The Aesthetic Trend That Is — Literally — Raising Eyebrows

Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid are just a few of the stars who have embraced a more exaggerated brow shape. So, is the trend here to stay? The AEDITION asks the experts.
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Written by Krista Smith
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The Aesthetic Trend That Is — Literally — Raising EyebrowsDFree/Shutterstock

Recent years have brought about a brow boom. From microblading (and its more refined cousin, microfeathering) and brow lamination to neurotoxin and filler injections, eyebrows are — quite literally — reaching new heights. While pencil-thin arches were all the rage in early ‘90s and a fuller, bushier brow has returned in recent years, the current trend is less about size and more about shape.

A scroll through your Instagram feed will likely show a growing group of influencers and models embracing a wide-eyed look that’s just a hair short of ‘surprised.’ So, what’s behind the eyebrow-raising aesthetic? “Currently, brow lifts are extremely popular amongst younger women,” says Kian Karimi, MD, a board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in Los Angeles. “The brow beauty standards have changed a bit because some public figures such as Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski have been showing very heightened, almost exaggerated brows and this has become extremely popular.”

Many reports recommend the so-called ‘Botox® Brow Lift’ to achieve the stars' major arch emphasis, injections aren’t the only way to change the shape of the brow. Here, The AEDITION breaks down the surgical and non-surgical brow shaping solutions that are currently trending.

Non-Surgical and Surgical Brow Lift Techniques

As with everything in aesthetic medicine, there is no such thing as one size fits all. In the case of brow lifts, there are a trio of techniques for patients to consider depending on their needs and desired result. “There are three main methods for elevating the brows: Botox® injections, thread lifts, and surgical lifts, which can be traditional or endoscopic (i.e. performed in conjunction with a tiny camera),” says Jason Roostaenian, MD, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon at UCLA. “The modality a surgeon chooses will depend on each patient’s anatomy and goals, as well as the practitioner’s personal preference and skill set.”

The Botox Brow Lift

“Botox® has been the traditional way we’ve been able to accomplish brow lifts in the office,” Dr. Kian shares. “By injecting Botox® in the muscles that pull the tail of the eyebrow down, we are able to enjoy elevation of the brow. This is a really great way to get two to three millimeters of elevation of the brow, which is typically all someone needs.”

As he explains it, neurotoxin injections work best for a patient who experiences brow drooping and crow’s feet around the eyes when they smile. Like most Botox® treatments, the results take about five to seven days to kick in and last three to four months. Comparatively speaking, injections are the most budget-friendly brow lift option (they typically cost a few hundred dollars, depending on the practice), though they require regular maintenance.

Thread Brow Lifts

Given the recent rise of minimally invasive thread lifts for the face, it should come as no surprise that the technique is being considered for eyebrows, too. “A thread brow lift is a very popular, trending procedure,” Dr. Kian says. “A dissolvable thread — like a PDO thread — is used to elevate the tail of the brow to achieve an exaggerated brow look.”

While the procedure delivers a more pronounced lift than can be achieved with Botox® alone, Dr. Kian warns that it does not last very long and can yield an unnatural result. “I’ve seen cases where the far tail of the brow is elevated, and it kind of gives the brow an unnatural appearance and loses its natural arch,” he explains. “The lift itself won’t last very long because these threads are very thin, and they aren’t fixated on any tissues. The results could last maybe a month at the maximum.”

As such, Dr. Kian doesn’t recommend the procedure on its own. “I don’t think it looks that good,” he says. “The tissue in this area is quite thin, so the only type of threads you can use are thinner. I’ve seen thicker threads used, and it can lead to a lot of pain. The threads may even need to be removed.” The price of the thread lift depends on the provider, but it can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Surgical Brow Lifts

For those seeking a longer lasting result, a surgical brow lift represents the most permanent option. “A surgical brow lift can be done many different ways, but most modern surgeons are using small incisions hidden within the hairline to completely release the brow and fixate it onto deeper tissues,” Dr. Kian explains, adding that the benefits typically last five to 10 years.

“There are a few surgical techniques that can lift the entire brow area, including a forehead lift and a coronal brow lift,” Dr. Jason says. “But, anytime we’re talking about elevating the lateral brow, my preferred approach is a temporal brow lift. We make an incision hidden in the hairline and raise the underlying tissues to restore a more youthful appearance.”

Both providers agree that the surgery, which involves about a week of downtime, is an option for anyone who has drooping brows and is looking for a long-term correction. Dr. Jason notes that he has seen an influx of younger patients inquiring about brow lifts (a trend he attributes to social media), but it can also be performed to complement other facial rejuvenation procedures.

“Sometimes we do it in conjunction with a facelift, a blepharoplasty, and a bit of Botox® to soften the frown lines,” Dr. Jason says. “Anyone who’s experiencing lateral hooding — sagging of the tail that pushes the upper eyelid down — is a candidate for a surgical procedure. Though some people are wary of cosmetic surgery, it’s much longer lasting, economical, and less risky than repeated thread lifts, which can cause infection, pain, and scar tissue buildup.” According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS), the average cost of a surgical brow lift was $3,600 in 2018 — though it can be upwards of $10,000 depending on the provider.

So, What’s the Best Way to Achieve a High-Brow Look?

As it turns out, the most effective brow lift choice may be a hybrid. “For our younger patients, we actually use a trifecta approach to the brow,” Dr. Kian says. “We like using Botox®, filler, and threads — but not the type of threads where it creates an unnatural appearance.”

Dr. Kian performing a PDO thread brow lift.

As he explains it, many patients are dealing with a “deflated” tail of the brow, which is best treated with a combination of techniques. “If we put a little bit of filler into the tail — or into the temple, if it is hollow — we add support to the tail, providing the foundation of a good brow lift,” he says. “Then, we put smooth, dissolvable PDO threads above the brow. It’s not to artificially raise it, but to get some tightening above the brow, which will give a more natural elevation over time. Finally, the last thing we do is sprinkle a little Botox® into the muscle that pulls the tail of the brow down.”

While the results will not be as long lasting as a surgical brow lift, they will have longevity. “When all of these things are done together, it produces a natural, beautiful, and long lasting brow lift,” Dr. Kian shares.

The Takeaway

It goes without saying that beauty trends come and go. The exaggerated arches that are ‘in’ today can be ‘out’ tomorrow. “We went through a period of time where lower brows were considered to be more attractive and natural. Now, the pendulum has shifted the other way,” Dr. Kian explains. “I do think this elevated brow phenomenon is more a fad than a new trend of beauty. I suspect that over time a slightly lowered brow will be preferred on the faces we find most beautiful.”

But, that’s not to say the brow lift doesn’t always serve a purpose. “As surgical brow lift techniques have improved, we’re able to provide our patients with a natural look that never goes out of style,” Dr. Jason says. At the end of the day, it’s about finding the best treatment option for your concerns and ideal aesthetic.

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KRISTA SMITHis a contributing writer for AEDIT.

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