Brow Lift Recovery

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We know how life-changing the results of a brow lift can be, but what does it take to get there? From the moment the surgeon closes the last incision to the day you’re finally healed, we’ve got all the details on the brow lift recovery process.

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The Skinny


A brow lift, or forehead lift, is a plastic surgery procedure to alter the appearance of the forehead, brow, and even the appearance of the hairline. The majority of brow lifts are performed surgically. The exception? A so-called chemical brow lift that utilizes a neurotoxin, like Botox®, to subtly lift the brow.

Historically, there have been several brow lift techniques including coronal brow lift, pretrichial brow lift, traditional mid-forehead brow lift, and direct brow lift. Today, however, the most popular and common surgical brow lift technique is the endoscopic brow lift, which also just so happens be the least invasive of the bunch (aside from the complete lack of downtime and recovery associated with a chemical brow lift).

The Specifics


What to Expect During Brow Lift Recovery


So, what’s it actually like to create your dream forehead and brow aesthetic? Regardless of the surgical technique, all candidates can expect pain, swelling, and bruising following this cosmetic surgery. While specific recovery time will vary by invasiveness of your procedure and how your body heals, one to two weeks is a safe amount of time to assume you’re going to feel significantly uncomfortable and not be looking your best.

Another factor is how you recover from general anesthesia if this is a component of your procedure. Many people feel nauseous, drowsy, and slightly disoriented in the hours following anesthesia. These side effects usually resolve relatively quickly, as the sedating medications wear off, but it is still a part of the immediate post-op recovery.

The Ultimate Brow Lift Recovery Timeline

Ok, let’s get into the nitty gritty of brow lift recovery. We’ll start with how to utilize your pre-surgical time to reduce the intensity of your post-surgical experience. Then we’ll look at what you can expect from the first few days, weeks, months, and, yes, even years. Remember, there will be timing differences between surgical techniques, and we’ll note this as we move along the timeline.

It should also be noted that your surgeon should provide comprehensive pre- and post-op instructions, and you should always defer to the advice of your medical team. This is simply meant to serve as a guide.

  • Pre-Op

    • Stop smoking, drinking alcohol, taking certain supplements, and reduce caffeine intake a few days prior to surgery. This reduces inflammatory markers and promotes overall health, optimizing you for a successful and speedy recovery.
    • Get your supplies together! Have the essentials like ice packs, pain and inflammation medications (like aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen), nasal sprays, any medications your doctor suggests (like antibiotic ointments), and a comfortable pillow for your neck. Check out our complete guide to recovering from cosmetic procedures in comfort and style to learn more.

  • Immediately Post-Op

    • Depending on how you react to general anesthesia, you may be drowsy, disoriented, and nauseous. Even if you’re lucky enough to tolerate anesthesia well, you should expect to feel sore and swollen. Your throat and mouth will be dry, your face and scalp will feel numb and tingly, and you might have a bit of a tension headache. These side effects should wear off within a few hours.
    • Remember part of general anesthesia is stronger pain medications given through an IV and local anesthesia that will have you waking up numb but not with sharp pain. As these medicines wear off, you should expect a feel more intense (but not severe) pain. Your doctor will tell you what pain medicines are most appropriate for you post-op.

  • Day 1

    • So, you hopefully got some sleep lying on your back with your head elevated (fun!). You hopefully kept an ice pack and your pain or inflammation meds nearby. Medicines like ibuprofen or acetaminophen are important not only for pain control, but also for regulating inflammation to promote faster recovery.
    • You’re probably sore and a bit uncomfortable around your eyes, forehead, and scalp.
    • You may be sporting some bruises around your forehead and upper third of your face.
    • Hopefully you can tolerate some soft foods. Some people may find chewing uncomfortable, but cold foods, like ice cream, can make your mouth a little numb, which may help. Make sure to drink plenty of water!
    • Also, it’s not unusual to have some minimal discharge from your surgical wounds. Remember that your body is working hard to heal and it’s sending a lot of blood with nutrients and infection-fighting cells to the area. This creates a lot of inflammation that you can control with meds and ice packs.
    • Remember to always keep your head elevated and leave your bandages alone.

  • Day 2 to Day 7

    • Each day, the pain, swelling, and bruising will progressively improve.
    • If you had bandages or sutures placed during your procedure, they will usually get removed somewhere between day five and day seven.
    • During this first week, don’t expect to go to the office or be doing anything strenuous. This is the time to catch up on some shows, finally organize your inbox, or read the classics… whatever works for you.

  • Week 2

    • Ok, so now you can probably start thinking about getting back to some aspects of your life. If you need to travel home from your procedure, it’s now safe to get on a plane. You can get creative with your makeup routine and think about heading out for some errands or back to the office.
    • Of note, in this second week there will be some diversions in recovery. Less invasive surgical techniques (like an endoscopic lift) will probably see resolution of most symptoms. More invasive techniques may still be having more moderate symptoms.
    • Attention eyeglass wearers: In some cases you may need to wait 14 to 21 days to start wearing your glasses for short periods of time (probably not more than 30 minutes at once).

