All About Eyelid and Brow Lift Surgery

5 common questions answered by a surgeon
Person getting eyebrow injection.

Worried about skin around your eyes getting saggy, baggy or wrinkled?

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If so, you may have already done your research that shows an eyelid lift or brow lift can be a quick, easy fix for these problems.

That may be true, but bear in mind before deciding on any surgery it’s important to consider all the facts. 

Ophthalmologist and oculoplastic surgeon Julian Perry, MD, answers common questions about the difference between brow lifts and eyelid lifts, and if you should have these procedures done.

1. Should I get eyelid lift or brow lift surgery?

Most people consider an eyelid or brow lift for cosmetic reasons, as there are many benefits. 

Eyelid and brow lifts can brighten your eyes and help you look more youthful and alert. 

And for those also wondering if a brow lift or eyelid lift helps hooded eyes? “Yes, these procedures can help take care of this problem as well,” Dr. Perry says.

But he also adds that drooping skin in the eye area can be more than just a cosmetic concern.

“It can happen at any age, but you may start to notice heavy skin and tissue on your upper eyelids. Sometimes you can even see or feel it resting on your eyelashes,” Dr. Perry says. “This can cause eye fatigue and many cases it can also interfere with your vision.” 

If you’ve been having vision problems and you think your eyelids may be the problem, use your finger to hold your eyelid and eyebrow up. Look around in all directions. If lifting the skin seems to improve your vision, then drooping skin is likely the culprit and eyelid and brow surgeries will help correct it. 

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Some insurance companies may even help with the cost in cases where vision is impaired. Just remember to consult first with your insurance company and your doctor to understand specifics of your coverage terms before you choose any surgery.

2. What are the best options to lift the skin around my eyes?

For an eyelid lift you can consider eyelid surgery — or what medical professionals refer to as blepharoplasty. There are two types.

  • Upper lid blepharoplasty is surgery to remove skin and sometimes the fat of the upper eyelid. “This is a very straightforward procedure,” says Dr. Perry. “It involves light sedation and takes about 25 minutes.” Recovery typically involves about a week of swelling and bruising, but little pain. Stitches in the eyelids come out after a week.
  • Lower lid blepharoplasty addresses bags and wrinkles underneath the eye. The surgeon will remove or reposition fat using a small incision, and tighten excess skin, if necessary. Recovery is similar to that of upper lid blepharoplasty. The surgery is often performed without any visible scars.

A brow lift is a slightly different procedure. When performing a brow lift, the surgeon makes incisions just above the brow to lift and tighten the skin above your eyes. This procedure leaves small but visible scars. Typically, incisions made in the hairline can make the scars less visible.

3. Are eyelid and brow lift surgeries safe?

“In my career I’ve performed over 20,000 eyelid and eyebrow procedures,” Dr. Perry says. “Yes, they are extremely safe.”

As for any risks from eyelid lift or brow lift surgery, they’re primarily cosmetic. For example, some procedures may result in asymmetrical results, excess tissue that’s left behind or results that may not go far enough in correcting the problem. 

Brow lifts can also leave visible scars or skin discoloration — “but we’ve developed new techniques to minimize these scars,” Dr. Perry says.

Major risks such as blurred vision or loss of eyesight, bleeding, infection, nerve damage or other problems are rare. 

As with any surgery, you want to consider the general risks associated with surgery in general, including reaction to anesthesia and blood clotting.

4. Do the results from eyelid or brow lifts last long?

“I always tell patients that the results of these surgeries last a lifetime, but the aging process will always continue,” Dr. Perry says. “In other words, your face — just like the rest of you — will keep getting older and aging will likely begin to show at some point.”

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But Dr. Perry says, “Many patients enjoy good results from eye lifts and brow lifts for decades.” 

He also adds that additional surgery down the road can always be an option, too.

5. Why shouldn’t I undergo eye lift or brow lift surgery?

Dr. Perry says that most people are good candidates for eyelid and brow lifts, with just a couple of exceptions:

If you’ve already had upper blepharoplasty but have started feeling droopy again, you may not have any upper eyelid skin left to remove. In this case, a brow lift may be a better option.

Also, if you’re on blood thinners and aren’t able to stop taking them before surgery, the surgical plan might need to be modified.

If surgical solutions aren’t for you, there are non-surgical ways to brighten your eye area:

  • Use moisturizer and sunscreen regularly.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Use chemical peels for fine wrinkles around the eyes.
  • Cosmetic injectables are another option.

“If you’re thinking it’s time to take action against bags and wrinkles around your eyes, you can consult with a plastic surgeon and weigh all of the options,” Dr. Perry adds.

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