Deep furrows on the forehead, frown lines over the eyes, drooping eyebrows and hood-like skin over the eyes are all conditions that can make you look older than you are or feel. Whether age or heredity causes these conditions, a forehead lift (or brow lift) can give you a more youthful, animated and alert appearance.
Forehead lifts are usually performed under local anesthesia, supplemented by a mild sedative to keep you relaxed, yet awake. Dr. Pletsch utilizes a special technique (endoscopic procedure) that allows her to make a much smaller incision just above the hairline. Recovery time is reduced with minimal scarring. Forehead and brow lifts may be performed alone, or along with other procedures such as a facelift or eyelid surgery.
A forehead lift can smooth the forehead, raise the upper eyelids, and minimize the frown lines that come with aging.
In preparation for a forehead lift, the hair is tied back with rubber bands in front of and behind the incision area. An incision is usually made across the top of the head, just behind the hairline.
Forehead skin is gently lifted and portions of facial muscle and excess skin are removed. The incision is then closed with stitches or clips.
The result of a forehead lift is a younger, more rested look.
If You're Considering a Forehead Lift...
A forehead lift or browlift is a procedure that restores a more youthful, refreshed look to the area above the eyes. The procedure corrects drooping brows and improves the horizontal lines and furrows that can make a person appear angry, sad or tired.
In a forehead lift, the muscles and tissues that cause the furrowing or drooping are removed or altered to smooth the forehead, raise the eyebrows and minimize frown lines. Your surgeon may use the conventional surgical method, in which the incision is hidden just behind the hairline; or it may be performed with the use of an endoscope, a viewing instrument that allows the procedure to be performed with minimal incisions. Both techniques yield similar results -- smoother forehead skin and a more animated appearance.
If you're considering a forehead lift, this brochure will provide a basic understanding of the procedure -- when it can help, how it's performed and what results you can expect. It won't answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Be sure to ask your doctor if there is anything you don't understand about the procedure.
The Best Candidates for a Brow Lift
A forehead lift is most commonly performed in the 40-60 age range to minimize the visible effects of aging. However, it can also help people of any age who have developed furrows or frown lines due to stress or muscle activity. Individuals with inherited conditions, such as a low, heavy brow or furrowed lines above the nose can achieve a more alert and refreshed look with this procedure.
Forehead lift is often performed in conjunction with a facelift to provide a smoother overall look to the face. Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) may also be performed at the same time as a forehead lift, especially if a patient has significant skin overhang in the upper eyelids. Sometimes, patients who believe they need upper-eyelid surgery find that a forehead lift better meets their surgical goals.
Patients who are bald, who have a receding hairline, or who have had previous upper-eyelid surgery may still be good candidates for forehead lift. The surgeon will simply alter the incision location or perform a more conservative operation.
Remember, a forehead lift can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won't necessarily change your looks to match your ideal or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them in detail with your doctor.
All Surgery Carries Some Uncertainty and Risk
Complications are rare and usually minor when a forehead lift is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. Yet, the possibility of complications must be considered.
In rare cases, the nerves that control eyebrow movement may be injured on one or both sides, resulting in a loss of ability to raise the eyebrows or wrinkle the forehead. Additional surgery may be required to correct the problem.
Formation of a broad scar is also a rare complication. This may be treated surgically by removing the wide scar tissue so a new, thinner scar may result. Also, in some patients, hair loss may occur along the scar edges.
Loss of sensation along or just beyond the incision line is common, especially with the classic forehead lift procedure. It is usually temporary, but may be permanent in some patients.
Infection and bleeding are very rare, but are possibilities.
If a complication should occur during an endoscopic forehead lift, your surgeon may have to abandon the endoscopic approach and switch to the conventional, open procedure, which will result in a more extensive scar and a longer recovery period. To date, such complications are rare -- estimated at less than 1 percent of all endoscopy procedures.
You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following your surgeon's instructions both before and after surgery.
Planning Your Surgery
For a better understanding of how a forehead lift might change your appearance, look into a mirror and place the palms of your hands at the outer edges of your eyes, above your eyebrows. Gently draw the skin up to raise the brow and the forehead area. That is approximately what a forehead lift would do for you.
If you decide to consult a plastic surgeon, he or she will first evaluate your face, including the skin and underlying bone.
