BROWLIFT - QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Because informed patients are so important to the success of any plastic surgery, Dr. Robert H. Stubbs, a Canadian and American Board Certified Plastic Surgeon has prepared this web info for you. The web info will give you a basic understanding of the procedure - when it can help, how it is performed and what results you can expect. It can not answer all your questions, since a lot depends on the individual patient and the surgeon. Please ask a certified Plastic Surgeon about anything you do not understand.
Q: WHAT IS A BROWLIFT?
A: As people age, the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun and the stresses of daily life can be seen in their faces. Deep creases form between the eyes, the brows droop and the eyelids become hooded. A browlift (or forehead lift) can not stop this aging process. What it can do is improve the most visible signs of aging by removing and/or tightening brow muscles, smoothing the forehead skin and raising the eyebrows to a more youthful position. A browlift can be done alone or in conjunction with other procedures such as blepharoplasty, facelift, rhinoplasty etc.
Recent advances in plastic surgery have made the forehead lift a relatively simple procedure with results that last from five to ten years or longer. The results should appear natural with a more alert, more animated and more youthful appearance achieved.
Q: WHO ARE THE BEST CANDIDATES FOR A BROWLIFT?
A: A browlift 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 - they must be realistic.
Men and women of any age may be good candidates for a forehead lift. While the procedure is most commonly done on people in their forties to sixties to slow the visible effects of aging, it can also help people with inherited conditions, such as a droopy brow or furrowed lines above the nose.
Men who are balding or women with a high or receded hairline, may still be a good candidate for a browlift. We will simply alter the location of the incision to camouflage it as much as possible. If you have already had plastic surgery on your upper eyelids, a more conservative forehead lift may be in order, to assure that enough skin remains to allow you to close your eyes comfortably after surgery.
Q: WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
A: All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk. Browlifts are normally safe, as long as patients are carefully selected, the operating facility is properly equipped and the physician is a certified Plastic Surgeon.
Nevertheless, individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions and their healing abilities. The outcome is never completely predictable. Complications that can occur include hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin that must be removed by the surgeon), injury to the nerves that control facial muscles and/or sensation (this is usually temporary but may be permanent), infection and reactions to the anesthesia. Occasionally there may be hair loss in the area of the scalp scar and this is usually temporary. Poor healing of the skin and poor scars are most likely to affect smokers. You can reduce your risks by closely following your surgeon's advice both before and after surgery.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE SURGERY?
A: A browlift is a very individualized procedure. In your initial consultation, the surgeon will evaluate your face and eyes, including the skin and underlying bone, and discuss your goals for surgery.
Be honest in discussing your expectations. We will be frank with you, describing the procedure in detail and explaining its risks and limitations. We will also explain the anesthesia used, the location where surgery will be performed and the total costs involved. During this consultation, be sure to tell us about any medications (especially aspirin or other pills that affect clotting), vitamins or other drugs you are taking. Smokers should consider giving up the habit before and after surgery. Then, a complete physical along with blood and urine analysis is arranged.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS ON THE DAY OF SURGERY?
A: The patient should not have had anything to eat or drink after midnight prior to surgery. Pre-op medications should have been taken. Also, transportation and post-op care arrangements should have been made.
Most browlift procedures are performed under deep sedation and local anesthesia. A browlift usually takes 2-3 hours, but the time required may vary considerably depending on the amount of work being done. During this time, the patient is carefully monitored. Your head will not be shaved, although hair immediately in front of the incision line may need to be trimmed. For most patients the incision runs from ear to ear. For others who have a high or receding hairline, the incision is usually made at the hairline to avoid making your forehead appear even higher.
The patient is then monitored in the recovery area for a few hours prior to discharge. It is mandatory for a patient who has had deep sedation to have someone stay with them the first night after surgery. The medications may affect judgment and co-ordination for 24 hours.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER SURGERY?
A: Follow-up visits vary according to the patient and the procedure. Most patients are seen again in 2 days for dressing removal if one was used at surgery. Early post-op instructions usually include taking prescribed medications and keeping your head elevated to reduce swelling.
There isn't usually too much discomfort after surgery; if there is, it can be lessened with the pain medications prescribed. Severe or persistent pain or a sudden swelling of your face should be reported to your surgeon immediately. Some numbness of the skin is normal; it usually disappears in a few weeks or months. Stitches and/or clips are removed between 5-10 days post-op. Minor swelling and bruising can be covered by camouflage makeup.
Most patients are quite active a few days after surgery and many are back to work within a week. The healing process is gradual. While most of the swelling and discoloration will be gone in a couple of weeks, full healing takes many months. It is important in the early healing period to avoid strenuous activities, excessive heat (saunas, steam baths, hair dryers etc.) and sun exposure. Above all get plenty of rest and allow your body to spend its energy on healing.
Q: WHAT ARE THE RESULTS?
A: Most patients are pleased with the younger and more rested post-op appearance. See the Surgical Art Gallery for examples of this procedure.
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