removes any excess tissue and fat. If needed, the surgeon realigns the muscles. During the procedure, the eyebrows may also be placed at a higher level. Any excess skin is trimmed.

  • Endoscopic forehead lift. The difference between this method and the classic forehead lift is the size of the incision. With the endoscopic forehead lift, the surgeon makes 3 to 5 short scalp incisions that are each less than 1 inch long. A thin tube called an endoscope is then inserted through 1 of the incisions. This tube has a small camera on one end, so the surgeon can see the muscles and tissues underneath. Then the surgeon places another tool that can lift the forehead skin into a different incision. Excess tissue and fat are then removed. If needed, muscles are realigned. Like the classic forehead lift, the eyebrows may also be placed at a higher level. There is minimal scarring and a shorter recovery time than the classic forehead lift.

Possible complications

Any surgery has risks. Possible complications that may happen with a forehead lift include:

  • Scar formation. In rare cases, you may have a scar. Surgery can be done to remove the wide scar tissue. This allows a new, thinner scar to appear.

  • Eyebrow movement problems. Also rare, the nerves that control eyebrow movement may be injured. You may not be able to raise your eyebrows or wrinkle your forehead. Surgery may be needed to fix this problem.

  • Hair loss. You may have hair loss over the scar or just surrounding the scar.

  • Sensation loss. It’s common to lose feeling around the incision. This happens most often with the classic forehead lift. It is often short-term, but can be permanent.

  • Problems during the procedure. During an endoscopic forehead lift, there is a slight chance of problems that could cause the surgeon to switch to the classic forehead lift. This can cause a larger scar and a longer recovery time.

Who are candidates for forehead lift?

A forehead lift can help people of any age who have furrows or frown lines. These may be caused by stress or muscle activity. Or they may be caused by inherited conditions, such as a low, heavy brow or furrowed lines above the nose. But this procedure is most often done on people ages 40 to 60, to reduce the visible signs of aging.

About the procedure

Each procedure will vary, but forehead lift surgeries generally follow this process:

Location options include:

  • Surgeon's office-based surgical facility

  • Outpatient surgery center

  • Hospital outpatient

  • Hospital inpatient

Anasthesia options may include:

  • General anesthesia

  • Local anesthesia, combined with IV or intravenous sedation that allows you to stay awake but relaxed 

Some possible short-term side effects of surgery include:

  • Numbness and temporary discomfort around the incisions

  • Swelling and bruising that may affect your cheeks and eyes

  • Numbness on the top of your scalp that over time may be replaced by itching

  • Pain is usually minimal

Online Medical Reviewer: Lickstein, David, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/27/2016
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