During your consultation, the surgeon will discuss your goals for the surgery and ask you about certain medical conditions that could cause problems during or after the procedure, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood-clotting problems, or the tendency to develop large scars. Be sure to tell the surgeon if you have had previous facial surgery, if you smoke, or if you take any drugs or medications -- including aspirin or other drugs that affect clotting.
If you decide to proceed with a forehead lift, your surgeon will explain the surgical technique, the recommended type of anesthesia, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, the risks and the costs involved. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results of surgery.
Preparing For Your Surgery
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions to prepare for the procedure, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking and avoiding certain vitamins and medications. Carefully following these instructions will help your surgery and your recovery proceed more smoothly.
If your hair is very short, you may wish to let it grow out before surgery, so that it's long enough to hide the scars while they heal.
Whether your forehead lift is done in an outpatient facility or in the hospital, you should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and to help you out for a day or two.
Where Your Surgery Will Be Performed
A forehead lift is usually done in a surgeon's office-based facility or an outpatient surgery center. However, it is occasionally done in the hospital.
Anesthesia Used for The Procedure
Most forehead lifts are performed under local anesthesia, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You'll be awake but relaxed, and although you may feel some tugging and mild discomfort, your forehead will be insensitive to pain.
Some surgeons prefer to use general anesthesia, in which case you'll sleep through the entire operation.
Brow Lift Surgery With the Endotine Device
The endoscopic forehead lift requires the same preparation steps as the traditional procedure: the hair is tied back and trimmed behind the hairline where the incisions will be made.
However, rather than making one long coronal incision, your surgeon will make three, four or five short scalp incisions, each less than an inch in length. An endoscope, which is a pencil-like camera device connected to a television monitor, is inserted through one of the incisions, allowing the surgeon to have a clear view of the muscles and tissues beneath the skin. Using another instrument inserted through a different incision, the forehead skin is lifted and the muscles and underlying tissues are removed or altered to produce a smoother appearance. The eyebrows may also be lifted and secured into their higher position.
Dr. Pletsch uses the Endotine Forehead device during endoscopic brow lift surgery, offering patients a novel and elegant solution for elevating the forehead tissue. Its unique structure provides multiple points of contact with the elevated forehead tissue in order to create a more even and gentle distribution of holding strength. Other options such as screws and sutures typically provide only one point of contact which may tear through the soft tissues, adversely affecting brow lift reliability.
When the lift is complete, the scalp incisions will be closed with stitches or clips and the area will be washed. Gauze and an elastic bandage may also be used, depending on your surgeon's preference.
After Your Surgery
The immediate post-operative experience for a patient who has had a classic forehead lift may differ significantly from a patient who had the procedure performed endoscopically.
Endoscopic forehead lift patients may experience some numbness, incision discomfort and mild swelling. Incision site pain is usually minimal, but can be controlled with medication, if necessary. Endoscopic forehead lift patients usually experience less of the itching sensation felt by patients who have had the classic forehead lift.
The stitches or staples used to close the incisions are usually removed within a week. With the Endotine device, there is no need to remove screws, since the device is absorbed over time. Another advantage of the Endotine device is the ability for your surgeon to adjust the forehead tissues if necessary, allowing the surgeon to continue to shape and contour the forehead. This provides you—and the surgeon—greater aesthetic control of your brow height and shape.
Getting Back to Normal
Although you should be up and about in a day or two, plan on taking it easy for at least the first week after surgery. You should be able to shower and shampoo your hair within two days, or as soon as the bandage is removed.
Most patients are back to work or school in a week to 10 days. Endoscopic patients may feel ready to return even sooner. Vigorous physical activity should limited for several weeks, including jogging, bending, heavy housework, sex, or any activity that increases your blood pressure. Prolonged exposure to heat or sun should be limited for several months.
Most of the visible signs of surgery should fade completely within about three weeks. Minor swelling and bruising can be concealed with special camouflage makeup. You may feel a bit tired and let down at first, but your energy level will increase as you begin to look and feel better.
Your New Look
Most patients are pleased with the results of a forehead lift, no matter which surgical method was used. Often, patients don't realize how much their sagging forehead contributed to the signs of aging until they see how much younger and more rested they appear after the lift.
Although a forehead lift does not stop the clock, it can minimize the appearance of aging for years. As time passes, you may want to repeat the procedure.
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