Brow Lift Surgery Recovery: What to Expect
Reviewed by Yael Halaas, MD
Your surgeon has probably briefed you about what you can expect in the hours, days and weeks after your brow lift surgery. Your brow lift recovery time begins after your surgery is completed.
Your forehead may be taped and your head may be wrapped to minimize swelling and bruising. In addition, thin tubes (drains) may be in place to remove any excess blood or fluid. Your surgeon should tell you how to care for the surgical site before you are released.
Your forehead and scalp may feel tight and hot. Pain relievers can help. As the anesthesia wears off in the recovery area, you may feel very cold and/or emotional. This is normal. If you are cold, ask for a warm blanket. You may feel nauseated, especially if your brow lift was performed using general anesthesia. Medication can help curb your nausea.
If your brow lift was done on an outpatient basis, you will need a friend or family member to drive you home.
You may be groggy from the anesthesia and/or other medications on the first night after your brow lift. You may notice tightness, tingling, a sporadic sharp pain, pulling, burning and/or cold sensations on your forehead in the days and weeks after your brow lift. Your scalp will be numb because your nerves have been partially separated during your surgery. This is normal and to be expected.
Bruising and swelling are normal parts of the brow lift surgery recovery process, and tend to last about 10 days. Some people may develop black eyes after a brow lift. Applying cold compresses on your head and face can help keep swelling and bruising to a minimum. Ask your surgeon about anything else that you can do before or after your brow lift to help minimize bruising and swelling. Certain herbal remedies such as Arnica Montana and bromelain (an enzyme found in pineapple) may help.
All these sensations are usually transient and rarely last longer than the first few weeks after your brow lift. It's important to keep your head elevated for several days after your brow lift to minimize swelling. Sleep with your head on two to three medium-sized pillows or consider purchasing an inclined foam wedge at your local surgical supply store or pharmacy.
There may be some mild to moderate discomfort after your brow lift, but you should be up and about within two days. Any pain should be alleviated with your prescribed pain medication. Your surgeon will tell you when you can wash your hair, but typically you are able to do so after two days. Most people can return to work with make-up in about two weeks, and the full effects of your brow lift should be visible in one month's time. If you chose a non-invasive brow lift with Ulthera, the effects will appear more gradually, but your recovery will not be half as arduous. It's a trade-off.
Take it easy for the first two to three weeks after surgery. Don't bend over or lift anything that weighs more than 10 to 15 pounds. Don't participate in contact sports for at least six weeks after your brow lift. When in doubt about whether or not an activity is OK, ask your surgeon for guidance.
During your recovery, follow your surgeon's instructions regarding alcohol use and the use of certain medications that may increase bleeding risk, such as aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. If you quit smoking before your brow lift, stay the course. Smoking impairs circulation and impedes the healing process.
It is important that you walk around a few times a day starting on the day of your surgery. This boosts circulation and helps reduce your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside the body, blocking blood flow and causing swelling and pain. This clot may break free and move through the bloodstream. Report any leg pain, swelling or redness to your surgeon as soon as possible.
Other red flags of serious complications during your brow lift recovery may include excessive pain or redness, or pus, around the incisions. Take your temperature regularly. An elevated temperature could mean an infection. Protect yourself by taking your antibiotics on time and not skipping any doses.
Your first postoperative visit may be as soon as the day after your brow lift surgery. Your surgeon may change your bandages at this visit, or wait until the end of the week. Your sutures won't be removed for five to seven days after surgery, while staples will be left in place for up to 10 days. Your surgeon will evaluate how well you are healing during these visits. If you have any questions or concerns about your recovery, ask your surgeon. Only he or she can tell you what's normal and what's not.