  • Week 3 to Week 12

    • For most candidates, it’s safe to get that blood pressure climbing again. Your doctor will give you specific instructions, but, by week three or four, you can typically resume more strenuous activities and slowly ramp up the intensity over a few days. Keep in mind, exercise at this time will most likely cause some increased swelling, but this should go down within a few hours.
    • It’s worth repeating that during this period swelling will continue to go down and it is important to protect your forehead from trauma. Save playing catch for a while.

  • 6 months to 1 Year

    • Swelling will resolve and there’s not much to do during this time other than be mindful of keeping your forehead protected from trauma and to continue to take general precautions to minimize swelling.
    • Final results will begin to appear now that skin, soft tissue, muscle, and bone has healed and swelling has resolved.

Tips to Improve Your Brow Lift Recovery

Now that you know more about the recovery timeline associated with a facial plastic brow lift surgery, we’ve got some tips to help you progress along your recovery efficiently and effortlessly. Like we previously stated, every individual body heals at its own pace, but there are definitely some universal truths that augment healing.

1. Be Mindful & Be Patient

We’re not being deliberately vague here. Your body will let you know what it needs. If you feel like taking it slow one day, do it! If you suddenly have the desire to get some fresh air, go for it (albeit you are medically cleared for it)! The mind-body connection exists and the more you respect it the easier your recovery will be. Patience rules the day, so be kind to your body and slowly ease yourself back into your routine without forcing things like your return to work or working out.

2. Eat well, sleep well, & stay hydrated

This is just good life advice, but, especially during times of increased stress on the body (think: following a major plastic surgery), the more you nourish yourself and properly rest the better. Some of the best repair hormones only get cycled through your blood while you [sleep](, so be like a pro athlete during the months following your surgery and get those eight hours. Your https://aedit.com/aedition/sleeping-better-after-cosmetic-surgery-aesthetic-procedures)forehead (and your entire being) will thank you for it.

Additionally, eating a balanced diet free from processed foods in combination with plenty of water and taking it easy on caffeine and alcohol will naturally reduce inflammation and help lessen swelling more quickly (check out our guide to what to eat before and after cosmetic procedures). Oh, and don’t smoke. Our advice is to never smoke, but it’s particularly vital to lay off after a major surgery.

3. Elevate & Ice

Cold compresses and keeping your head up (literally and metaphorically) will lessen blood flow to the area and reduce the amount of fluid accumulation in and around your surgical sites. While blood does bring all the good nutrients and healing cells, it can also leave large deposits of infection-fighting cells and other materials you don’t really need hanging around. This is why icing for periods of time (i.e. not continuously) creates the best balance of blood flow.

4. Moderate Your Activities

This probably doesn’t need to be said, but, just in case, three weeks after your brow lift is not the time to begin your CrossFit training regimen. Vigorous exercise makes blood pressure increase. Increased blood pressure means increased swelling. Intense exercise also naturally increases the stress hormone cortisol. While it’s great in moderation when you're healthy, it’s not ideal in the months following a major surgery.

Other activities to avoid or limit: wearing hats and helmets, sun bathing, and wearing glasses for long periods of time.

Brow Lift Side Effects & Complications


So now that we’ve thoroughly covered the days and weeks following a brow lift procedure, let’s review what you can definitely expect versus what may or may not occur. Every brow lift patient should expect at least one to two weeks of bruising and at least four to six weeks of considerable swelling. Achiness, scalp tightness, and headaches are all common side effects that will resolve within a week or two and can be mitigated with medications.

While rare, more serious complications are possible. Infections of the forehead tissues are a possible complication of a brow lift and can be treated with antibiotics. Permanent numbness from nerve damage, intractable pain, asymmetry, brow or upper eyelid drooping, and scarring are more significant complications that may require further surgical revision (like an eyelid surgery) or be unable to be fixed.

The Takeaway


The healing process following a facial plastic cosmetic surgery like a brow lift can seem intimidating. And while we are not minimizing the fact that a brow lift is a major surgery with considerable risks and side effects, thousands of brow lifts are safely performed successfully in the United States each year with patients enjoying life-changing results. Never underestimate the value of a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon to more specifically determine what your unique brow lift experience will entail.
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Source List

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AEDIT uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Huang W, Rogachefsky AS, Foster JA Brow Lift with Botulinum Toxin PubMed; 2000-01-01
  2. Kun Hwang Eyebrow Shapes Over the Last Century PubMed.gov; 2016-11-01
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‘Try on’ aesthetic procedures and instantly visualize possible results with AEDIT and our patented 3D aesthetic simulator.

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