Learn more about the procedure, including the average brow lift cost, the types of brow lifts, and what recovery is like.
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shot of a woman against a pink background Drawing focus to her eyebrows
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Even though they don't take up that much real estate on your face, your eyebrows play a major role in your features, which is probably why so many methods for brow hair removal, tattooing, tinting, and makeup application exist. Along with shaping or filling in your eyebrows, changing their position by even by a fraction of an inch can be impactful.

And plenty of people seem to think so — that is, based on the popularity of brow lifts. Demand for the procedure was "significantly up" in 2021 compared to previous years, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2021 member survey. While thread lifts and the "Botox brow lift" have seen their own rises in popularity, plenty of people are still opting for a more permanent change.

If you're curious about the pros and cons of the procedure and what it entails, here's what you should know.

What Is a Brow Lift?

As you've probably gathered, a brow lift is a surgical cosmetic procedure that lifts the brow. "Brow" in this context isn't just shorthand for "eyebrow," thought: A brow lift raises the entire brow region, which technically extends from the eyebrow to the top of the forehead, according to Robert Schwarcz, M.D., F.A.C.S., a double board-certified oculofacial plastic surgeon in New York. (That's why the procedure is sometimes referred to as a "forehead lift.")

Typically, people seek out a brow lift for any of four reasons, according to Michael Horn, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon at Lake Shore Plastic Surgery in Chicago. They might want to reinstate a natural eyebrow arch that's sunken with age, reverse eyelid sagging, reduce fine lines at the outer corners of their eyes, or remove excess skin within the brow region, he says. (Related: Brow Lamination Is the Secret to Perpetually Fluffy Brows)

What Are the Types of Brow Lifts?

Surgeons can choose from five different techniques when performing a brow lift. Here's a brief rundown of each from Dr. Schwarcz.

Coronal Brow Lift

This technique uses an incision that runs from the top of one of your ears, straight across the top of your head to your other ear. This is an older technique that's not common today, he says. Some downsides of the coronal brow lift are that it's more invasive than other alternatives and that patients can lose a strip of hair along the incision that's cut out during the procedure, moving their hairline upward. Since it's more invasive, recovery tends to take longer than other methods.

Endoscopic Brow Lift

One of the most common approaches to a brow lift, an endoscopic brow lift involves making small incisions along the hairline. Surgeons then use an endoscope (a camera) to get a clear view of the area without having to make a large incision. This allows them to safely detach, lift, and re-affix the brow to the scull.  

Trichophytic Brow Lift

Another common approach, a trichophytic brow lifts involves making an incision from the tail of one brow, across the hairline to the tail of the other brow. This is a hair-sparing method (meaning patients don't lose any hair in the process), and it shortens the forehead — a plus for patients who might feel like their forehead is too tall.

Direct Brow Lift

This method involves making incisions above either eyebrow, so it's best suited for people who have bushy eyebrows that can hide the resulting scars. The surgeon removes a small section of skin above the eyebrows, which results in an elevated eyebrow.

Mid-Forehead Brow Lift

This technique involves making incisions in the middle of the forehead, so it's typically used for people who have deep forehead wrinkles that can hide a scar. While it's relatively uncommon, this may be the preferable choice for someone who is bald and would have a very noticeable scar from one of the other routes.

Are Some People Unsatisfied with Their Brow Lift Results?

As with any cosmetic surgery, a brow lift carries the risk of not liking your results. "The most common complaint some surgeons hear is that the eyebrows are not symmetrical," says Dr. Horn. "Another frequent complaint if the surgery is not done skillfully is that the eyebrows have been lifted too high, and the patient has a look of constant surprise." Numbness or changes in skin sensation can also occur, he says. "Most likely these are not permanent, but it may take several months to resolve," says Dr. Horn. (Related: A TikToker Says Her Smile Was 'Botched' After Getting Botox for TMJ)

While these are real possibilities, they're avoidable if you choose the right surgeon, according to Dr. Schwarcz. "I think that brow lifts have had kind of a bad name for a while because you can easily overcorrect the brow and get a surprised look." For this reason, he prefers to take a conservative approach. "A brow lift is just a way to make the eye look better," he says, "it's not to change the shape of the eyebrows or make them go up higher, it's just to expose more of the eyelid area so that the eyes look better."

What Is Brow Lift Surgery Like?

Brow lift surgery can be performed under general anesthesia (the strongest sedation technique) or intravenous sedation with local anesthesia (when patients are sedated through an IV and a numbing medication is used), and incisions are closed with sutures or staples that are removed after one week, according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS). Swelling, bruising, and discomfort are common in the 10 days following surgery, and most people are able to return to a sedentary job one week after their procedure. The average brow lift cost is $3,900, according to 2020 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

If you decide to seek out the procedure, the key to a smooth experience is to choose a surgeon carefully. "First, make sure your plastic surgeon is board certified by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons," advises Dr. Horn. (You can search for surgeons through the org's website.) He suggests booking consultations with a minimum of three doctors and narrowing down your choice from there. "Some plastic surgeons tend to do more body procedures than facial and vice versa. Speak with your plastic surgeon to get a sense of their practice's focus." It's also helpful to review surgeons' websites, look at their brow lift before and after photos, and ask for patient references you can speak with, he says.

If you're hoping to tweak the upper portion of your face, the brow lift is one of many courses of action you can consider. A plastic surgeon can help you weigh your options to find clarity on whether it's right for you.