Forehead Lift

Written by Brian Krans | Published on June 26, 2012
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD

What is a Forehead Lift?

A forehead lift is an elective cosmetic surgery that aims to smooth out the skin of the eyebrows and eyelids.

The procedure involves a surgeon making an incision near the hairline and then stretching and “lifting” the skin. The skin is then secured with stitches or staples. A forehead lift is an outpatient procedure, meaning it doesn’t require an overnight stay in a hospital.

Why Would You Get a Forehead Lift?

As we age, the effects of gravity, obesity, poor diet, sun exposure, and other factors can often cause skin on the face to sag, wrinkle, and form deep creases around the mouth, nose, and forehead.

A forehead lift is done to correct sagging eyebrows, frown or scowl lines between the eyebrows or nose, and deep creases in the forehead.

A forehead lift may be done at the same time as other cosmetic procedures, such as a full facelift.

The Risks of Getting a Forehead Lift

Every surgical procedure carries a certain level of risk associated with bleeding, infection, or bad reactions to anesthesia.

Slight pain along with bruising, tenderness, and swelling are common side effects after a facelift and normally subside within two weeks of the procedure.

Rare risks directly associated with a forehead lift include:

  • collection of fluid under the skin
  • difficulty lifting the eyebrows
  • hematoma (blood under the skin that must be drained)
  • numbness or tingling of the skin
  • scarring
  • temporary nerve damage
  • uneven face shape
  • wounds that do not heal

Most people are happy with their procedure and report few lasting problems.

Certain pre-existing medical conditions may cause complications with cosmetic surgery or affect recovery time, such as:

  • blood clotting problems
  • history of excessive scars
  • high blood pressure
  • smoking

Talk to your doctor about these risks and what you can do to lower the likelihood of any serious side effects.

How to Prepare for a Forehead Lift

Your surgeon will give you instructions on how to prepare for your procedure. These may include:

  • arranging for a ride home after the procedure
  • fasting for a period of time, typically 12 hours before the procedure
  • growing out your hair so it covers any incision scars
  • quitting smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke
  • avoiding medications that can affect bleeding, such as aspirin

Talk to your surgeon about any allergies you may have—especially to anesthesia. List any medications you may be taking, including over-the-counter medicines or nutritional supplements.

How a Forehead Lift Is Performed

Just before the forehead lift is performed, you’ll be given a sedative and injections of a local anesthesia to numb your face. You might feel some discomfort as your doctor gently tugs at your skin. If this is a concern, you may ask for general anesthesia so you can sleep through the procedure.

Your surgeon will make an incision near the top of your ear and across your forehead along your hairline. For those with hair loss, the incision may be made higher along the top of your head to reduce the visibility of the scar.

In this incision, your surgeon “undermines” the skin, or loosens it from the underside. This skin is then lifted back and secured in place.

Excess skin may be trimmed and excess fat may be removed via liposuction.

Once your surgeon is happy with the results, he or she will close the incisions with stitches or staples. When the surgery is complete, a nurse will clean and dress your incision. Dressing includes wrapping your face in bandages and an elastic band to help reduce swelling.

You may feel some numbness or discomfort in your face, but this is typically remedied with pain medication.

Recovery and Follow-Up After a Forehead Lift

Your doctor will give you instructions on how to clean and care for your incisions to ensure optimal healing. Recovery takes time and will vary from person to person. You will need to rest and keep your head elevated in the first three days after surgery to prevent swelling. You may notice bruising around your eyes, which is common after surgery, and should go away within a week.

Things to avoid include:

  • any strenuous activity
  • exposure to sunshine
  • taking any aspirin, ibuprofen, or other medications that could affect bleeding
  • showering or shampooing for the first two days
  • smoking, including second-hand smoke
  • unnecessary touching of your forehead

Your stitches will be removed at a follow-up appointment within a week. Stitches and staples are typically removed within 10 to 14 days.

You can expect a certain amount of bruising and swelling after your procedure. Numbness of the forehead is typical. As feeling returns to the area, it is typical to notice itchiness or tingling, which may last up to six months.

Hair will not grow on your scar, but it will in the area around it. Most doctors recommend wearing your hair down to help hide the scar.

You will have follow-up appointments with your surgeon to check on the progress of your healing and to make sure there are no complications.

While this type of cosmetic surgery is generally safe, all surgical procedures carry the risk of bleeding and infection. If you experience any of the following symptoms after your surgery, contact your doctor right away:

  • fever over 100 degrees F
  • seepage from wounds
  • severe pain and discomfort
  • wounds that open
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