What’s the Difference Between a Facelift and a Forehead Lift?


When considering any kind of cosmetic surgery, it’s important to consult with a physician in order to determine which procedure is right for you. For example, some patients come to us asking about facelifts when what they really need to achieve their desired results is a forehead lift, and vice versa. And there are some cases in which both procedures are recommended to achieve the desired outcome. In meeting with a plastic surgeon and talking together about your goals, you can make a more informed decision about the procedure (or procedures) you need.

To help jumpstart that conversation, we’ve put together some brief bullet points about the facelift vs. forehead lift. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between a facelift and a forehead lift.

What Is A Facelift?

A facelift is meant to address the symptoms of facial aging, which may include the loss of skin elasticity, firmness, or volume, as well as changes to the contours of the face. For some patients, aging produces unwanted features such as creases and wrinkles, jowling, and what’s commonly known as a “turkey neck.” If you’ve observed any of these symptoms and wish to feel younger and more refreshed, a facelift could offer the results you desire.

In understanding how facelifts work, it’s important to note that many different areas of the face are impacted by the aging process; as the skin relaxes it might lead to creases around the eyes as well as between the nose and mouth, plus jowling along the cheeks and jawline. Because of this, facelifts can be highly customizable, allowing individual clients to address their specific needs and goals.

So how does it work? There are different types of facelifts but in most facelifts, a small incision is made in the hairline, right around the temples. The incision is often continued behind the ear and ultimately makes its way down to the lower scalp. Then, fat is sculpted and transferred to recreate more youthful facial contours. The jowls, the neck, and facial tissues may also be moved and re-positioned, and skin is draped over the new facial contours with any excess being trimmed away. For those who wish to address sagging skin in the neck, a second incision may be needed—this one under the chin.

Not everyone is a good candidate for a facelift. The best candidates are healthy individuals who live an active lifestyle, don’t smoke or have quit smoking recently, and don’t have any medical complications that might impede their healing process.

As a final note, be aware that facelifts are often paired with other facial procedures in order to achieve the desired outcome. These other procedures might include laser resurfacing, eyelid or brow surgery, the use of injectables, topical skin care products, fat grafting, and a forehead lift.

What Is A Forehead Lift?

While a facelift can be customized to address a wide range of facial issues, from the neck through the cheeks, it does not include the forehead region. A forehead lift addresses the brow and above the cheekbone area of the face, which is where much of our emotional expression happens. Consider how the position of your brows can convey that you are surprised, angry, sad, or elated. Also consider, as we age, our brows can often droop, which might make us seem sullen or moody when in fact that’s not how we feel!

A forehead lift brings a more youthful and refreshed look by resolving issues with drooping eyebrows, hooding over the eyes, and furrowed foreheads. These issues are effectively smoothed out with excess skin and tissue being removed, the facial muscles being altered, and the skin on the forehead being tightened up.

A forehead lift may be recommended for individuals seeking any of the following outcomes:

  • The elevation of sagging eyebrows, which produces a “hood” over the eyelids.
  • The softening of either horizontal brow lines or vertical frown lines.
  • The softening of wrinkles occurring on the bridge of the nose.
  • The repositioning of eyebrows to appear more youthful and alert.

Our plastic surgeons have different methods of performing forehead lifts, depending on the individual and his or her needs. Often, endoscopes are used. These instruments allow the surgeon to see the tissues and muscles that are below the forehead skin. Small incisions are then made in the scalp. The brow is lifted and underlying muscles are reconfigured as necessary, and then the area is sutured back together, with fresh bandages in place.

As with the facelift procedure, the forehead lift is not necessarily for everyone, and it’s important that you meet with a plastic surgeon to talk about your goals and your overall health before the procedure is scheduled. Our physicians perform forehead lifts for patients who are healthy and who don’t have any medical complications that might impede proper healing.

With either of the procedures mentioned here, you can expect to be released on an outpatient basis; and, you can expect some recovery time—a couple of days before returning to work, a few weeks before you feel completely like yourself again. While scars will be present, they fade over time and will generally be hidden under hair. Ask your surgeon for further details about the recovery process.

Read more about what you need to know in our guide to facelift surgery!

Facelift vs. Forehead Lift: Which is Right for You?

Again, there’s no one right approach for everyone here, and it may be that both of these procedures will be required for you to get the look you’re after. The only way to determine which procedure is right for you is to consult with a plastic surgeon and discuss your specific needs and goals.

At Charlotte Plastic Surgery, we take these consultations very seriously. Not only do we want to ensure you’re having the correct procedure performed, but we want to guarantee you have the proper expectations. And, we want to prioritize your health and safety. To schedule a consultation with one of our physicians, we encourage you to contact our office today and let us know that you’re interested in either a facelift or a forehead lift.

Still wondering what your other options are for facial rejuvenation? Or simply not ready to schedule a consultation?

Download the latest edition of our Facial Rejuvenation eGuide for a comprehensive look at both your surgical and non-surgical options today!

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